One of the most fascinating aspects of the volunteers for Veterans Yoga Project is the unique way each person got into yoga. Everyone has a different story about how they started their practice.

Caleb Lay’s first yoga class was at the Tinker Air Force Base. He was an Instructor Airborne Surveillance Technician in the USAF from 2008 until 2015. He had his first class in 2012 and the experience he had was profound.

“I was immediately drawn into yoga after my first class when I left feeling extraordinarily grounded and calm,” says Caleb. “This was incredibly helpful for me, as I was suffering from anxiety and depression at that moment. I also left that class being surprised at how my whole body felt in general.”

From then on, Caleb was a loyal practitioner of yoga.

“Most of my practice until Fall 2019 was either on base (up until 2015) or on my iPad in my living room,” says Caleb.

Caleb comes from a long line of family members who have served their country.

“My grandpa spent time in the Army, several uncles were in the USAF,” says Caleb. “I also had the honor of attending my brother’s Basic Graduation from USAF in uniform.”

In 2019, Caleb began attending Edmonds Community College to pursue a Computer Sciences degree. It was in the first quarter that he met Monica Thorne, a regional director of Veterans Yoga Project, through the college’s veterans resource center. She was teaching a weekly class on campus for veterans at the time.

This inspired Caleb to get involved with Veterans Yoga Project. Caleb attended one of VYP’s 15-hour Mindful Resilience Trainings in Seattle, Washington, in February of 2019. During this time, Caleb was also getting his 200-hour yoga teacher training, and it was halfway through that training that Caleb decided to switch careers and become a full-time instructor.

“I knew from my time in the USAF that I had the most enjoyment from my role as an instructor,” says Caleb. “Helping my students gain new or greater mastery of concepts in real-time, demonstrating and supporting the learning of new techniques, etc, were the things I most enjoyed during my time in service.”

Caleb is now a full-time yoga teacher, and is the lead instructor at Edmonds Community College for Veterans Yoga Project.

“Currently we meet once a week during active quarters,” says Caleb. “This will likely expand in the future. COVID challenges have been extraordinarily difficult to work through.”

Caleb wishes more people knew how beneficial yoga can be, especially for veterans.

“Yoga specifically is such a helpful tool for veterans. It is important that we support our vets!” says Caleb.

While Caleb grew up in many places, including Fremont, California, Kansas City, Missouri, and Alice Springs, Australia, Caleb considers Dallas, Texas, home, and currently enjoys living in Seattle, Washington. He likes to spend his free time exploring the trails and parks in the area with his dog, Bramble.

Learn more about Mindful Resilience for Trauma Recovery teacher training, and earn YA and IAYT continuing education credits.