October 07, 2019

Hope & healing through yoga

Margot Kent Timbel ’75 helps veterans with PTSD
by Nancy Hitchcock

People rave that yoga provides health benefits such as relieving stress, reducing headaches, and lowering back pain. Participants of Comeback Yoga classes cite one more: they believe it can save lives.

The Colorado-based nonprofit provides free yoga classes to veterans and military personnel, their families, and supporters. Margot Kent Timbel ’75 cofounded the organization with her husband, Ned, in 2014 to help veterans develop tools to cope with post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The virtual organization is designed to serve veterans where they are, whether in VA hospitals, outpatient clinics, conference rooms, or military bases.

“In the military, people are trained to be on alert all the time,” explains Timbel, “therefore, parts of the brain are never at rest. Yoga is calming; it can help them reconnect with their bodies, which rebuilds their confidence and control. It’s very empowering.”

The decision for Timbel and her husband to “take a hard-right turn” in their careers was mutual and meaningful. When thinking about ways to positively impact people’s lives, they decided to give back to military personnel, in part because both of their fathers were WWII veterans.

Margot Kent Timbel '75 and husband, Ned

Timbel grew up in Andover and attended Abbot as a day student, then experienced Abbot merging with Phillips before graduating in 1975. After completing her college studies at Princeton, Timbel worked in the oil and gas industry for 35 years—first as a geologist and eventually becoming senior vice president at Anschutz Exploration Corporation. She “retired” to work with Ned—also a geologist—to create Comeback Yoga that, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, would provide not just yoga classes, but teaching scholarships as well.

“Military service is tribal,” says Timbel. “When someone you identify with is teaching, people drop some barriers really quickly. That’s very powerful.”

Students express gratitude that the organization has helped them connect with others, provided a sense of belonging, and enabled them to better integrate into society. One student, who became a certified yoga instructor, called Comeback Yoga “a last shot at hope,” which helped turn her life around from living in despair.

Another student-turned-teacher, Matt Wetenkamp was a sniper in the Marine Corps. “He was on a self-destructive path after his deployment and honorable discharge,” Timbel says. “Now he is a parent, a college graduate, and an inspirational speaker. He speaks with passion to the impact yoga has on regulating his nervous system so that he has, within himself, tools to live a better life.”

To provide the most rewarding classes to military personnel and their supporters, Timbel and her husband constantly read and research about the latest updates in biology, neurobiology, therapy, and yoga. They are committed to providing a safe environment to help others reduce anxiety, heal trauma, and gain confidence. “Our goal is to expand to other areas of Colorado and beyond,” says Timbel. “Yoga builds resilience and resilience is a life skill.”

Categories: Alumni, Magazine Online

Other Stories

Athletics Hall of Honor to welcome 5 new inductees

A professional lacrosse goalie, a cosmetics CEO, football legends, and others to be celebrated at June 8 ceremony

The gift that left an English teacher speechless

$4 million campaign gift will endow Andover Bread Loaf program