Yoga is an up and coming fitness trend for firefighters for multiple reasons. As a simple, introspective practice, yoga serves both the mind and body of each firefighter. Yoga addresses a firefighter’s unique job demands, enhancing both mental and physical performance in life or death situations. Yoga is a man’s exercise as well, used as a science in India to help train and condition their army. Yoga is not easy when practiced properly, and can benefit firefighters’ lives both on and off the job in the following ways.
The fight or flight reaction is a common occurrence among firefighters, where the surge of adrenaline and the reaction of the nervous system to stimuli can send a firefighter crashing after putting out a fire. Exhaustion and mood fluctuations can follow. Since the breathwork taught in yoga unites mind and body as one, breathwork restores balance to firefighters, calming the mind, reuniting mind and body, and restores a normal sense of body reactivity to external stimuli. Breathwork essentially translates into breath control, which helps regulate the nervous system. When trained to breathe correctly in the midst of extreme stressors, firefighters enhance their performance on the job with better decision making.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, especially given the daily demands on firefighters. Enhancing overall wellbeing through stretches, breathing exercises, and poses, yoga also helps alleviate depression. Given the stress levels and pressure on firefighters to perform well, along with the prevalence of PTSD symptoms among firefighters, using yoga to mitigate symptoms of stress is paramount. Pain, such as back pain from being a firefighter, can also cause stress and an inability to relax. Such back pain can be caused by a core that is constantly tested on the job. Yoga is well known to target the muscles of your core that in turn give the rest of your body a break.
Flexibility and focus
Another way to avoid pain on the job is to use yoga to improve flexibility. Flexibility helps you avoid potential injuries, where stretching for poses helps you identify pain and weak spots in order to strengthen them. The mindfulness techniques involved with this stretching also helps firefighters learn how to best focus on the job. The mindfulness techniques of yoga together paired with learning how to flexible help a firefighter perform in the field by teaching his or her body to relax while working. Mindfulness and meditation techniques also help achieve quality sleep.
Firefighters are trained to be physically strong, and yoga helps make firefighters stronger, both physically and mentally. Mental strength comes from listening to the within and how your body feels with each pose. You must be attuned to your core when practicing yoga, and you must be attuned to your body’s cues and your core self to fight fires efficiently as possible. By holding poses, firefighters extend muscular endurance which pays off at the scene of a fire.
In short, yoga can restore balance and sense of self to firefighters, who have demanding jobs involving personal risk every day. Through learning proper breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, stress-reducing practices, flexibility exercises, and strength enhancers, yoga is an excellent exercise complement to any firefighter. So to try yoga as a firefighter, check out the classes we offer and sign up today!