THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR FIRST RESPONDERS
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Before I transitioned to my career as a yoga teacher I worked for the Federal Government in the Community Corrections section. I worked with Federal offenders being released back into the community on parole. I had a variety of roles within this section of the government.
At one point I was working one-on-one with offenders who were being released back into the community under a variety of conditions. Our role was to help them find jobs, stay on budget, learn to interact appropriately with others, and to monitor their behaviour and report any problems to their parole officer.
Although I didn’t feel stressed out while I had this job, when I look back now I realize how much of a toll my responsibilities took on my behaviour and my mental health. It took only a few months for this role to change my behaviour and it took years to get myself back to my normal. I loved my job and I do not regret doing it. But it definitely has helped me appreciate the role our first responders have and the toll their jobs take on them physically, mentally and emotionally.
I started practicing yoga during my time with the government. It helped me immensely! I think it’s obvious that yoga has changed my life completely and my goal now is to bring the benefits of yoga to as many people as I can.
Here are some reasons I believe yoga is great for our first responders:
1. MOVING MEDITATION //
Before I started practicing yoga, I had started running. I loved that running was a great way to get out of my head, or into my head, depending on what I needed. I was focused on one task and all my energy went into keeping my legs moving and my breath steady for that time I was running.
When I discovered yoga, I found the same benefit with way less effort. No matter how much or little energy I had, yoga was the best way for me to reset my mind and take an hour or so out of my day that was just mine. My mat became a place of comfort and support. I could focus on my breath and movement of my body and let everything else go.
2. USING BREATH IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS //
Yoga has taught me the simplicity of using my breath to steady my body and my nerves. I am better at regulating my response to stressful situations. Before I react to something I take a big cleansing breath. This gives me a chance to check in with my state of mind and a chance for my body to relax.
It’s so easy to push through certain situations and think that we are fine. But, our breath tells us the truth about our body. When we take time to notice the breath we might find that we are holding our breath or breathing really heavily. If you notice that the breath is not steady and strong, take a minute to re-focus on the breath and your body response will follow.
3. LESSONS FROM THE MAT //
I give myself permission in my practice to rest when I need, drink water when I need, and to listen to my body. I offer this to my students as well. And I think it is so important for us to allow these permissions in our daily lives. We need to take time to rest, drink water, eat healthy foods, and talk to friends and family about the stresses we are dealing with.
Yoga is not about the positions we put our bodies in but is about learning about our bodies, learning to grow as people, learning to be more in tune with our bodies and minds, and learning more about ourselves.
How has yoga changed your life? Please share in the comments!
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