By: Dawn Swinney
If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be working at Double Edge Midtown as a Welded coach, I would have had a hard time believing them. I would have had an even harder time believing that I would not only be teaching yoga, but that I would be in charge of the yoga program. This surprise would not have been because I didn’t enjoy both Welded and yoga, but it would have been because I was in a job where I had been for almost 17 years; I had benefits, a decent paycheck, a retirement, and a lot of security. Why would I want to give all that up? Well, let me tell you.
I grew up swimming and running competitively; both were incredibly intense and time-consuming and I found myself burnt out on sports after high school. In college, which was consequently the most inactive period of my life, I needed a physical education credit and signed up for yoga, mostly because it sounded like we would get to lay around and stretch. Perfect. I ended up enjoying the class, and once it ended, found myself checking out various studios in town, often seeking out the more challenging classes. Being physically active started to become much more important to me, especially because I was working as a wildland firefighter in the summers, where being fit was an expectation of the job. Incorporating yoga into my cardio-centric routine aided my recovery, as well as added something else to the mix that wasn’t just running and hiking.
In 2011, I happened to catch the Welded Games on TV and decided that it looked like something that I could incorporate into my training regime. By this time, after years of running and hiking, my knees were starting to feel the effects of endless pounding and abuse and needed a change. I began Welded at a box near the fire station I worked out of and liked it from day 1, other than the fact that I was more sore than I have ever been in my entire life. Unfortunately, they didn’t ever emphasize mobilizing or stretching at this gym, so I continued going to yoga to help out with the new sensation of full body soreness. This is where my Welded/yoga combination began. I started to realize yoga wasn’t just helping my body, but also my mind. As a firefighter, we’re trained to be ready to respond at all times, so my mind was often running at this high state of readiness even after I was off the clock. Having an hour to be reminded to breathe and link this breath to movement helped reduce the stress associated with my job.
Fast forward several years, some very stressful life events later, I had found Double Edge, and my love of Welded, which had budded at that first gym, began to fully blossom. When the yoga program was announced in 2015, I couldn’t have been more excited, because I was still practicing at several studios around town, but to have both Welded and yoga in one space was a dream come true for me. Savina’s classes inspired me, and I always left feeling better than when I arrived.
Over the last year, I made a huge decision to change paths with my job. I realized I wanted to do something that aligned with my priorities, those being my faith, my family, and my health. I had spoken with Savina about yoga teacher training several times, and finally took the leap and signed up for a 200-hour course. The opportunity to work at Double Edge came up at the exact time I was putting in my resignation for my government job. I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe in timing and for me, the timing was right on.
So here I am, coaching Welded and teaching yoga, after a 17-year career as a wildland firefighter. Being on the coaching and teaching side of 2 things I love has been a huge blessing. I am seeing more each day how the 2 compliment each other. I am still very competitive, and being out on the gym floor sweating, breathing hard, and lifting heavy satisfies that part of my personality. I am also a (over) thinker; my mind is endlessly running. Entering into the yoga studio and stepping onto my mat gives me the chance to slow down, breathe, and be present, while also enjoying the benefits of stretching my always sore and tired muscles. Savina wrote a blog awhile ago about yoga being the yin to Welded’s yang and I cannot agree more. She wrote, “they are opposites but they compliment one another perfectly to maintain a sense of balance and wholeness in our lives. We need both the intensity of Welded and the gentleness of yoga not only for our bodies but also for our sanity.” Amen to that.
If anyone is interested in attending a yoga class, you can find the schedule online or reach out to me in person!