Physically and mentally, I left the Army relatively unscathed. I have no service related disabilities and only minor generalized anxiety symptoms. However, my years of service compounded my predisposition to physical inflexibility and vulnerability to stress. It was as-if over the years, my body had grown its own layer of armor, my mind learned to defend against unseen threats and my heart maintained constant guard. Running was a mandatory component of my physical training, which I continued to do after my service. When my knees became painful, my doctor prescribed stretching, which led to yoga.
On one fine day, I discovered Bikram Yoga, and its physical intensity matched my military mindset. For the past ten years, I have relied 100% on Bikram Yoga. My knees are 100% healthy, and I can run for fun when I want to. I can now touch my toes, and the annoying pains I used to feel in my joints have vanished. Furthermore, I feel more comfortable in my skin, more trusting of others and more calmly confident that I am standing exactly where I should be standing.Bikram Yoga contributes to mission readiness. Specifically, it addresses the very demands that characterize the military environment: task performance is set in physically and mentally demanding conditions; stressful training and deployment tempos affect individuals, units and families.
Bikram Yoga builds the physical pillars of strength, endurance, balance and mobility. At the same time, the practice builds mental determination and concentration powers. It helps to decrease the negative effects of daily stressors while increasing mental flexibility to decrease the impact of future stressors. Furthermore, the Bikram Method’s demand for 100% right execution, standardization and precision match the needs of unit leaders, who cannot afford sloppiness or inefficiency.
Spanning a warrior’s lifetime, Bikram Yoga serves as a persistent, reliable method for building and sustaining mental and physical resiliency. During toughening phases, Bikram Yoga builds the inner character and confidence to face and overcome physical and mental demands. Across sustaining phases, Bikram Yoga contributes to joint and connective tissue health, making injuries less likely and task performance more efficient. If injured, an established practice helps the warrior regain joint mobility and physical readiness more quickly. Finally, after a warrior’s uniformed service ends, Bikram Yoga helps veterans capitalize on their military experience and integrate back into the civilian world by maintaining physical health, managing stress and moderating emotional spikes.
The inclusion of Bikram Yoga into the military population contributes to mission readiness. Over the decades since Bikram introduced it to the United States, the Bikram Method has improved overall physical and mental well-being of countless Americans. While the needs of the military population can be much more intense than those of civilian life, every warrior is a human being first. Every human being stands to gain the same benefits from Bikram Yoga.
· We are investigating ways to familiarize Department of Defense leadership to the benefits of Bikram Yoga, at every level, from small-unit leaders, to military schools, to the Pentagon. We seek integration into Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard components.
· We are helping to facilitate the co-application of qualified veterans into both Bikram Yoga Teacher Training and Vocational Rehabilitation, so that qualified veterans will have the option to apply these benefits to attend Teacher Training.
· We want to hear your ideas! Please contact us if you have any information about how Bikram Yoga has been or might be incorporated into military training and family support programs.