After years of abusive PT, lots of heavy weight lifting, and plenty of injuries, I turned to yoga. One of my shoulders is shot, and according to my doctor, I have the shoulder arthritis of an 80-year-old man. At one point, I reached a pretty bad low. I could barely get my left arm above my head. I went through physical therapy over and over with no results, I got shots with no results, and a surgeon told me there was nothing he could do. So I did yoga. I started a year ago and have tried a few different types of yoga. I recently stumbled across a company called American Yogi.
It Started With a T-Shirt
What drew me in was a T-shirt of what appeared to be an American soldier from the Vietnam era holding an M14 and a surfboard. It’s a t-shirt, but the design drew me in. I know Charlie Don’t Surf, but this guy clearly does. I clicked, explored, and found a little veteran-owned company exploring the usefulness of yoga.
The owner’s “about” page provides a little more context and explains how yoga became the founder’s route to recovery after an injury in 2015. His story paralleled my own in many ways. The American Yogi founder was able to recover, build strength, and get back on his feet through yoga.
Yoga eased the pain he felt in his back, just like yoga eased the pain in my shoulder. Yoga makes practitioners stronger, more flexible, and better-balanced people.
They sell lots of cool t-shirts, silkies, and headbands, stickers, and even handmade yoga mats. That’s all cool, but I’m not here to sell you on their clothing. Albeit that sweet yoga mat looks nice and I need a new one….
American Yogi – Free Stuff!
What drew me in with American Yogi was a section called online classes. This section contains a handful of free Yoga lessons suited for both beginners and more experienced yogitarians. I’m all about some free stuff and trying different yoga workouts, so I’ve been working my way through this free playlist of lessons.
Yoga gets a bad rap, and I really think everyone could benefit from a yoga program—especially those in the military who are subjecting their body to the extremes of fitness. While the military will get you in good shape, yoga will keep you there. It helps prevent injuries, stretch the muscles for better recovery and build strength in ways you can’t imagine.
With the number of injuries active duty and veterans suffer from, yoga could be a relief. I do it at least once a week, and I’ve seen the strength of my shoulders build significantly. The pain disappeared, strength returned, and I could put my arm above my head. Over the last year, I’ve gotten to the point where I can clean a 30 pound kettlebell above my head for sets of 10.
Low Impact – Big Results
American Yogi preaches yoga because it works. The free lessons they offer can give anyone a good start at implementing yoga into their daily workouts. I finished the first free online class called “Ebb and Flow,” and while it’s designed for beginners, the amount of time in down-facing dog worked my shoulders something fierce.
I left a little puddle of sweat beneath me as I transitioned from down dog to plank and back just to repeat it once more. You’ll squat, plank, push up, and more. I sweated, worked, and stretched until finally I could lay in a corpse pose and feel the breeze.
It challenged me, to say the least, but with yoga, you don’t feel dead afterward. You feel stretched and ready to take on the day. After “Ebb and Flow,” I felt like a new man. A more limber man, if you will.
I’ve been doing different yoga workouts for a year, but I’m still a beginner, and “Ebb and Flow” will live on in my circle of workouts. Yoga gets a weird rap from the tough-guy culture that permeates the military.
I’ve seen my flexibility increase, seen back pain disappear, and built a ton of core strength. At the same time, my compound lifts like bench press and deadlift have gotten significantly better after I introduced yoga into my routine. Heck, I do it on my rest days from the gym, so it doesn’t take away from my time worshipping iron.
It’s Far From ‘Easy’
The free American Yogi classes offer you a diverse new set of routines. In the coming weeks, I hope to edge my way through them. Some, like “Obliques on Fire,” scare me, but in due time all dragons can be conquered. If you are in the military, a veteran, or are thinking about joining, I couldn’t recommend yoga more. If you need a place to start, check out the classes at American Yogi.
Usually, I’m showing off something you have to buy, but today I’m showing you something for free, and you can’t beat free.