Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

AJ-Maste Yoga: Tips for a Healthy Deployment

Military personnel doing a yoga pose Army Sgt. 1st Class Wendy Lopez with Task Force Spartan and the 36th Infantry Division performs the Bikram Yoga, Triangle Pose or Trikonasana, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait in March 2021 (Photo by: Army Staff Sgt. Daisy Broker)

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Yoga comes in many forms and fashions. From Ashtanga to Yin, there is a practice that fits almost everyone. Regular yoga practice has been proven by multiple sources to improve strength, balance, flexibility, and back pain. Regular yoga practice can lessen pain from arthritis, may reduce levels of stress and inflammation, and can even help a person get better sleep.

Army Maj. Toni Savely, secretary of general staff, Task Force Spartan, 36th Infantry Division has been practicing yoga for approximately 10 years, and needed a solution to continue her yoga journey during a deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Savely decided that if Camp Arifjan did not offer classes, she would start a class of her own to maintain her practice and benefit others.

"I knew that I needed to continue my practice in order to maintain and improve all the benefits that yoga has consistently provided me," said Savely.

The stresses of a deployment can be taxing to the body and mind, whether turning wrenches in a combat zone maintenance shop or sitting at a desk eight to sixteen hours a day as a division staff member.

"I believe most people underestimate the importance of yoga and how it can reduce risks for injury, along with many other benefits, said Savely. "A strong core allows the body to function better. So many people sit at a desk or ride in a car for long periods. Doing this can result in weakened muscles that are prone to pain and injury.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Wendy Lopez, non-commissioned officer in charge of cyber electromagnetic activities, Task Force Spartan, 36th Infantry Division highly recommends yoga to everyone, even people who have not tried it before as a way to reduce stress.

"I highly recommend that everyone give yoga a try, especially here in this kind of environment," said Lopez. "Kuwait is a different kind of stress. Not as stressful as a combat zone but stressful nonetheless."

Savely's class has quickly become the highlight of many, including mine. The popularity of her class continues to grow, and after class, service members who observed the class approach those of us attending to ask how they can also join the class.

"I have been surprised by all the participants," said Savely. "There are Soldiers from many different units that attend the classes. There is no advertising for the classes - it is all by word of mouth. Some of the students attend once a week, while others attend three classes per week. There is even some fun competition among the students. For example, Lt. Col. Wilcox and Sgt. 1st Class Wendy Lopez always strive to be the best Yogi in attendance and practice."

For the students that regularly attend, Savely renames a pose in their honor. Army Lt. Col. William Wilcox, knowledge management officer, Task Force Spartan, 36th Infantry Division is a regular yogi touting a pose Savely named "Wild Bill". Only the most devoted Yogis receive this kind of coveted distinction, which adds an additional element of fun to each class.

"After attending Maj. Savely's class, I am a believer that yoga is important regardless of the environment," said Wilcox. "As a more experienced officer trying to lead by example, yoga is essential when maintaining physical fitness. Yoga builds flexibility and resilience," said Wilcox

"The older you get, the less flexible you become, making you more prone to injury. Yoga is uncomfortable for me, but I always feel better afterward. I am also quite certain that yoga has more than helped me avoid injury," said Wilcox.

As teachers know, it is an honor to make a difference for students and see them learn and grow. The yoga that Savely teaches consists of the same movements for each class. The repetition helps the students learn and gain flexibility through the repetition.

Some participants are still of course more flexible than others. Army Sgt. 1st Class Wendy Lopez, also known as "Wacky Wendy," named for being able to bend and contort into positions that most students find difficult.

Then there is Wilcox, he says, "In an attempt to grab the ankle of one leg while balancing the other, I would bounce around flail, gyrate, and fail. Although I am not the best at it now, I am not the worst and can often stay in the pose for the entire time and improve week by week."

Wilcox reflected on a favorite moment from his class where Army Brig. Gen. Win Burkett, deputy commanding general for Task Force Spartan attended. "He was surprised that I had only started yoga during the deployment, and commented that it looked like I had been doing yoga for years," said Wilcox.

