Army tests fitness benefits of yoga and meditation in basic training

| February 23, 2021

Yoga with Adriene – YouTube yoga coach

ninja sends in the news from Stars and Stripes that the Army is testing out the idea of incorporating yoga and meditation into basic training.

The Army is studying whether the warrior pose could make better warriors after putting hundreds of new recruits through daily yoga and meditation regimens in basic training.

The 10-week pilot program was designed to evaluate possible military benefits of the practices rooted in ancient eastern pacifist philosophies, as the service seeks to address declining fitness among military recruits.

Soldiers in 20 basic training platoons at Fort Jackson, S.C., practiced yoga and meditation daily to assess their effects on factors like physical performance, mental toughness, soldier discipline, injury rates, stress management and graduation rates.

“We realized there’s growing scientific evidence that mindfulness and yoga have positive effects on individual holistic health and fitness,” said Maj. Kimberley Jordan, a doctor of physical therapy and the officer overseeing the program. “The basic combat training environment … was rich in a variety of performance indicators that we could assess or analyze.”

Fort Jackson’s 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment each had 20 platoons participating, 10 as the test group and 10 as a control group, for a total of about 1,800 participants.

It’s one of the few studies on yoga in the military and one of the largest on mindfulness, Jordan said. Researchers were crunching numbers from data collected last fall and final results are expected later this year.

Early feedback suggests improved endurance on ruck marches and obstacle courses, reduced pain during recovery periods and better management of stress and homesickness, said Jordan, who’s used yoga herself for injury recovery and has included it in treatment for some of her patients.

While linked to Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the practices and poses taught were stripped of religious references. Chaplains were also consulted, she said.

Led by contracted trainers, half the trainees did yoga for 15 minutes before and after normal morning physical training exercises — poses like downward dog, plank and chair positions. They also received two hours of weekly instruction in mindfulness in the first four weeks and practiced meditation six days a week for 15 minutes before lights out, for the duration of the program.

The control group platoons used standard Army preparation and recovery drills, such as windmill stretches, bend-and-reach and pushups. Both groups and their drill sergeants took several surveys to gauge their attitudes on the program.

“I’m sorry, did you say yoga?” Pfc. Joe Skeen said in a video on his popular TikTok account last month, responding to a post by a user named @pastelsoldier who apparently participated in the study.

Skeen, who has about 735,000 followers on the app, joked that the only yoga he might’ve done in his training was the downward dog pose while being punished.

In comments on Skeen’s video, @pastelsoldier said she preferred the normal physical fitness training because it was actually easier.

Another trainee initially didn’t think yoga and the Army went together, but soon changed her mind, the Army said in a December statement.

“I started really enjoying and benefiting from the positions,” Pfc. Lina Alani said in the statement.

Mindfulness practices outside of nightly meditation, such as when standing for long periods at attention or on ruck marches, “really helped me focus on the task at hand,” she said.

More at the source.

I’ve had my arm twisted by the shrinky-types to try yoga and meditation for PTSD. Always one to at least try something once, I’ve done it. It does help. Teaching new troops some of these simple coping strategies may just cut down on issues further down the road.

Category: Army, Big Army, ninja

Comments (17)

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  1. KoB says:

    Welp, it’ll shore be “Relaxin’ Jackson” now. The new issue MREs gonna come with a choice of Black Chai or Herbal Green Tea? Or some other green, leafy substance?

    Every problem/situation you ever faced has always been mind over matter. If you don’t mind, then it don’t matter.

  2. penguinman000 says:

    Nothing wrong with giving troops new tools for their physical and mental health. The way most units train in the military is outdated and sometimes counterproductive.

    Though I’m not sure basic is a very conducive environment to learn meditation.

    “What’s wrong PVT Pyle? You can’t find Nirvana you sub-amphibian piece of grabastic maggot shit!!”

    • MustangCryppie says:

      I think the meditation is bullshit, but I’m good with the yoga. I’ve been very impressed with the strength some of these yoga folks possess.

  3. ninja says:

    Out of curiosity, what is the average age of new recruits joining the Army?

    The reason I asked is based on some insight provided by two Drill SGTS.

    Meditation and Yoga for teenage recruits?

    Am having some doubts…

    From the article:

    “And trainees who did mindfulness training showed signs of better behavior, said Sgt. 1st Class Desiree Strickland, a drill sergeant quoted in the December statement.”

    “They don’t argue,” she said. “They overall have more respect for themselves, each other and for the drill sergeants.”

    “However, some participants said they would’ve rather used the time to prepare for other activities.”

    “The trainees looked discouraged or upset because they had to sit through 15 minutes of mindfulness,” said Staff Sgt. Angela Alvarez, another drill sergeant quoted in the statement.”

    • Green Thumb says:

      “Out of curiosity, what is the average age of new recruits joining the Army?”

      Well, if its a freebie, I guess and if it also makes the Army look hip, diverse and cool to that class of “recruits” they have been ignoring all of these years.

      Example:

      At 60 years old (yo) plus, if you are a female.

      With the new standards, a 60 yo grandmother of seven will be the first woman of 60 or over to meet and overcome the new grueling Ranger School standards.

      That’s obviously after she has met, overcome and taken Basic Trainee of the Cycle, Outstanding Honor Graduate and everything in between until she achieves Ranger School Honor Graduate.

      At which point the Army will “seal” her records (to prevent harassment), co-author her book (which they hate) and let her ride profile the rest of her career (for fear of engaging in ageism and other forms of discrimination by making her serve in a real fucking IN unit command).

      To easy.

      Next?

  4. Sparks says:

    I think this is great, as long as they offer high colonics too. (Smile)

    • ChipNASA says:

      I’m sorry, you triggered my P.T.S.D., I’m sorry, I mean my M*A*S*H.

      Gen. Barker: May I make a suggestion about Major Burns?
      Henry Blake: Yes, Sir.
      Gen. Barker: Give him a high colonic and send him on a ten-mile hike.
      Capt. McIntyre: With full pack.
      Gen. Barker: Good touch.

      http://imgur.com/a/zZFHs05

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    I meditate every morning after my first cup of coffee.

  6. Ret_25X says:

    The boots don’t need yoga, meditation, herbal remedies, or even their cell phones.

    They need to be broken down emotionally and psychologically to a point where the weak and self centered thing they call a mind is ready to learn and serve.

    Then they can be made strong in the old fashioned way…hard, physical, exhausting work done to high standards, with no concern to whether they “like” it.

    It’s mind over matter…they have to learn not to mind so it won’t matter.

  7. timactual says:

    I’m for it.

    Yoga is good exercise. Builds strength, flexibility, and balance. First few times I tried it I was sore the next day, like a hard gym workout. Physical therapists prescribe some of the same exercises.

  8. rgr1480 says:

    poses like downward dog, plank and chair positions.

    1. Downward dog = Front leaning rest as done by people who’ve never been in the military (butt up).

    2. Plank position = Front Leaning Rest. ‘Nuff said; OKAY.

    3. Chair position = Isn’t that what we had to do in SERE in lieu of a light beating? Kind of a stress postion? Heck, I forgot …. I did SERE about 47 years ago.

  9. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    So, stretching and prayer.

    This is -new-?

    (Grin)