There is a sudden wave on news online that the US Military has decided to use yoga as a means to get is soldiers in top fighting shape. The IndiaExpress.com runs the headline “US Army turns to yoga for making soldiers combat ready” and stated:
“Yoga is being made part of forces new fitness regimen already brought into force from March 1 in a drastic overhaul of the combat readiness being carried out for the first time in 30 years”
There are many other news stories saying the same thing, so it must be true? Well, on closer inspection, there are many news stories saying exactly the same thing, which means that they are all just blindly copying each other without making any attempt to get to the bottom of the story.
The sites running this story are generally either Indian news sites, such as West-bengal.com and Indiareport.com or yoga stores, such as Yogabin.com and Matsmatsmats.com (which sells yoga mats!).
So, what is the real story? Are America soldiers ditching their military presses and doing the Cobra instead? Well, in short, no.
The original story came out in 2010, in an article on Army.mil titled “Yoga helps vets find balance”. The article talked about how some soldiers that are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have learnt to cope with their problems by using a combination of yoga, Pilates, meditation and other exercises.
Also, this is not a widespread trend across the whole US military. The story was about yoga instructor Ginger Doughty who provides yoga instruction to soldiers for 2 hours each week as part of their treatment for anxiety, depression, insomnia and other symptoms of PTSD. The lessons are focused on helping soldiers cope with anxiety attacks.
“Yoga helps them to realize that those feelings will pass,” Doughty said. “It teaches them that they already have all the tools they need to get through those episodes.” Source: www.army.mil
Ginger Doughty also goes on to say that she does not believe that yoga can help everyone that is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Some soldiers respond well, others do not.
Yoga 360, is part of Soldier 360
The story does not end there though. In February 2011 Army.mil issued a report about how U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr in Germany was uses yoga, and some soldiers admitted to having a good workout with it.
“I came in thinking it was a joke, but after one session I felt great,” said Sgt. Miguel Maldonado, the rear detachment noncommissioned officer for 8th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. “And a little sore,” he added.
Soldier 360 is a new comprehensive multidisciplinary course for military leaders to learn about health and wellness.
“Rucking and running are not the only two ways we can develop fitness,” said Wurglitz. “And what Soldiers found is there’s nothing fluff about yoga.”
During the yoga workouts family members can join in with the serving officers, which provides a unique opportunity for soldiers to exercise with their partners.
So there is some truth in the stories of the US Army taking up yoga, but it does not form a fundamental part of their new basic training or fitness programs. So if you are thinking of joining the armed forces, leave your yoga mat and blocks at home and be prepared for a 20 mile quick march.