In little more than 2½ years, a tiny pilot yoga program for six bold firefighters has expanded to include more than 100 firefighters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Why is yoga in fire stations growing so quickly given that, on the surface, yoga seems like the antithesis of firefighting?
The assumption among many firefighters is that yoga is soft, feminine, and gentle–that it promotes flexibility but not strength. But this assumption is misinformed. While developing flexibility is certainly an aspect of yoga, it’s just one branch of a tree that has many limbs. Building strength and resilience and promoting moderation in all aspects of life are also key branches of yoga practice. Now that I’ve spent considerable time teaching yoga in fire stations, I see very clearly the striking similarities between the firefighter and yoga cultures. I believe the reason firefighters are embracing yoga with such enthusiasm has as much to do with these similarities as it does with the physical and psychological relief yoga provides.
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