yoga instructor tailors classes for veterans facing PTSD | Local News

Blake Douglas Tulsa World

For several years, Ashley Ramsey has witnessed firsthand the toll PTSD continues to take on servicemen returning from overseas.

Ramsey’s close friend, Megan Widner Johnson, an Army veteran, served as a combat medic during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Johnson, who received two Bronze Stars, developed post-traumatic stress disorder after each of the many convoys she was a part of came under fire.

After Johnson’s death in 2019, Ramsey began using his trauma-informed yoga instructor certification to honor Johnson’s life and ensure Tulsa veterans have more resources to deal with the triggers of the PTSD. Every week, Ramsey hosts a free yoga class for veterans with PTSD.

“It’s (Johnson) in-memoriam,” Ramsey said. “She suffered from PTSD on a daily basis. It actually got to the point where she was unable to drive a vehicle. …

“When a person experiences trauma, they can lose their understanding of proprioception or where their body is in physical space. Yoga is a great way to reconnect.

Trauma-sensitive yoga differs from standard classes in its use of exercises intended to anchor participants in their bodies and surroundings, Ramsey said.

“There is definitely more attention to the body, more attention to the breath,” Ramsey said. “There are certain exercises we do to encourage the use of the senses in class, rhythm, movement. Feel the ground beneath you; feel your accessories hold and support you; feel your clothes against your skin; feel your breath.

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