Soldiers Turning to Yoga to Battle Stress
> 7/19/2006 3:09:40 PM

CNN ran interesting report from the AP yesterday on how many soldiers, in a variety of service branches, have been taking up yoga to help build flexibility and manage stress. The story sprung out of a recent spread in the national yoga magazine Fit Yoga that depicted two Navy members doing yoga aboard an aircraft carrier.

One former Navy SEAL found not only a great deal of benefit in yoga, but a lot the practice shared with service training:

Steffens, who said the stretching helped him eliminate the stiffness of a biceps injury after surgery, said the benefits of regular practice can be enormous.

"The yoga cured all kinds of back pains," he said. "Being a SEAL, you beat up your body."

Yoga breathing exercises can help SEALs with their diving, and learning to control the body by remaining in unusual positions can help members stay in confined spaces for long periods, he said.

"The ability to stay focused on something, whether on breathing or on the yoga practice, and not be drawn off course, that has a lot of connection to the military," he said. "In our SEAL basic training, there are many things that are yoga-like in nature."

Many of the stretching and breathing exercises in yoga are designed to help cut down on or eliminate stress. The physical nature of the activity along with its mental elements, make it a perfect fit for soldiers who are looking to improve on their performance while easing the stressors of training and combat.

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