The purpose of this morning’s blog is to talk about an active duty/veteran/military view of yoga versus reality. There are no rights and wrongs, only perceptions of those.

If you had asked me three years ago what I thought of yoga – it would be a very straightforward answer: Cute girls in tight stretchy pants able to contort their bodies in weird, pretzel-like ways. I knew absolutely nothing other than that…and quite frankly, had no desire to know or think about any more than that.

Fast forward to 2014. I was invited by one of my oldest, closest and dearest friends to come to Florida as his guest to one of the Yoga Journal Live conferences. I was in a seriously dark place in my life – still trying to figure out life after medical retirement. So my thoughts shifted to Florida in winter, cute girls in yoga pants and hanging out and drinking with two very close friends. I bought my tickets that day and a couple of weeks later I was in Florida enjoying it all.

My perceptions were confirmed. 99.9% of the folks attending were young women, all wearing the latest in yoga pants fashion. There were folks who looked like they stepped off of the Jerry Garcia van, and others who carried themselves very beautifully. There were a handful of men, most of whom I assumed were gay.

I decided that since I was there, I might as well sign up for some of the classes and lectures. I was never one to go out and lay on a beach all day looking for my tan – plus, the thought of sweating in the sun in the sand was not my idea of relaxing.

I remind you, I knew absolutely nothing about yoga – so I signed up for an Ashtanga class lead by Kino MacGregor I think. Like most folks new to yoga, and being military, I pushed myself through every move to the best of my ability. I was sweating my ass off, I felt like a complete failure. I made sure I was in the back of the room for fear of embarrassment (remember this statement).

I did not really enjoy it – and my thoughts about yoga were quickly deteriorating into my sense of a fad that I would never be involved with.

I signed up for a paddleboard yoga class – another bad idea for a non-yoga person. I figured what the heck. Sit on a paddleboard, do some moves, hang out in the water. Spoiled once again. The swells made anything difficult, especially a beginner. There were jellyfish in the water and one of my friends took a herd of jellyfish anger in his leg and groin area…yeah, it just kept getting better.

Then I went to a lecture with Gary Kraftsow. This was one of my initial turning points.

To be continued…