MADISON, Conn. (WTNH) — Alistar Sweeney is a volunteer firefighter in Madison and a former infantry officer for the New Zealand Army. He says after serving in Afghanistan it was difficult to transition to civilian life.
“At the time I was having some difficulties transitioning back into civilian life and I found that just being able to rest and relax and not having a hundred thoughts going on in your mind all at once really helped,” said Sweeney.
Yoga helped Sweeney so much, he decided to share the relaxation techniques with service members and veterans. “I think that integrating some form of yoga, some form of relaxation meditation there is also a yoga sleep and that can really help people sleep who have been having re-occurrence of negative thoughts about their deployments,” Sweeney added.
Sweeney found that police officers and firefighters could also benefit from yoga. He expanded his reach giving free yoga sessions to emergency personnel and their family members.
Donna Wai, is a wife of a veteran and works at the VA. She says Sweeney’s yoga lessons are therapy.
“Unfortunately we teach our young folks to go to war and use weapons to kill and when they come back post traumatic, I see it in my practice,” Wai said.
“The whole country needs it because the whole country is anxiety loaded,” added John Connery.
The Madison Green is just one place Sweeney offers free yoga for veterans, fire fighters, police officers and their families to combat stress.
“You’re on the green, you are hearing the church bells and I was like this is unusual to do yoga on the green,” Wai added.
Residents say they’re thankful Sweeney is sharing his yoga skills with the shoreline community.
“There a lot of stress involved with the public and it helps you relieve stress,” Connery said. Wai adds, “For someone to come in from another country to embrace Madison and Connecticut and to share yoga with other folks as well as veterans it is just fantastic.”