After 12 years in the U.S. Air Force, Arlington resident Natasha Glynn is taking a step in a new direction. Thanks to a fellowship with the non-profit organization The Mission Continues, Glynn will spend the next six months teaching yoga to fellow veterans in the D.C. Metropolitan area.
Every year, The Mission Continues awards fellowships to post 9/11 veterans so that they can immerse themselves in community service for six months. This year, one of the fellowships went to Glynn, who this month will begin teaching free yoga classes to veterans at Rockville’s International Spirit of Healing.
“It’s a local non-profit that provides integrative and preventative medicine,” Glynn said. “It is run by a veteran and their mission alone is right in line with my goals, teaching yoga to the veteran communities.”
There were more than 300 applicants for the 97 fellowships, according to Spencer Kymtpon, president of The Mission Continues.
“The Mission Continues fellowship program is unique in that we are not only tackling tough challenges in the community, but also helping veterans transition to civilian life,” Kympton said. “The program gives veterans a renewed sense of purpose, but also a new unit here at home, providing a network of support as they pursue a full-time job or higher education.”
Glynn had been fostering the idea of teaching yoga to veterans and thus developed an award-winning application.
“What stood out about Natasha was that she was not only passionate about yoga, but was determined to pursue a career as a yoga instructor,” said Morgan Hickman, fellowship admissions specialist at The Mission Continues. “Natasha was selected for The Mission Continues fellowship program because we knew it would give her the platform to not only help others through her yoga practice, but also to gain practical experience to help advance her career.”
Glynn, a former Technical Sergeant, was medically separated from the Air Force in 2012. She fell in love with the practice of yoga while a spinal injury patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It was boredom and frustration with post-surgery physical therapy that led her to serious yoga practice.
She relocated to Northern Virginia area seven months ago, specifically to pursue her passion and goal to spread it to other veterans.
“The reason I moved to D.C. was to complete yoga teacher training and then to be able to apply it to the veteran community,” Glynn said. “I was living in North Carolina and I knew there was a large veteran community here, and there are networks and non-profit agencies. I knew this was a great place for me to take a chance on my goals.”
The Air Force sent Glynn all over the world, with deployments in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Europe. Her current journey, though, is perhaps every bit as challenging as any military assignment.
“I am 33 years old,” Glynn said. “I thought it was a good time in my life because I’m not married or have a family, so I’m not bringing anyone along with me for the risk. Still, it is exciting and nerve-wracking reinventing myself.”
She said she will be teaching general veteran populations, but her deepest interest is in wounded veterans.
“I’m mostly into wounded veterans because I want to teach them the skills to be comfortable in their own bodies,” Glynn said. “And I’d like to challenge the male population to not be shy.”
Glynn said there are hesitations and misconceptions about yoga within the veteran community, and she hopes to knock down both during her six-month fellowship.
“In the veteran community, the majority are Christian-based,” Glynn said. “They may be resistant or closed off to the stereotype of yoga. With my experience being in the military and being able to translate the language of yoga, I hope to open the doors to its healing aspects.”
Glynn herself became a yogi when she moved to Northern Virginia, where she began her hundreds of hours of mandatory training to become a certified yoga teacher. She has an additional 40 hours of training under her belt that certifies her to teach yoga to the trauma sensitive.
She learned of The Mission Continues fellowship after relocating to the area.
“I spent the last year plus supporting different non-profit organizations, narrowing my interest of focus groups, and taking time out to work on my own health and wellness,” Glynn said. “I feel like there have been stones laid before me for the path that I’m supposed to be on.”
Glynn will begin her fellowship this month, teaching free classes for veterans at The International Spirit of Healing’s building in Rockville, as well as in different locations as space becomes available. She insists that no experience is necessary.
“I would encourage any veterans that have a general interest,” Glynn said. “Classes will be offered for free, both small group classes and private sessions. There will be nothing competitive or vigorous. It will all be beginner and introductory classes.”
For Glynn, becoming a yogi has made all the difference in her own life and she knows it has the power to do the same for others in her shoes.
“Yoga to me equates to food for my soul,” Glynn said. “Having a continuing practice gives me a platform to sit with myself, acknowledge the day, God, and dedicate time to move around bringing awareness of what my physical needs are as well.”
Contact Glynn via e-mail at Natashanetworks@gmail.com, or via Facebook where her user name is Natasha.glynn.75.