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North Hills Monthly

Yoga Studio Helping Veterans Heal

Apr 30, 2016 12:06PM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Yoga saved Sean O’Neill’s marriage. The Iraq war veteran was suffering from PSTD when a veteran friend suggested yoga.

“I honestly believe it saved my marriage. I’m much calmer and am just able to cope with things better,” he said. 

O’Neill, of Sewickley, has been taking yoga for several years now. He thanks Maggi Aebi, his instructor, with teaching him the yoga methods that help him through everyday life. 

Aebi is the owner of a new studio in Mars named appropriately, Yoga On Mars. Aebi and her staff offer various yoga classes for the general public, but the studio also serves as a respite for veterans like O’Neill who can pursue yoga classes geared especially for them. Better yet, Aebi offers veterans classes free of charge. 

Veterans are near and dear to Aebi’s heart. Her late father was a Marine and her late son served with the 82nd Airborne Division in the U.S. Army. “Their lives and service were spent devoted to leaving no comrade behind. Teaching yoga to this specific group is my way of sharing the same healing that has helped me through the trauma in my own life,” Aebi said. 

The Valencia resident has practiced yoga for most of her adult life and in 2006, after years working in physical therapy, decided to take her own yoga practice one step further by becoming an instructor. She has since taught at several yoga and exercise studios in the Greater Pittsburgh area. 

Then in 2012, tragedy struck. Her son, Edward Ereiner Jr., was on his way to Fort Bragg, NC, to report for his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Yoga and her students helped Aebi through that difficult time. 

“When I was teaching and on my mat, I could move forward,” she said. “Yoga carried me.”  

Having seen both her father and son struggle with PTSD and other combat issues, and knowing what it was doing for her, Aebi thought that she might be able to help veterans through yoga. She became trained and certified in teaching yoga for those dealing with trauma through Warriors at Ease, a program that assists veterans through the physical and mental injuries resulting from their service. 

Aebi hopes to spread her work and mission even further by becoming a nonprofit to offer more programming for veterans. “My goal in working with veterans is two-fold: first, to help create a community and camaraderie that hinges on the common denominator of shared experience without having to talk about those experiences,” she said. “And second, to change the number of veteran suicides from 22 a day to zero.”

For more information about Yoga On Mars, visit them on Facebook