Alistair Sweeney - Spring 2019 Vetoga Yoga Teacher Training

by Alistair Sweeney


Campaign has ended.


I served as an Infantry Officer in the New Zealand Army for over a decade. My service included two active duty tours to East Timor (2006 and 2008) and one to Afghanistan (2012) where I served alongside United States forces (10th Mountain and 1st Armored) as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. After leaving the Army I had my own struggles dealing with injuries, depression and anxiety. I felt pretty lost, but generally kept any problems I had to myself.

As a way to deal with my injuries that were sometimes giving me a lot of pain I tried Yoga. I found the classes were extremely helpful for relieving tension in my body (particularly my lower back). Although I started out doing physically demanding Yoga classes and really enjoying the rest at the end of class, as soon as I experienced some more of the restorative and therapeutic type Yoga classes, I found it one of the first times in a long time that my body had had the opportunity to really be at ease. When my body was at ease, it seemed that any anxiety I was feeling would also calm.

I kept going with Yoga and became dedicated to attending classes as well as practicing on my own. On sort of a whim I decided last minute to sign up for a teacher training program which essentially changed my life forever. Having had the opportunity to be immersed in Yoga with other people who felt the same as I did was very therapeutic for me (as I was still keeping my enjoyment of Yoga pretty quiet at the time).

Soon after completing my Yoga Teacher Training I immigrated to the United States to be with my fiancé. Still feeling a little lost as to what to do with my life outside of the Army and again on a bit of a whim I decided that I would become a Yoga Teacher full-time and make it my mission to give back to other Veterans so that they could find the peace I had found and had been seeking for so long. So I began teaching some community classes and opening them up for free to any Veterans to attend, but very rarely did Veterans show. 

My first real break didn't come until I was approached by one of the more senior members of the fire company I volunteered with. He asked if I would consider doing a trial class for some of the members of the fire company to try. These classes soon started on a weekly basis and were opened up to all First Responders and Veterans in the community. Although the numbers stayed pretty low, my friend and I (who was a retired firefighter also teaching Yoga) managed to keep these up for almost two years and they are still going on today (although I have since left that part of the country).

One of my proudest moments during this period was when one of the retired members of the fire station approached me quietly one day after class and said 'You know what, I don't know what it is but for some reason I always feel so good after having had attended this class and come the weekend, I always find myself waiting for Wednesday to come' (we did our classes on a Wednesday). Although I knew that it wasn't really me, that it was the practices themselves that were giving him these feelings, I still felt pretty good.

I was soon after approached by a Police mental health organization that asked me to do some Mindfulness training. Here I also had good results teaching Police and Prison Officers some gentle Yoga as well as breathing and meditation techniques. Again many came up after class expressing that this was the first time that they had felt at peace in a long time (just like I had experienced when I first practiced).

My mission is to share Yoga and Meditation practices with Veterans and First Responders everywhere I can. Although it has not always been easy to get Veterans and First Responders to come along and try the classes, once they do turn up and give it a try, I always see a dramatic shift in their domineer and then usually see them turn up for the following class.

In order to keep this mission alive, I now need your support. I have a fantastic opportunity to undertake an amazing Yoga Teacher Training specifically focused towards teaching Veterans. This training is going to help me serve those who have served our country better. The course will improve ability to bring these much needed Yoga and Meditation practices to Veterans and First Responders who I believe can greatly benefit.

Please give generously so that I may raise the funds needed in time and not have this amazing opportunity pass me by. Thank you. 



VETOGA, a veteran run non-profit whose mission is to provide yoga, meditation, and healing arts to active-duty military, veterans, their families and communities.

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, showing that roughly 22 veterans committed suicide each day, or one every 65 minutes. Current research has found that yoga and community involvement have a direct impact on the reduction of post-traumatic stress in veterans, as well as generally increasing overall mental well-being.

We have hosted three very successful VETOGA Teacher Training's with 85 graduates from over 65 cities around the U.S. and Australia.

Now VETOGA will be hosting the our 4th Yoga Alliance Certified 200-hour Teacher Training program specifically designed for veterans. We have trained 85 teachers so far through our program from all over the United States. This teacher training will equip veterans with the holistic tools and teachings to pass on the healing benefits of yoga to their veteran communities. Through this work we enable and encourage veterans to create harmony peace for themselves as well as others, allowing them to continue their service in a more peaceful way.

This is where you come in!

We need your help to raise funds that will allow for the training to be zero cost to the veterans.

They have given up enough of their lives in service to us and now we have an opportunity to serve them back. The funds raised will help pay for 20-30 Veterans to attend the VETOGA teacher training's and the following:

Tuition cost of the VETOGA 200 hour teacher training program; Books and materials required for the teacher training program; Yoga Mats and props for each teacher trainee during the training; help with travel and lodging cost for veterans traveling to Hawaii as needed; rental space of the yoga studio; VETOGA Yoga Nidra CD

VETOGA TEACHING TRAINING                                                SIGN-UP NOW

Some of the topics covered in this course include:
Techniques for the practice and teaching yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, anatomy and physiology of the human body and anatomy in yoga postures; posture alignment, assists, and adjustments; Voice coaching and training; Teaching methodologies and sequencing; Use of props and variations for physical limitations; Yogic lifestyle and ethics as a teacher; Business of yoga; Karma Yoga and creating community.

Ke'ehi Lagoon Memorial will host this teacher training's this year located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Course Dates:
Spring:   May 23rd - June 2nd  (2019) 

Cost for the Teacher Training per Student

$3500 - For Non-Hawaii residents

$2500 - For Hawaii residents

Course Teachers:
The VETOGA Yoga Teacher Training is guided by lead instructors: Justin Blazejewski and Brittanie DeChino and assisted by teacher training staff of veterans and experts for sections in Ayurveda, anatomy and philosophy.

How would you like to support?