From DUI to TRY

The stories we hear in Trauma Recovery Yoga are awful, but what manifests afterwards is heartwarming.
In this recent story, most significant to me was the compassionate response of the victim’s father to Matthew, his ability to see further into the future, past his own loss and grief, to perhaps give himself hope that this person who took away his child, could learn a lesson, grow from it, and turn it into something outward and beneficial to others around him. And by Matthew finding TRY and accepting it and embracing it, we are certain he will be that person the father hopes for.

Our Trauma Recovery Yoga teaching team recently met the young man who was the DUI driver in this story. It’s a story of heartbreak on so many levels; yet his pain and remorse led him to our team. He will now teach Trauma Recovery Yoga. He made a tragic mistake in judgment that night, but now he is being given a chance to be a good man*.

““As far as I’m concerned, I serve a life sentence between my ears and in my heart. I have lessons you can’t read in books,” Dungan said. “Ones you can only get through the human experience.”

*In an emailed statement to The Coloradoan, Sherwood’s father, Jeff Sherwood, shared a message for the young man who took his son’s life. “What I have always wanted to tell Mr. Dungan is as follows,” he began.”Matthew, my sons, including Austin, and myself are amateur historians. One of our favorite movies was ‘Saving Private Ryan.’If you recall as Capt Miller lies mortally wounded, he tells Pvt. Ryan, ‘Earn this, James.’ Going forward, James Ryan is an old man standing with his family at the American Cemetery at Normandy in front of Capt Miller’s headstone. He turns to his wife and asks, ‘Have I been a good man?’ She is astounded by the question. She embraces him and tells him, of course he has.So Matthew, this terrible tragedy, earn it. Be more passionate about life, set goals and achieve them, be kind and generous and live each and every day to its fullest. Remember Austin. I pray that when you are an old man, and you ask your loved ones, ‘Have I been a good man?’, they too will be astounded by such a question and say, ‘Of course you have.'”

What do you picture when you hear “yoga class”?  Do you envision a studio filled with fit young women in fashionable yoga pants doing headstands and seemingly impossible poses?  That’s what I used to think a few years ago.  I found Trauma Recovery Yoga “TRY” to be an entire circle of  people who are loving, supportive, and devoted to the healing of others.  And the classes are not as I envisioned – they are filled with humans – yes, including men – of all sizes, shapes and walks of life.  But they all have one thing in common: trauma.  

While it’s true that there are more female yoga instructors, TRY has been increasingly attracting male instructors to their method.  And by doing so, more men are willing to see what TRY is all about.  

“Why would a lumpy old guy like me go to yoga? I still don’t know but I did. The realization that I wasn’t the only one in the room sweating profusely and tipping over was somehow welcoming. Then there was this magical thing called “Shavasana” that made me feel it was ok to cry. I didn’t understand what was going on but deep down inside I knew that I needed whatever it was that “Shavasana” was providing, even if it meant sweating and tipping over to earn it.” These are some thoughts from Max, one of our TRY students who, after finding his own sense of peace from the method, became a certified Trauma Recovery Yoga instructor; he now holds classes of his own. Shavasana is a pose of total relaxation—making it one of the most challenging. It is the final pose in the Trauma Recovery Yoga method; it is the end goal of the entire sequence, to find that place of total relaxation.

The thing about healing is when you help somebody else on their own healing path, it fixes a little part of your own broken heart. Max is but one of many individuals who has found some peace on the mat and has gone on to help others.

“We rise by lifting others.”

Every week I speak to people who attend Trauma Recovery Yoga or who want to attend in the future. I hear their stories, their experiences, their sadness, their fears. Those who have just finished a class have a look of calm and relief upon their face, and sometimes tears will fall – perhaps unwillingly. I tell them that this is a safe place to cry, to open up, to feel. Our yoga instructors say it is a compliment for somebody to cry or fall asleep in class, indicating you’ve been taken to a different place.

Trauma has a profound effect on a human.  The memories of a traumatic incident never go away.  Trauma Recovery Yoga provides a way in which to manage the aftereffects that appear in no particular chronological order.  Centering, grounding and breathing start the TRY sequence, and can be utilized in any space for calming and controlling one’s anxious thoughts.  You can be caught in a highly stressful situation, unexpected freeway traffic while on the way to an important appointment for example, and as you sit there waiting for the cars ahead of you to move, you can take a moment and find a bit of peace with these tools.

Trauma Recovery Yoga classes are held on various days and times at the Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op, located at 701 East Bridger Avenue, Las Vegas NV 89101, inside the Driven Neurorecovery Center. Free parking is available in the underground garage Monday through Friday between 6am and 6pm. Access the garage entrance on 8th Street. Free street parking on 8th Street and Bridger Avenue is available Monday through Friday after 6pm and on weekends.

Go to for class schedules and additional information.

I also host a Trauma Recovery Class every Wednesday night at 5:45pm. The 705, located at 705 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Las Vegas NV 89106. $10 drop in fee goes directly to our instructor. Any questions can be directed to

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