YOGA FOR FIRST RE­SPON­DERS

OLIVIA KVITNE, FOUNDER

Yoga Journal - - 2018 GOOD KARMA AWARDS -

Olivia Kvitne, whose back­ground in­volves yoga for vet­er­ans and ac­tive mil­i­tary per­son­nel, founded Yoga for First Re­spon­ders (YFFR) in 2013 to bring trau­masen­si­tive yoga and re­siliency train­ing to mem­bers of the Los An­ge­les Fire and Po­lice De­part­ments. From there, her ef­forts have ex­panded to in­clude a wide range of classes and train­ings for emer­gency per­son­nel of all types.

Q & A

YOGA JOUR­NAL: Why did you de­cide to fo­cus on first re­spon­ders?

OLIVIA KVITNE: First re­spon­ders see more trauma, loss, death, and de­struc­tion in one day—one shift—than you or I might see in our en­tire lives. The ner­vous sys­tem isn’t built for tak­ing that much of a beat­ing, and yoga is a ben­e­fi­cial tool for reg­u­lat­ing it.

YJ: How do you cus­tom­ize your teach­ing for fire­fight­ers and po­lice of­fi­cers?

OK: The yoga we’re do­ing is tra­di­tional hatha yoga, but we’re brand­ing it a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. What we call “tac­ti­cal breath­work” is re­ally pranayama, but we change the lan­guage. It’s noth­ing against San­skrit; I love the San­skrit lan­guage. But the ques­tion is: What’s go­ing be more ben­e­fi­cial and get more peo­ple on board?

YJ: How did you pre­pare for work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion?

OK: When I was de­vel­op­ing this pro­gram, I did po­lice ride-alongs and went through po­lice academy train­ing. I at­tended a fire academy, too, which in­volved do­ing live burns and fight­ing fire. I wanted to get as close as I could so I could feel what this pop­u­la­tion feels ev­ery day and un­der­stand what they need.

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