Yoga + Military Life

Yoga + Military Life

by Kelly Campbell
Stripes Okinawa
What word comes to mind when you think of the world we live in today? For me, it’s overwhelming. Each one of us is pulled in a variety of different directions and wear a multitude of different hats. Being part of the military community adds an additional layer to that. Only a small percentage of individuals have experienced military life, which can make finding common ground with others difficult.
Moves can happen frequently, forcing us to start again. As a whole, we experience new cultures, undergo separation from loved ones, and find ourselves questioning our sense of belonging.  This is where yoga comes in. It’s a connection of mind and body through breath and movement. Yoga can allow you to challenge your body, explore your mind, and encourage community. Doing so, you can shed some layers of uncertainty about yourself and your place in this ever-changing world.
My first question to myself when I contemplated trying yoga was, “I wonder how flexible this will make me?”  I originally found yoga to compliment my fitness routine. I naively thought that the only growth I would experience would be in a physical aspect. After becoming a military spouse and mother, I found a deeper appreciation for the many benefits of yoga. I view my yoga mat as a place to energize, restore, and remember my purpose. It allows me a mental clarity I did not realize I had been missing. For this, I am grateful.
Now that I am a yoga teacher, I strive to provide an inviting space where individuals can come exactly as they are. To supply my students with a place where they know they aren’t alone in the challenges faced both on and off the mat. To encourage reflection on the physical and emotional sensations that may arise during their practice. Being less concerned with “keeping up” with other participants in the room and more focus on honoring their own body.
The human experience can be vigorously challenging and filled with uncertainty. Which the military community knows well. It can be hard to navigate and handle the unexpected tasks we are presented with. One way to implement balance in our lives is to practice yoga. It can provide you tools to better handle life, with flexibility and strength as an additional bonus. Trust me when I say, there is space for you in this fast paced and ever-changing world. You belong. I belong. We belong.
Editor’s note: Various military instillations all over the world offer free yoga to active members, civilians, and spouses. Kelly is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher with a background in vinyasa, yin, and stand up paddle board yoga. Kelly can be found teaching on Kadena Air Base, Camp Shields, and Kadena Marina in Okinawa, Japan. For further details on her yoga offerings follow her on Instagram @_kelly_campbell_

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