Last Tuesday I took a yoga class at Walter Reed with Wounded Warriors.
Daniel, my yoga teacher, has been teaching Yoga to wounded warriors at Walter Reed for six years. It was this bit of knowledge that swayed my discussion to take his class.
Anyway, he tells me to meet him at the top of the Bethesda Naval Metro stop 45 min early.
We walk on the base and he takes me on a brief tour of the facilities.
When we walk into the main area I'm surprised by the size and the sound of the place. There are about 100 people in and around a room the size of large gymnasium. There is a track around the outer wall. Different weight and resistance machines in pockets throughout. In the middle are massage and therapy tables. The colors are bright, the music is loud, the energy is strong.
Daniel and I walk over to a room in the back corner next to the rock climbing wall. Daniel starts setting up the space. Three female warriors show up and as we are settling down a doctor comes over to Daniel and introduces a wounded warrior saying that he needs to work on his core.
As the guy walks over I can't help but smile. He's a big guy. The kinda guy you'd see playing middle linebacker or humping the 240 Bravo. Anyway, he walks up with a big ole dip in his mouth and smiles with a flash of embarrassment as he proclaims, " I should probably take this out."
Everyone laughs and Daniel says "No worries, man. You can keep it in if you want". This guy is clearly new to yoga, but this little exchange breaks the ice and he settles in with the rest of us.
As we all settle in and start moving I ask the guy if he's Army. He says yes, from the 82nd.
As I tell when I was in Iraq, one of the female warriors proclaims she was in Iraq the same time and at the same base. She was JAG and did the casualty reports at FOB Rustamyah when the gym got hit by a rocket in 06.
The military may be big, but you always seem to run into people who have a direct link to where you have been.
Anyway, we go through different ranges of motion, mostly through the major joints. Daniel modifies everything to accommodate the fact that the Jag officer is recovering from an IED that left her with a fractured hip and TBI and the soldier from the 82nd lost his left leg.
Side Bar: If you have ever thought that Yoga was just a bunch of weird poses, I promise you that it is much more than that.
The class proceeds smoothly. There is talk of changing the name of the class to something other that yoga. One of the females claims that her husband would love what we are doing, but because the class is called yoga he thinks that someone is going to tell him to stand on his head.
At the end, Daniel leads us through a meditation. Just like the meditations I link to below, Daniel encourages us to follow our senses to get out of our thinking minds.
After about five minutes the meditation ends. We start to come to a seated position when the 82nd soldier gives off an embarrassed laugh.
"I passed out" he said " sorry about that"
"No worries" Daniel says "when I was taking a class in Costa Rica I would always fall asleep during the meditation. There I was in a class full of students snoring like a chainsaw five minutes into each meditation."
"After the third time this happened I started getting frustrated" he continued "I'm going to stay up no matter what. I told myself. When the meditation began the last thing I remember before I fell asleep again was the teacher saying...."
"Stop resisting what your body is telling you. Jut listen"
After class Daniel told the 82nd soldier about Armor Down and I told him about the different mindfulness meditations I have. He gave me his email address and I sent him a meditation that night.
I hope it helped.
This post was guided by the 50th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
Armor Down has a website. Check it out.
If you like the AD Facebook page and I'll email you the PDF of a book called "Mindfulness in Practical English".
Lisa Wimberger's meditations:
Grounding Your Armor
Riding the Sun
Thrive as a civilian.