We just mentioned yesterday how yoga can help condition your body to increase chances of survival in the event of an emergency, including police emergencies when a weapon needs to be drawn and there’s no room for error. Today there’s news that takes this idea a huge lunge further – yoga soldiers! A study is being conducted in India, a country with the second largest military after China, where soldiers’ daily 90-minute exercise regimens are supplanted with 50 minutes of yoga. And the results have been patently positive – steadier hands, stronger grips, leaner muscles. Yoga ninja, anyone?
OK, so to us it makes perfect sense – yoga promotes a nimble mind and body, two things very much required on the battlefield – but we can’t quite imagine how ahimsa (non-violence) could factor into this. Though, in dreamland we can’t help imagining yoga soldiers of the world dropping their weapons and uniting in yoga practice, together in peace. Ah, maybe someday.
Warrior pose turns Indian yoga soldiers into deadly foes [Times UK]
There’s a lot more to this issue. I have previously written about it for the Guardian UK.
Naturally, yogis in America, always looking for a “soft” promotional angle, have focused on the rehabilitation aspect – and certainly that’s important.
However, the Pentagon is actually looking at yoga as a “full-spectrum” capability, one that applies, in their lingo, “pre-theater,” “in-theater” and “post-theater.”
Pre-theater is basic training, moving away from pure calisthenics and muscle building into core-strength and above all, flexibility for the new recruits.
In-theater is the actual war-fighting skills, because yoga can definitely make you a more nimble and effective killer. The Navy SEALS, whose assassination missions depend on stealth and quiet, have taken to yoga for years.
However, there is a general perception in the US military these days that mental acumen, concentration and focus are more important than physical strength. Even if you are not carrying a rifle, the management of battle is increasing complex and technical – and as always, highly stressful.
And then there’s the post-theater rehab, including not just the physical injuries but also just as important the war trauma and PTSD.
There are people in the Yoga Nidra movement – now renamed iREST – who are focusing on war trauma specifically, and working closely with Walter Reed and other hospitals.
It’s probably a myth that “ahimsa” ever meant “pacificism” and “non-violence” in the Western political sense.
Gandhi introduced that emphasis but the earlier yoga history is replete with accounts of yoga as preparation for battle.
Yes, yoga is the everything, as so many yogis like to insist — and that means luxury capitalism and militarism, too!