The month of October packs a punch for all of the national observances related to our mission here at Yoga For First Responders® (YFFR):
National Depression Education and Awareness Month
National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month
National Fire Prevention Month
National Emotional Wellness Month
National Health Literacy Month
Yoga For Mental Resilience
It's finally coming to light that caring for our mental health is equally as important as caring for our physical health. Campaigns like #SmashTheStigma are helping to de-stigmatize actions like seeking assistance for mental health, doing self-screenings for depression and other mental illnesses, and our personal favorite - taking preventative measures to enhance mental resilience (i.e. participating in YFFR classes at your department or organization).
Yoga is not one-and-done. You can't expect to attend one class and suddenly have all the mental fortitude you need to do the job. As first responders, you have to treat it like any other training, which means you have to exercise your mind through yoga and breathing practices in order to build up your mental resilience for the moments when you inevitably need it most.
Jumping into a career as a first responder and expecting not to experience the effects of stress that come with the job is like jumping into the ocean and expecting not to get wet.
What's the answer to staying dry? You train for it.
One of the books we recommend our instructors read after attending a YFFR Instructor School is Warrior 101 by Phil Messina. Phil is a retired NYPD police officer and lifelong martial artist who now owns and operates Modern Warrior dojo on Long Island. In his book, we learn a powerful affirmation for living with a "warrior mindset". We find this definition highly applicable to what our nation's first responders go through each and every day - facing the unknown.
I live my life with the values of a warrior, pursuing my causes and facing the unknown with dignity and courage. -Warrior 101, Phil Messina
Breath Work and Neurological resets
Breath is the heart and foundation of yoga. In times of stress, your breath is all you need to calm down and regain control over your nervous system and ultimately bring you back down to a state of rest. Breath work is also the most versatile and easiest practice to do when you need it at a moment's notice. Our first responders often don't have time to work in even just a brief 20-min yoga mat class between calls. But their breath work they can do in the patrol car, in the midst of an event, and back home in their bed when it's time to rest and reset for the next shift.
Not sure where to start? Begin with the YFFR Cyber Academy.
Cyber Academy is our online training tool and app - available for Apple and Android devices and on all your favorite smart TV streaming services. Just search "Yoga For First Responders". We recommend beginning with 3-Part Breath.
There are a handful of FREE resources on the YFFR Cyber Academy and full-access subscriptions start at just $7.99/month with proceeds going towards the work and mission of Yoga For First Responders®. Although our techniques are field-tested and made with first responders in mind, we encourage anyone to use the Cyber Academy to help process stress, build resilience, and enhance job performance.