Exalted Warrior Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that facilitates an adaptive yoga instruction program. Exalted Warrior serves Veterans, active duty and military reserves, as well as spouses and caregivers in VA hospitals and in community studio spaces around the country.
Faced with the demands of both a physical and emotional recovery, adaptive yoga allows newly and long-term disabled veterans to reconnect with both themselves and their loved ones. Warriors with PTS, amputations, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries have greatly benefitted from our modified yoga practices in conjunction with iRest and meditation.
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Teachers & Staff
Annie Okerlin, Founder
Annie has been a yoga teacher since 1999. Annie has been a yoga teacher since deciding to deepen her practice in 1999 by becoming a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor. Within three weeks she knew teaching yoga was her passion in life and Yogani, Tampa became the home for it. In 2001 she did a 200-hour teacher training with Shiva Rea.
The daughter of two World War II and Korean War veterans, Annie has a deep appreciation for the veterans of our country. Her passion for helping the wounded warriors of today’s wars led her to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC in 2006 where she has worked with the traumatically injured, including amputees, burn victims, those with orthopedic poly-trauma, traumatic brain injuries, spinal-cord injuries, as well as unseen injuries such as PTSD and moral injury.
Annie founded Yogani in Tampa and was the owner of this successful yoga studio for over 18 years. She continues to share yoga and meditation with the military community of Tampa by teaching classes at the VA hospital, local studios, and in retreat settings.
As one of the nation’s leading experts on Adaptive Yoga, Annie teaches nationally and internationally with The Exalted Warrior Foundation, a non-profit organization she founded in 2010 to support wounded warriors with the seen & unseen issues of traumatic injury.
Annie is a Human Performance expert for 02x presenting yoga for resiliency & iRest Yoga Nidra to tactical athletes & first responders nationwide. She is on faculty at Warriors At Ease teaching other yoga teachers how to teach in a military setting.
In addition to her extensive yoga training and experience, Annie is a Certified iRest® teacher & has also co-authored the book Best Practices for Yoga for Veterans, as well as the Exalted Warrior Foundation's Yoga & Meditation Practice Guide.
Visit Annie's website to learn more about the classes & trainings she offers.
Nicholas Caris, Administrative & Teacher
Nicholas Caris isn’t your usual Marine infantry veteran. He has been doing yoga since 2012 and began teaching the practice to other veterans in 2014. When Nicholas was honorably discharged in 2011 he found his new home in Tampa, Fl. Like many veterans, Nicholas hadn’t realized the significance of what he encountered during his time in the military. Moreover, it began to slowly affect his life mentally, physically, and emotionally. As he attempted to seek care he found it extremely difficult and began to look for more natural solutions that weren’t just treating symptoms, but also could improve his quality of life while attempting to reduce those symptoms altogether. Finding more than just physical relief from his injuries, yogic philosophy became a mental relief as well. Nicholas says while he has yet to overcome his disabilities and even his emotional anxiety, he finds that drawing all his attention into practice each day is the main reason he hasn’t given up on life. Finding comfort, ease, and peace through this focus he says is his purpose for practicing. “I get to take a moment for me, without anything external affecting the moment. Just me and my mat or my meditation cushion. My breathe, one thought, and one us.” says Nicholas.
Nicholas has been helping Exalted Warrior Foundation since they brought him into the community yoga program in 2012. With an education in business and technology, he keeps Exalted Warrior up to date in the technology that helps serve our veterans across the country. He also is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga teacher and personally trained in working with trauma victims by our founder. Nicholas has also taught yoga and meditation to inpatient substance abuse veteran clients learning how to help them overcome addiction and sustain sobriety naturally to better support the overall Exalted Warrior Foundation mission and veteran health. Nicholas is passionate about not only creating healthy responses to his own traumas symptoms from service, as well as his brothers and sisters encountering their struggles.
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