Lora Hogan > Yoga  > #PassLove: The Yoga Beard, Supporting Yoga for Veterans

#PassLove: The Yoga Beard, Supporting Yoga for Veterans

My friend Nicholas Caris is growing a yoga beard to raise funds and awareness for yoga for veterans.

And I’m gonna shave it off.

Yes, you read that correctly. I really really hope I get to shave what will be my friend’s ridiculously long beard.

Why? I’m going to help Nick raise money ($100,000 in fact!!) for the Exalted Warrior Foundation. The Exalted Warrior Foundation provides yoga for veterans and, as you have seen before, is one of my personal favorite charities.  The person who helps Nick raise the most money between now and the end of 2014 gets the privilege of shaving the beard.

Why is Nick growing the beard?

Nick Started “The Year of the Beard” and is actively fundraising for the Exalted Warrior Foundation. The Year of the Beard’s mission statement is “Raising awareness about the healing practices of yoga and meditation to veterans from veterans. ” Yoga and meditation heal beyond the physical, creating a mind-body connection that can make a difference. And, contrary to often-depicted media images, yoga is not just for women, wimps, or dancers.

Real men do yoga.

Nick says “my beard being grown is the symbol of how yoga is just as manly as going to the gym.” Nick seeks to prove that yoga is just as difficult, just as manly, and, perhaps, even more beneficial than gym workouts–especially for veterans.

Here’s Nick in extended side-angle pose

I would summarize Nick’s experiences with yoga, but I wouldn’t be able to do him justice.  Read on for Nick’s yoga story, in his own words. On Nick’s fundraising page he explains his personal journey with yoga:

“2 ½ years ago I left the Marine Corps infantry and moved to Tampa. I found myself lost and hurting mentally and physically with no idea who I was, where I wanted to go drinking every night and taking a lot of pills for my pain and sleep troubles. I had ptsd and severe back problems that I became aware of which prevented me from doing any physical activity and having civilized relationships with friends and family. My uncle introduced me into yoga at that point in time and as a guy I was skeptical, I thought it was for women and wasn’t comfortable trying it. I am thankful today that I did because it is the reason I am here today. Through Exalted Warrior Foundations adaptive yoga program I was able to practice yoga with instructors that knew how to teach veterans with physical and mental struggles. They were able to guide me through different postures that helped reduce my pain which eliminated my pain pills. The meditation allowed me to reconnect my body and mind helping me sleep again and manage my ptsd.”

Nick goes on to explain the campaign:

“I have been so thankful and inspired because of Exalted Warrior Foundations program to help raise awareness to my fellow veterans about the healing practice of yoga and meditation. During the year of 2014 I will go to all the Tampa area exalted warrior adaptive yoga classes, sharing my journey, and representing the benefits from yoga practices. My beard being grown is the symbol of how yoga is just as manly as going to the gym. I have started this campaign to give back to Exalted Warrior Foundation, in thanks for all of their time and dedication providing adaptive yoga classes to myself and other wounded veterans. My goal is to reach $100,000 which will help provide more yoga to veterans and expand their teachings.”

Annie Okerlin’s Exalted Warrior Foundation teaches free adaptive yoga classes to veterans around the United States, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC, Tampa’s James A Haley Veteran’s Hospital, in Brooklyn, St. Petersburg, Florida, Virginia Beach, and at Annie’s own yoga studio–Yogani–in Tampa, Florida.  Check out ESPN’s article “Breathing New Life Into Wounded Warriors” to read more about the Exalted Warrior Foundation impact on wounded warriors.

Annie teaching “boat pose” with the Exalted Warrior Foundation

Nicholas Caris aims to show his gratitude to the Exalted Warrior Foundation’s yoga classes while simultaneously raising awareness and vital funds for this cause. This campaign will continue from now through the end of December.  Nick hopes to raise $100,000 for the Exalted Warrior Foundation–wouldn’t it be great if we could help him BEAT that goal? (And yes–I would love it if I could raise the most money for this cause!! Will you help me do it pretty please?)

How the #YogaBeard works:

  • Between April 1 and December 31, 2014 The Year of the Beard will collect donations for the Exalted Warrior Foundation. Meanwhile, Nick will not shave his beard for the entire length of time. All donations to the campaign must be maid via the Year of the Beard official fundraising site.
  • Meanwhile, Nicholas Caris will not trim his beard, even during the heat of Florida summers while pledging to promote, fundraise, attend Exalted Warrior Foundation yoga classes, and engage community support for veterans and their transition back to society.
  • At noon on 12/31/2014 fundraising closes and official results will be tallied. The person who raises the most funds will have the privilege of shaving of the yoga beard. (Or appointing someone in his/her stead to shave the beard.)

 How you can help:

  • Support my team! I want to be the one to shave Nick’s beard! (EEEEP!) No donation is too small! (And no donation is too big, for that matter!) To donate, please visit https://secure.qgiv.com/hobnob/account/57056
  • Start your own account and join the fundraising fun!
  • Share the Year of the Beard with everyone you know
  • Inform your community about Exalted Warrior Foundation and the benefits of yoga for veterans
  • Meet new people, get involved with your local Team Red, White and Blue, and personally support veterans wherever you live

Important Year of the Beard Links:

Let’s #PassLove by giving to this great cause. Thanks everyone!


    • Nick Caris

      April 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      thanks a bunch Lora