Newly offered yoga program designed to assist military

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – A new yoga program is being directed towards military men and women seeking to relieve stress.

The course is taught by Jessica Harper, a yoga instructor with Unity Yoga & Wellness located in downtown O’Fallon. Harper holds a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsavanyja, from which she graduated in 2018. Before she achieved her degree, she completed her 200 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) hours in Okinawa, Japan. Her husband, who is in the United States Air Force, was stationed there during the time she was completing her 200 YTT hours. 

“After I completed my 200 YTT hours, I decided to study [yoga] further. I completed my 300 YTT hours at Rishikesh Yog Peeth in India. It was a huge growing opportunity for me.” Harper said. 

The program, Warriors at Ease, was founded in 2009 with their mission being to bring healing with the power of yoga and meditation, to military communities around the entire world. To achieve this mission, communities are training instructors to provide yoga classes to military members. There are three levels of training and once you complete level three, you are officially a Warriors at Ease certified instructor. 

“I have been involved with Warriors at Ease since 2016. I was introduced to them in my 200 YTT hours. My main instruction was an instruction with Warriors at Ease. They taught us trauma sensitive training,” Harper said. 

Harper has past experience as a personal trainer and a fitness instructor. In order to keep in shape physically and mentally she thought about attending a yoga class, which is how she initially became engaged by it. 

“A lot of people I knew were doing yoga, so I decided to get involved, but not under the intension of wanting to teach it. I felt like there was something missing from my routine,” Harper said. 

Harper felt yoga to be very “therapeutic and empowering.” She felt that yoga helped her become, “a better version of myself.” After she attended a few more yoga classes, Harper was hooked.

“I thought yeah, maybe I do want to try and go for teaching. So I could maybe, help guide others toward their better self,” Harper said. 

Harper stated that throughout her experiences here and overseas, her goal after completing her yoga training is “Being able to provide a service to an underserved community.” 

Harper will be holding another restorative Warriors at Ease class at the Unity Yoga and Wellness Center near the end of May, for Memorial Day. She hopes that her next class will aid the many active duty and retired military men and women in and around O’Fallon. 

“We want to help them cope with something that had happened to them and using meditation to relieve that stress from their lives,” Harper said.