How Yoga and Embody are Helping Overworked Firefighters

What do you get when you combine overworked firefighters with yoga training? Mentally fit and physically refreshed firefighters. That’s the goal of Embody’s work with exhausted firefighters in northern California endlessly battling mother nature’s scorching forest fires.

You may have heard that Isagenix supports people impacted by natural disasters through our ISA Foundation, but some of our programs are providing much-needed support in a surprising way. ISA Foundation partner, Embody, works to improve global health by providing free access to yoga and mindfulness training to communities that may lack access to this valuable resource.

Read more about how yoga and mindfulness can help people recover from natural disasters.

When Natural Disasters Strike, Firefighters Step Up

The stories are too familiar. Catastrophe strikes and news teams show up to highlight the damage, the needs of the community, and the first responders upon initial impact. But what happens after the crew and cameras leave?

ISA Foundation partner, Embody, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, comes in. They know the lasting, negative effect these types of events can have on weary firefighters and the community as they rebuild. “Just because the media disappears doesn’t mean we do,” says Dana Christian Lee, Embody Founder & Executive Director.

Using the healing tools of yoga and mindfulness, Embody helps burned-out firefighters, homeless populations, and many others living with daily heightened stress regain agency over their own well-being.

Benefits of Yoga for Firefighters

Yoga may seem out of touch with the fire service culture and even a waste of time for those unfamiliar with the original purpose of yoga training. But for firefighters, it’s an efficient way to decompress and center their bodies and minds.

Flexibility

Flexibility is learning to let go of resistance we may not even realize we’re carrying. The deeper and longer you can hold a stretch, the more you feel your body open and free up space for a deeper inner calm.

Firefighters (and all yogis) love this benefit because being flexible:

  • loosens sore and tight muscles,
  • serves as a recharge after strenuous work activity, and
  • means the body is less susceptible to muscle injuries and faster recovery is more likely to occur.

Finding Balance

One purpose of yoga is to create balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The physical practice of yoga offers an intense method for creating balance in the body. Yoga is specifically designed to work toward a balance of strength and flexibility in all muscle groups, with a special focus on proper alignment.

Yoga creates overall balance by:

  • mobilizing all the organs,
  • stimulating the glandular system, and
  • regulating the nervous system.

Yoga also teaches firefighters to be present and mindful, which gives them the focus they need on the job. This is particularly important while doing physically demanding on-the-job tasks.

Strength Training

Although it may appear passive to the casual onlooker, there’s a great deal of strength to be gained by doing yoga, both physically and mentally. The more you understand your body and learn how to use it more efficiently, challenging poses become effortless.

Physical strengthening in yoga comes from:

  • resisting gravity,
  • extending your body in opposing directions, and
  • creating tension between various body parts.

Using the physical body as a training tool in yoga, you can strengthen muscles and open joints. This is a great way for firefighters to release the physical tension stored in their bodies, which could be an eventual predecessor to injury.

Tactical Breathing

Many yoga poses encourage you to reach and hold deep, broad positions while maintaining control of your breathing. This is useful for firefighters in strenuous situations with a limited air supply.

Using manipulated and measured yoga breath patterns can teach your system how to:

  • regulate itself,
  • process stress, and
  • increase the effectiveness of oxygen on the tissues when stress levels are high.

Try it now! Press your pointer finger on your right nostril and breath in and out two times for instant calm.

Check out the Firefighters Rave Reviews:

We asked the firefighters for feedback on the impact this ISA Foundation program with Embody has had on their personal and professional lives so far. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

“Since participating in yoga, I’ve been able to stretch my back, legs, and shoulders which is usually a big issue for me. I also find myself using breathing techniques to help calm myself on stressful calls or when I have a lot on my mind.”

-Logan Davenport

“Yoga has been an immense help in managing stress. Our jobs can be stressful, and it allows me time for self-care and stress release. Yoga has also helped with my strength and flexibility. In the fire service, we wear heavy equipment and are then pulling hoses and throwing ladders. The strength and flexibility from yoga are keys to being able to perform at an elevated level.”

-Jason Engh

“I appreciate the energy our instructor Dana brings to our day. I have had two joint replacement surgeries and yoga coupled with positive energy, has had a noticeable positive impact on my body and mindset.”

-Duncan Smith

Learn more about Embody by visiting FeelBetterDoGood.org.