February 13, 2013

A Military Wife Goes to Yoga. ~ Kanani Fong

Photo: Kanani Wong. An FST yoga space in Afghanistan.

The other night, Charlie Samos—a yoga teacher whose work can be found online at YogisAnonymous, asked his yoga friends over on Facebook to complete this sentence:

I go to yoga because…

Most of the responses were about feeling better in a world that is hectic and high pressure. They were heartfelt and true.

But all I could think of was getting in my car, driving to the studio, taking my yoga mat out of the trunk and going to class. In many countries, this wouldn’t be possible for any number of reasons. I’m just grateful to have the freedom to be able to go to yoga whenever I want.

I also thought about the time my husband set up a yoga room at the Forward Surgical Team hooch in Afghanistan. Bare plywood walls and floors, a chair shoved into a corner—it was a raw, dusty, small space. I’d been able to send one mat, and the team found a few others at the FOB.

I had sent them a Rodney Yee DVD, and the Special Forces guys were always borrowing it.

I thought about mortar attacks, small arms fire, and MASCALs. But there were good things too—like the Special Forces guys and the corpsmen going into the hills with pockets full of finger puppets I’d sent to give to children, or the high number of children whose lives were saved by the team of physicians, nurses, techs, and medics.

Thoughts of war are often conflicting, and they run through the minds of those who wait at home. We don’t tell civilians because the responses can range from those who might see us as a tragedy in the making, or others who give us an anti-war lecture. And so we go through our day-to-day lives: waiting for word, carrying on, sometimes hitting full stride, other times feeling like we’re hanging on by a gossamer thread.

So why I go to yoga isn’t really about me at all.

I go because many people have made it possible for me to keep doing so. I do it so ultimately, I will be of service to others. For me, those are the most important reasons.


Kanani Fong is a writer, film outreach specialist, and an Army wife. She is one of the co-founders of WarRetreat.Org, a veteran-centric yoga blog for everyone coming home from war.



Assistant Ed. Caroline Scherer


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