9.5 Editor's Pick
May 22, 2019

This Yoga Sh*t is not just to Get Chicks & Look Good on Instagram.


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I don’t do it for a small piece of cloth.

I don’t do it because it makes me feel invincible. It’s not going to win me any awards and it’s not going to make me look cool on Instagram. But when I was depressed as hell, broke my back, lost a close buddy, and separated from the dudes who made me whole, it gave me a home.

I know what you’re thinking. This sh*t is for chicks. You’re not flexible, you smoke and drink, and can’t stand the smell of incense. You tote guns, throw axes, and chew. If you’re like me though, you also can’t sleep, struggle with your thoughts in a quiet room, and have run train on more medications than you can remember.

I’m not here to change your mind. I’m not going to tell you that it’s going to change your life. I’m under no illusions about the perception of the practice. Let’s get some realities out there.

If you go to a studio, there’s a decent chance you’ll be one of only a couple dudes in the room. You won’t find merch geared toward our sector of society. You’ll hear a lot of talk about compassion, energy, and presence. There’s even a decent chance you’ll hear some spa music.

In the army, I was raised that you throw hands when necessary. You don’t show up to a huddle with less than a bottle. You b*tch about the good stuff, you take pride in the bad. You shrug off death, danger, and weakness. You insufflate Motrin and keep walking.

Suffering is a rite of passage.

But the same dudes who walk like gods in the day stick guns in their mouths at night. The ones running superhuman two-milers and pressing earth faster than most of us can think still fall out of bed limping. The largest, angriest dudes still end up crying on a shoulder in a garage at 3 a.m.

What I’m saying is this—we’re not the Greatest Generation. We’re the living, breathing, bastard children of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). We’ve been rode hard and put up wet. We owe ourselves more. My practice isn’t a panacea to all that ails me. It doesn’t bring anyone back to life, but it gives me a fighting chance.

A chance to breathe. A space to let go. A moment of time each day when the second ahead means more than the one behind.

A chance for peace.



author: Phil Sussman/@liveamericanyogi

Image: Author's own

Image: Author's own

Editor: Naomi Boshari

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SussmanML Jul 3, 2019 8:58pm

This guy. Bravest of the brave, and you’d never know by talking to him.

Roslyn Shipp May 30, 2019 6:43pm

What an incredibly brave voice you have. I work in emergency dispatch and have seen the effects of PTSD on the strong, tough, impenetrable men and women who serve. Those who serve our military and those who serve as first responders at home too often suffer in silence and live in fear that any emotional processing will be seen as weakness. Thank you for pointing out you can be brave and tough – and also emotionally available and vulnerable. You are inspiring!

Vanessa Boehm May 27, 2019 10:52am

As the daughter of an Army (Infantry) veteran who also served in the Middle East, this is so meaningful! I have been trying to convince my dad to go to yoga for years to help with the physical damage and mental turmoil that being in the military left him with. I sent him this article ;). Thanks for breaking down stigmas and creating a meaningful platform! Much love!

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Phil Sussman

Phil Sussman is an active duty service member and co-founder of the yoga-inspired lifestyle and apparel brand, American Yogi. He started his practice in 2015 following a training accident on duty that nearly left him paralyzed, and through American Yogi aims to bring more unconventional types to the practice. Phil recently returned from a six-month deployment to the Middle East and will soon being his 200 HR YTT certification in Southern Pines, North Carolina. You can connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, or at his website.