Today was my first day of the 200 hour yoga teacher training. Lots to discuss, but let’s start with the lunchtime conversation I had with a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, with multiple combat tours under her belt, who also teaches yoga. She lead classes for a Special Forces group in 2002.
I told her that in my experience yoga makes me more peaceful, so how do you go from yoga to shooting?
She said that people in the military aren’t out to shoot people, and that an operation goes best when no one has to fire a shot.
“Yes”, I said, “that may work for 98% of the people in the military, but a lot of times when Special Forces go out it is specifically to kill someone, yet they are the ones that seem to be into yoga. How does that work?”
“When they go out they want to pull the trigger as little as possible”, she told me, “and when they do pull the trigger they want to do it accurately. Yoga helps them control heart rate, focus, concentration, so they can do their jobs right and be emotionally stable when it’s over. And when they do kill someone, it is because the person they killed was going to do something much worse later.”
The class is full of veterans from many, many wars. Some came to yoga through VA programs for post-traumatic stress disorder; some found their way to yoga on their own. They look at me like I am some kind of tough survivor with my scars and bionics. Yoga teacher training is a wild place.
Learn more at the Veterans Yoga Project.