Savely strives to make everyone feel comfortable at her classes. She talks the class through each pose and shares useful tips to help each Yogi achieve their pose.

"Maj. Savely made our yoga sessions unique," said Lopez. "I appreciate her coaching us through our moves and not making the first timers to yoga feel out of place. We could not have had a better instructor, an instructor who is willing to wake up so early during the week and spend an hour or more of her time on her only day off each week."

Yoga can be intimidating for many, and others find it through research or by necessity. I personally found it while rehabilitating from a car accident and hip flexor tear more than seven years ago.

"It is never too early or late in life to begin yoga. Savely says, "I know that the AJ-maste class has positively changed people's lives, including mine, and has helped me stay happy, healthy and stress-free during my nine-month deployment in Kuwait."

You also may be interested in...

Regular physical activity is important for health and performance

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A Coast Guardsman works out at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah.

Those who get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week have a much lower risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—the top killers of Americans every year.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness

Finding time for fitness during the work week just got easier

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A person works out the gym.

The new Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program now encourages employees to focus on fitness while at work.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

What is a "healthy" weight-loss eating plan, anyway?

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
A female soldier poses with an apple in her hand.

Weight loss sounds simple: take less “energy in” (fuel from food and drinks, measured in calories) and use more “energy out” (calories burned through daily physical activity and exercise).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

JRTC, Fort Polk promote health, fitness for civilian workforce

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Luewana Hannon (left), community ready and resilient integrator, provides information to Georgia Louis (right) during the education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

The Civilian Fitness and Health Promotions Program hosted an education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Understanding Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, Support for Military Children

Article
9/21/2021
Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years. Given this prevalence and the associated health risks, it’s crucial for anyone treating adolescents to be aware of NSSI.

Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Conditions and Treatments

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

How Good Diet and Exercise Prevent Injury and Disease

Article
8/30/2021
Photo of group doing pushups.

A proper diet and exercise regimen can ward off disease and aid in maintaining your health.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness

MHS and MOS Town Hall To Your Health: Dental Health

Article
8/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource Townhall graphic

MHS and Military OneSource presents a discussion about Dental Health.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Dental Care | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Stay Hydrated for Optimal Performance

Article
8/10/2021
A soldier takes a drink from his canteen.

Proper hydration is key to optimal performance.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Total Force Fitness Physical

Infographic
7/21/2021
Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health Toolkit | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

CHAMP uses more predictive analytics to improve beneficiary healthcare

Article
7/8/2021
A game of tug-of-war

Military health innovation and Total Force Fitness go hand-in-hand.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Innovation Month | Health Innovation – Pathways to Ready Reliable Care | Health Innovations across the MHS Enterprise | MHS Research Symposium

Turn Post-traumatic Stress Into Post-traumatic Growth

Article
6/30/2021
PTSD Infographic

Myths and facts about post-traumatic stress (PTS) and post-traumatic growth (PTG).

Recommended Content:

PTSD Awareness Month | Total Force Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Aphasia, Caused by Stroke or TBI, is Frustrating and Little Known

Article
6/29/2021
A doctor looking at brain scans

Aphasia is an incurable disease usually caused by stroke that affects all forms of communication.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Heart Health | Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

Ask the Doc: Fitness Freaking Out

Article
5/26/2021
Integrating healthy snacks like fruit into kid’s diets will teach them healthy eating habits. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sabrina Fine)

Dear Doc: It seems like every time I go to the commissary, my daughter, 6, and son, 7, tend to gravitate toward the sugary cereals and frozen pizzas, and always want candy bars and sodas at the checkout. As far as I know, and as has been proven by their regularly scheduled check-ups, they are both in great health. The mother in me wants to give them what they want, but the former college athlete and current fitness freak in me is afraid that this might become a problem. For me, eating healthy has become a normal part of my life, and I've come to enjoy things that are healthy and taste good. Aside from tricking them, what can I do to get my kids to eat (and enjoy) more healthy foods? — Fitness Freaking Out

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

TFF cogs Environmental 1200x675

Infographic
5/19/2021
Social media graphic for Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention Month and Environmental Fitness

“Vision and Hearing and Environmental Fitness Ability to perform tasks in any environment"

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.