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Mental health benefits of nature; Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Katherine Hobbs
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WJCT News
Jacob's Well is a perennial karstic spring in Wimberley, Texas.

This weekend marks the vernal equinox otherwise known as springtime. It's the time when days and nights are equal in length and we exit winter. This year this date holds two meanings: the scientific astronomical meaning and the other a metaphorical one given our hopeful reemergence from another winter of the pandemic.

If you’re wondering if it’s safe to get outside as we emerge from our COVID winter, experts on this medical show say “yes!”

A new program launched last month in four Canadian provinces called PaRX gives some doctors the option of providing patients with a free annual pass to the country's national parks as part of an effort to increase access to nature and the health benefits to be found outside.

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that time in nature can improve all kinds of different physical and mental health conditions, which, in turn, improves patient health, reduces costs to the health care system, and perhaps makes all participants more environmentally aware. With spring upon us, we focus our show on the health benefits of the outdoors.Guests:

Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The aim of the monthlong campaign is to educate people about the effects that living with brain injury can have on the injured and their families. Moreover, awareness helps to de-stigmatize the injury, empower those who have survived and promote the many types of support that are available.

Our next guest brings a unique and inspirational twist to that support with the help of yoga. Dan Nevins is a highly decorated veteran, who was severely injured during combat in Iraq in 2004 after an improvised explosive device detonated under his vehicle. He eventually lost both legs below the knee and lives with a traumatic brain injury, along with the emotional wounds of war.

After one of his many surgeries, Nevins discovered the life-changing power of yoga, which has enabled him to heal from the invisible wounds of war in a way that nothing else could. He quickly realized that other wounded warriors could benefit from yoga in the same way and knew he had to become an instructor. Nevins became a Baptiste Yoga teacher in 2015, and now incorporates the notion of “yoga for every-body” into his speeches and classes, encouraging people from all walks of life, and veterans, in particular, to take up the practice.

Word of Nevins' efforts spread quickly, and he has been invited to teach yoga throughout the world, from the White House in Washington, D.C., to the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi, Kenya. He has now established the Warrior Spirit Retreat and is working on programs to assist others in similar situations.

Guest: Dan Nevins, founder of Warrior Spirit Retreat.

Florida Roundup Associate Producer Katherine Hobbs can be reached at khobbs@wjct.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.
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