Justin Blazejewski joined the Marine Corp after high-school. He transitioned to a contractor, working in IT. His normal coping methods of dealing with stress were very physical such as marathons and lifting weights. He went to a yoga class after a few injuries and significant pressure from a friend. He was hooked after his first class. Like a marine, he started off going to yoga 6 days per week. As a contractor, he often found himself in war zones and would practice yoga on the bases. The soldiers observed his practice and his state of calm and assumed the two were connected. When they began to ask him to teach them some yoga, he decided that he should take a yoga teacher training so that he could share the practice, the correct way.
After taking a yoga teacher training with Dharma Mittra, he began to question what he was doing and what his purpose was. He decided that he could use his experiences abroad, in war zones to help others that have had similar experiences and so he created VEToga. VEToga is a yoga teacher training for Veterans, Emergency Responders and their families.
When asked, without hesitation Justin recommended the Bhagavad Gita to anyone looking to dig into the background of yoga, dharma and finding your path; especially for those who come from a military background.
Justin Blazejewski is not alone; there are quite a few veterans that have returned to civilian life and have created programs to help other veterans return. Below is a list of some other Not For Profit organizations that work with veterans.
Helping Vets Help Vets: As we discussed in the interview, there is a special event that we working together on. On Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2017, all over the country, teachers will be running a class that is dedicated to the veterans of the U.S. military to honor their efforts and to bring awareness to the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day. All proceeds from the class will go to a scholarship fund that will send veterans to a yoga teacher training run by VEToga. VEToga was created by veterans, for veterans. You can learn more on the Facebook page for Boundless Service. We are currently looking for teachers that would like to participate. You can sign up as a teacher or participant on the Boundless Service website. #HelpingVetsHelpVets
Special Thanks: I am grateful to Davide Di Censo for providing the introduction and to 13 Hands for graciously giving us permission to use ‘Big Love’ as the intro and outro.
I enjoyed this interesting podcast, Brian. Justin has given and is giving a lot to his community.