Veteran & Teacher Spotlight: Jamie Yslas
For many volunteers, Veterans Yoga Project is their first experience working with veterans. Many are civilians with little to no military background. It’s a reminder that anyone can help those who have served, and you do not need an extensive history with the armed forces in order to help.
However, that is never to take away from those who do.
Jaime Yslas grew up just outside of Denver but was born in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. He served for 32 years of active duty in the United States Navy. Military service is as much a part of his family as anything else.
“My father and my wife both served,” he said. “My daughter and her husband are both on active duty in the Navy.”
Jaime has since retired but has been working with veterans for the last decade.
“I did three years of service with an Americorps project working with Veterans at Seattle University,” said Jaime. “I have been working with a veteran-related nonprofit, The Seattle Stand Down for over nine years. The work with the stand down and with Americorps got me deeply involved in Veteran work in the Puget Sound area.”
Jaime has also been involved with yoga for the last ten years. It started as a personal journey: Jaime began the practice as part of his grief recovery after his wife passed away. From there, he transitioned to Silver Sneaker Yoga, a style of yoga designed for those 65 and over, as well as chair yoga. What had first been utilized to help with the mourning process became a vital element for Jaime.
“Yoga is part of my contemplative life,” he said.
Jaime would receive his Mindful Resilience Training with Veterans Yoga Project in January of 2017, and then continue his education with his 200-hour registered yoga teacher training in September of that same year.
“[I] told Dan [the founder and executive director of Veterans Yoga Project] that I would help him connect the project with veterans in the Puget Sound area,” said Jaime. “I started out assisting at classes at the state veterans’ hospital and enjoyed this so much that I got my RYT-200 through a yoga school with an emphasis on the Iyengar approach to Hatha Yoga. The VYP teacher I was assisting was mobilized to active duty and so I ended up teaching the two classes we taught.”
Jaime currently teaches classes on Joint Base Lewis McChord for Soldiers in adaptive reconditioning. He also teaches with active National Guard personnel for stress relief, as well as at a transitional housing facility and at veterans centers. On top of that, he also teaches with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Jaime serves as the manager for Veterans Yoga Project teachers in the south Puget Sound area, as well as Seattle.
“In my role as ambassador for VYP, I actively engage with my VYP teammates to represent the program at conferences, events, and with Veteran-support agencies,” he says.
“The support for our teachers from the regional and national leadership is excellent,” Jaime continued. “The challenge in this area is finding teachers to teach during business hours since this is when clinical classes tend to be held.”
There will always be challenges and hurdles when it comes to helping those who need it the most, but Jaime wants those who are interested in volunteering to know that it’s about perseverance, patience, and taking part in supplemental training if able.
“Each facility is different and the variety of additional requirements can be daunting and can take on their own momentum, so we must be patient. I have found that my training in Mental Health First Aid and as a Veteran Peer Mentor to be very helpful in my work for VYP.”
Interested in volunteering with VYP? Check out how to become one of our VYP Boots On The Ground!