First responders are doing yoga to combat stress and improve their performance in the field— and Olivia Kvitne is teaching them.
Kvitne is known as the “Lois Lane of Yoga.” She began teaching yoga to first responders after working with veterans who have PTSD.
“When I’m teaching in yoga class about trigger discipline and how to stay calm under stress and how to stay calm and in control and at peak performance level when someone’s spitting in your face and called you names; when I’m talking about how to be completely blinded by smoke and being able to use your fine motor skills while wearing bunker gear, they relate to that, they get it,” she stated. “And they wanna be they want every tool they can to be the best that they can be.”
Kvitne started the nonprofit Yoga For First Responders and began working with fire and police departments across the country. She says she spent a lot of time fine-tuning teaching method and tailoring it to fit different groups for first responders— she even went to various first responder academies herself. She says first responders are taught self-regulation, rather than relaxation.
“Relaxation has this connotation of putting your feet up on the couch and drinking wine,” she said. “We train people how to regulate their nervous system. Meaning how to be with stress and activation ‘cause that’s necessary for their job and then how to regulate and recover afterwards.”