Organization offers yoga classes to help veterans, first responders

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Organization offers yoga classes to help veterans, first responders
Fitness trainer Steve Cannon, left, with Lauren Turner, president and executive director for the Warrior Within Yoga Project. Cannon will be the instructor for a special free yoga class for veterans and first responders at Earthsong Yoga in Marlborough. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – Yoga is often touted as a way to find inner peace.

For Lauren Turner, it’s a way to find the “Warrior Within.”

Turner recently established the Natick-based Warrior Within Yoga Project as a way to help veterans, first responders, their caretakers and family members deal with “inner issues” such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and stress.

“There’s an urgent need for this,” said Turner, who is the president and executive director.

She began practicing yoga in 2011; in 2016 she earned her certification and began teaching. She ran yoga studios in Framingham until 2021 when she decided to devote her time and talent to helping veterans.

The reason? It goes back to her uncle, an Army veteran who used to run marathons and triathlons. He was living out of a trailer in New Hampshire (“real off the grid,” said Turner).

In 2019, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“He had weeks to live,” she said.

Her uncle was taken to the Bridge House in Plymouth, N.H.

“They were very welcoming,” said Turner. “He was cared for by the veterans community. We knew he was OK.”

Turner said that after her uncle died, and “he didn’t have two nickels to rub together,” a Marine Corps veteran built a pine casket.

“We were so touched and so grateful,” she said.

Soon afterward, Turner learned about Warriors at Ease, which offers training and resources in yoga and meditation to military communities.

She took a course in trauma yoga, and she began making connections with veterans and yoga communities.

In September 2022, Turner began the Warrior Within Yoga Project.

“It’s an extension of the work I’m doing,” said Turner.

Warrior Yoga classes

Free 60-minute classes for military personnel, veterans, first responders, caretakers and family members are currently offered at the AMVETS post off Superior Drive in Natick.

Starting in late January, an additional class will be offered at Earthsong Yoga on the second floor of the Corey Building on Main Street in Marlborough.

“I’m super psyched to do this,” said Gail Cannon, who owns Earthsong Yoga.

Cannon said this is the first time Earthsong will be offering this type of program.

“I saw a post from Lauren that they needed some space. I come from a military family, so I understand disabled, PTSD…,” she said.

Cannon’s father served in Korea, and he was a disabled veteran; her great-uncle and great-aunt served during World War II – her great-uncle with the Merchant Marines and her great-aunt with the Women’s Army Corps.

Her husband, Steve, is a personal trainer, massage therapist and Air Force veteran. He will be leading the class at Earthsong.

“I’ve not taught a class like this,” said Steve. “It’s going to be interesting, because of the wide range of ages and abilities.”

Steve said his yoga expertise is not as extensive as his wife’s, but “we feed off each other.”

Gail said the class is open to veterans and first responders, as well as their caretakers and family members, from around the area.

“It’s for all levels, and all inclusive,” she said.

The six-week class will take place Thursdays beginning Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. To sign up, visit www.warriorwithinyoga.org/locations.

Partnership with Medusa

To help raise funds for the veterans’ yoga program, the Warrior Within has partnered with Medusa Brewery in Hudson.

“Yoga at the Brewery” is held once a month; for $25, you get to participate in a yoga class and have a beer. The classes are open to the public; all levels and abilities are welcome.

“They’re a great partner,” said Turner.

n addition, there’s a “Burn Boot Camp Benefit” on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Burn Boot Camp, 969 Concord St., Framingham. Following the “boot camp” workout, Turner will lead a 10-minute cool-down yoga session.

For information, visit https://www.warriorwithinyoga.org/events.

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