Man wearing Mates4Mates t-shirt rolling out yoga mat in yoga studio

Rolling out the mat to recovery

06 November 2019

Trauma-sensitive yoga is providing life-changing results for veterans across the country – all without a single downward dog or warrior pose.

“Slowly breathe in for a count of three, gently hold the breath for a count of three, and then breathe out for a count of three.”

Lying flat on a yoga mat, participants tune into Jodi Allen’s voice as she guides a mid-morning class through a yoga practice at Mates4Mates. 

This isn’t just any yoga class – at Mates4Mates classes have been designed for people who have experienced trauma or injury to help reduce the symptoms of mental health issues and improve wellbeing. 

In the quiet space, participants find a comfortable position before settling into a rhythm of slow breathing. Some have bolsters under their knees, others lay under a blanket.

At Mates4Mates, there is no expectation or pressure when it comes to how each movement should be done. Participants are encouraged to adapt each position to suit their body. 

People of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in this therapeutic practice and through simple meditation techniques and stretching, bring a sense of calmness to their mind and body. 

“We focus on meditation, gentle stretching and the safety of your own body,” Jodi said. 

“A lot of people come out of the Defence Force with an injury or mental illness and think that they won’t be able to do yoga – but this is done completely on the mat and uses various forms of relaxation that can be adapted. There is no pressure, no expectation and no judgement.

“One important benefit of this type of yoga is learning to use the breath. It’s such a simple tool that we all have within ourselves that we can use to calm our nervous system, reduce muscle tension and lower our blood pressure, and it allows us to feel safe within our own body in times of stress and anxiety. 

“After taking part some participants say that it was the first time in years that they have switched off and found rest – it’s very powerful and that’s why I’m passionate about it.”

Jodi first joined Mates4Mates nearly two years ago as a member after she was medically discharged from the Air Force with a back injury. It wasn’t long before she experienced the benefits of yoga first-hand and started training in meditation and trauma yoga. 

Now Jodi is the trauma-informed yoga therapist at the Family Recovery Centre in Brisbane and said it’s the best job she’s ever had. 

“It means so much to me that I can give people the opportunity to experience something that they may not have experienced before. It’s very rewarding,” she said.  

Mates4Mates therapeutic yoga classes are held at the Brisbane, Townsville and Tasmania Family Recovery Centres each week, and in regional locations from time-to-time. 

“I hope that more people will take part – it opens up awareness in the body and provides people with simple tools that they can use in everyday life,” she said. 

Find out more If any content in this article resonates with you and you’d like to speak with someone at Mates4Mates about seeking support, contact us to find out more about our services. All Mates4Mates services are available for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with physical injuries or mental health issues, and their families.
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