The Yoga Mat in Iraq

Today I had a humbling experience: teaching my regular 7:15 am morning class to a yoga practitioner in Iraq. Jarell Jones is a Yoga Mat regular and a week or so ago he mentioned to me that he was being moved from Denver to Iraq and he was hoping to keep up his yoga practice via Skype. Today was our first class together with over 7,000 miles and 9 hours of time between us.  Of course his mat wasn’t in the front of the class where he normally liked it but the laptop strategically positioned on the back counter, gave him a view of the class that worked like a charm. So far away, removed from his life here we brought him home with a simple yoga practice. Well, not so simple — today was a pretty hard class. But it was amazing to lead him through his regular practice and watch him take Savasana with the rest of his peers just as he had before. After class, everyone was excited to ask questions; how’s the weather; where do you live; and we were excited to connect. Some days it’s a challenge to unroll your mat and move but it’s amazing what your yoga practice can do. It changes you physically, mentally and emotionally. But even outside of that it connects you to something bigger than yourself. Today it’s chilly in Denver, and high of 80 in Iraq, but in the end it’s not where we lay our mat, it’s that we laid them at all and we did it together.

Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana. You can see our class in the top left of the picture.

Jarell taking Savasana – check out his awesome setup with Lavender candles!

Jarell practicing with his 7:15am morning yoga peers back in Denver – Jarell on the counter.

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2 responses to “The Yoga Mat in Iraq

  1. What a wonderful idea. So glad both of you had the follow through to do it. FYI, there are yoga classes on some of the large FOBs in Afghanistan. Also, if you come over to our site, Yoga For Vets, you can see a small yoga room set up in a combat zone in Kunar.
    Good work! Keep up the spirit, and thank you for your follow through.

  2. Yoga Mat, you rock!!! This article goes so far beyond our mission statement, I don’t know where to start. Our organization Yoga For Vets lists studios and teachers in the United States who provide 4 or more free yoga classes to any war vets. Thanks for posting this blog entry and I want to especially want to thank Jarell for his service to our Country. Jarell, when you return to the States, I hope you continue your yoga practice and update us on how you are doing and the status of your yoga practice. Whoooo, I am so happy to read this blog entry . Jarell, I wish you a speedy return and easy breathing. Write us anytime.
    Shanti (peace),
    Paul Zipes
    Founder/Director Yoga for Vets

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