7th Annual Veterans Yoga Project Gratitude Week to feature Wellness Series in 2020

For the VYP team, planning this year’s Veterans Yoga Project Gratitude Week fundraiser, which takes place from November 6th-16th, felt like a ‘first-ever,’ rather than a ‘seventh-in-the-making.’ COVID-19 forced us to re-think and re-position everything. Studio closures and social-distancing measures set a mandate for us to transition to an online format. Much like that which we accomplished, this past March, with our daily, live, online streaming classes on Facebook and Zoom, we were now tasked with re-conceptualizing our second largest annual fundraising initiative. 

“Yoga teaches us to be adaptable,” shares VYP Executive Director, Daniel Libby. “Rather than reflecting on what was, we stood by what was right before us. We knew that no matter what, our veterans, our Teachers Alliance cohort, our friends, our family, and our community would stand by us as we navigated this new landscape.”

By extending ourselves in this manner, we devised a completely new program: one that invites the opportunity for our teachers and community members to host anything from a physical yoga practice to a ‘challenge’ that mirrored their inspiration to our efforts. In doing so, we hope that we have created new ways in which others can participate, now, and in the future. 

“This year’s Veterans Yoga Project Gratitude Week is unique in that we opened the door to those who might not have otherwise participated because they could do something other than lead a yoga practice,” shares VYP Chief Operating Officer, Christian Allaire. “Something as simple as doing a ‘plank challenge’ or ‘breathing practice’ made this year’s initiative that much more accessible. “One that,” Christian continues, “could set the tone for years to come.” 

This mirrors VYP’s sentiment that yoga should and can be available to anyone. “The very essence of yoga,” continues Libby, “is a means in which to unite mind, body, and spirit: To connect the individual to the collective spirit of union.” 

It is VYP’s hope that this year’s Gratitude Week brings individuals together in creative ways. As isolating as these times are, with social-distancing and virtual engagements now the norm, joining in a challenge, a class, or otherwise, provides an opportunity to explore new modes of interpersonal connection. 

Says Allaire: “Beyond the significance of the countless efforts our supporters extend to us on a daily basis, and throughout the year, we now think of Gratitude Week as opportunity for all of us to share in that which makes us feel a little more ‘whole’ and inspired to continue all of the great work we do.” 

Within this, Allaire came up with the idea to present a Wellness Series to culminate the final two days of Gratitude Week. On November 15th and 16th, the likes of Ana Forrest, Jose Calarco, Baxter Bell, Perry Chattler, Ishan Tigunait, Elena Brower, Michael Lee, Jillian Pransky, Matthew Sanford, Noel Nunez, Stephen Porges, Jeff Masters, Matt Taylor, and Rolf Gates will host a range of sessions, from yoga practices and guided meditations, to theoretical discussions and evidence-based talks. 

In many ways, a 7th year did indeed become a year of ‘firsts,’ but one in which Veterans Yoga Project is confident will galvanize and amalgamate legions.

If you are interested in applying to be a presenter for the 2021 Wellness Series, please contact us at: VGW@veteransyogaproject.org.