In 2003 I volunteered to go to Afghanistan. During my tour I was tasked with moving Taliban prisoners from austere air bases to central confinement containment facilities, oftentimes coming under enemy fire. In one such encounter, I herniated two disks in my upper back. When I got back I went to see an orthopedic surgeon and he told me the herniation was pushing up against my spinal cord which was causing me all the pain. He suggested surgery but said I could try other options first. I sought out other options. I went to physical therapy, which was helping but I still had pain; then one of the therapists suggested I try Yoga. I thought to myself that it's better then surgery and gave it a try. I have never looked back, I really do feel ten years younger. The new guys in my squadron think I'm much younger than I am due to my Yoga practice. -Name Withheld
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I started yoga when I was in the Marines. It helped calm me down when I was feeling extremely anxious. When I got out, I really needed something to relieve my anxiety, anger, trauma and depression. Eventually I got tired of feeling so negative about everything, and so bad about myself.
I had a bunch of injuries, and because I had trouble working out the way I once did, I had a lot of pent up energy in my mind and body. I became a yoga teacher and everything started to change. I learned to meditate, to breathe deeply, and to feel like I had some control of my mind when I felt lousy. Yoga saved my life. -A.K. Bhagwati , former Marine Captain I am an active duty Soldier with over 25 years of service in the U.S. Army. I have been jumping out of airplanes for about 19 of those years. Last year, I went crashing through some trees on an airborne operation. Despite the whole world being a big drop zone, I hit the ground harder than normal. After limping around for a while, I went to see the docs and was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease with arthritis. I'm currently deployed to Iraq and incorporated Yoga into my physical fitness regimen. My back feels great without the muscle relaxers and pain killers. Yoga has been the candy for my spine. I will be doing Yoga well into my senior citizen years. -Amos Fischer, Sergeant Major, U.S. Army I am currently on my 2nd tour in Iraq and 4th deployment since 9/11. I first tried Yoga in April 2008 after seeing a picture of a former professional wrestler who now teaches Yoga. The moment I tried it I was hooked, buying all kinds of videos, audios, and books. I have had a daily practice ever since. Here at Camp Taji we have a fairly strong Yoga community that practices together three times a month. My back has never felt better and my outlook on life has been brighter this deployment compared to the last one. -Chaplain (CPT) Patrick Moore I am currently on my second tour in Iraq. My first tour was in Al Asad, and I flew over 500 hours in an ejection seat aircraft. My body was killing me and needed a rebalancing. I was not the only one feeling the discomfort. I have always been a fan of yoga, but there were no classes offered for my time schedule or on the south side of the airfield. I started working on my certification and taught classes on the roof top of our headquarters building. It was called "Combat Yoga" to encourage the Marines to partake in the class. I got so much feedback from the students that it was requested that I keep teaching once we redeployed. Now I am currently in Baghdad and teach the same class here. The class has grown from 15 people on the first day of class to over 40 people, for many of which this is their first yoga experience. -Capt Joleen Young, USMC
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