If you go
What: Connected Warrior Yoga
Where: Jensen Family Health and Fitness Center, S. Division Street at Liggett Avenue, Lewis Main
When: Tuesdays at 6:45 a.m.
Sixteen sets of ankles crossed as service members brought their knees to their chests and lifted their butts off the ground.
“Lift; now set it down; one more time,” said yoga instructor Jason McKeogh, as he led his class of 14 service members through a series of relaxing, yet strenuous poses.
The class, a Connected Warrior Yoga course, is a one-hour per week training session available to service members, families and veterans Tuesdays at 6:45 a.m. at Jensen Health and Fitness Center on Lewis Main. There’s still space in the class, so anyone wanting to join can just show up, McKeogh said.
There were several new members at the class Tuesday, including Maj. Timothy Koerschgen, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps. Koerschgen came to the class with a few members of his battalion who decided together to use the skills in the class to reduce stress during designated physical training time.
“I definitely feel more relaxed,” Koerschgen said at the end of the class time.
He said he felt ready to take on a day of meetings; although, the class helped him forget what came next in his day. McKeogh said that’s the purpose of the class — to help service members release stress and push forward through what might otherwise clutter their thinking.
“Yoga allows you to be present and focus,” he said.
McKeogh is originally from Knoxville, Tenn., and said he has been teaching yoga for about one year. He started taking a Connected Warrior Yoga class five years ago while stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
“I started taking yoga to be stronger and more flexible,” he said. “Then I discovered the mental benefits.”
McKeogh’s instructor encouraged him to use his enthusiasm for the course and become a yoga instructor. Two hundred hours of training later, he was a Connected Warrior certified yoga instructor.
McKeogh said he began teaching the class with his own unit, 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and in the past few months decided to expand and offer the program to more service members and their families, as well as veterans and anyone with base access.
“One more breath — center as you go to the right,” he said. “Let those legs fall to the side, wherever they go. This is no judgment yoga. We’re not going to judge where they fall. Now lay out all the stress of the day; let it go.
“Feel your ankles; let that go. Feel your calves and your thighs; let that go ....”
McKeogh gently sat down in front of the group of relaxed service members. He sipped from his water bottle as the class members lay, eyes closed and limbs stretched out.
Soothing music played — the only sound in the near-silent room for what seemed like a nap time.
“Now wiggle your fingers; wiggle your toes,” McKeogh said. “Wake the body up. Knees up to the body; roll side to side. When you’re ready, bring your body up to a seated position.”
As the service members rose and rolled up their yoga mats, Army veteran Steve Wolfgram said he was glad he gave the class a shot about a month ago.
“A friend told me about the class, and it’s been great,” he said.
Yoga has helped with flexibility and also sleep, he said.
“I feel better, and I can go to sleep in a flash,” he said. “I use breathing techniques I learned in yoga, and it helps push out all the stuff that would keep me awake at night before. This is a good class.”