By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4)– The benefits to yoga include stress relief, increased muscle strength and protection from injury. Now, local law enforcement is using it as part of their training.

The Denver Sheriff Department has incorporated First Responder Yoga into academy training for recruits.

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“Hearing it I was like ‘What, why?’” laughed Dante Barron, a deputy recruit. “But it’s been good; it’s going to be important when I’m the only one in the jail pod.”

The exercise is specialized for first responders. Yoga instructors teach breathing and mental techniques to help keep the recruits focused and in control during times of extreme stress.

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“If a deputy or recruit can do that first, sometimes it will deescalate the whole situation,” explained Anthony Gettler, the captain of training academy.

What they learn on the mat, will apply on the job as well. The idea is to strengthen the mind and reduce stress in a job that can take a mental toll.

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Olivia Meads in the founder of First Responder Yoga, and teaches the concept across the country.

“I took yoga back to its traditional roots which is to train warriors,” Mead explained. “And I added language and specificity to how it relates and can be used in their job.”

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For these recruits, that means chaotic and fast-paces situations that will take place inside the jail.

“We need to train you to be able to use these motor skills and the thinking part of your brain, while your nervous system is under threat,” Mead said. “That’s what this yoga is teaching.”

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Denver Sheriff Department recruits say the yoga training has already come in handy in other training, such as staying calm while being pepper-sprayed.

This class of recruits will graduate on March 1.

Makenzie O'Keefe


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