Navy SEAL training (aks Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, aka BUD/S) is widely considered the most difficult military training in the world. This six-month training has a 70% attrition rate. My Navy SEAL training class went from around 200 trainees to about ten after five weeks of training.
When you make it through Navy SEAL training you feel like there is nothing you can’t accomplish, which is the point. This attitude has permeated every part of my life. Never quit, never give up, find a way because there is always a way.
Then I started yoga instructor training at Vimana yoga in Basalt. More accurately, hot yoga instructor training.
I’m not exactly a lifelong yogi. I started consistently attending hot yoga classes about two years ago. My goal initially was to make it through an entire class without having to walk outside to cool off, lie down or move to “child’s pose” to rest and recover during class. After I was able to consistently achieve that goal, I started to imagine yoga as a great tool for leadership wellness, which is part of my company’s leadership program.
During each class I imagined the benefits of yoga to leadership and how I would apply it to my clients. I became convinced yoga would become an integral part of my program. It was time, I told myself, to become a certified yogi. After all, I was able to consistently make it through hot yoga classes (sort of). How hard could yoga training be? I survived Hell Week! Yoga training couldn’t be more than a check-the-box process to get certified … right?
Then I saw the schedule. Four blocks of training, each block three to four days long, each day about eight hours with two to three full yoga classes per day. In between each class there would be pose training, practice teaching, history, journaling and discussion. “This can’t be right, can it?” To say it took me some time to recover from one hot yoga class would be an understatement. If I did two days in a row of yoga I was over the moon with pride.
I started to get a little concerned. Then training started and my concerns were justified.
People often ask me if Navy SEAL training is as hard as it looks. It’s a valid question given the media coverage it has received. Was the training being sensationalized for TV’s purposes? I always try to keep a humble and respectful attitude when it comes to answering questions about my days as a Navy SEAL.
In this case, though, there is only one answer, “It’s harder than it looks on TV.” Simply put, imagine actually going through the thing that looks nearly impossible to go through.
I’m kind of starting to get that feeling about yoga certification training. When I saw the schedule I thought to myself, “Is this even safe?” Two blocks into the training I have been appropriately validated … and humbled.
Yes, the leadership and wellness principles are there in abundance and will be enthusiastically implemented into my program.
But more importantly, I have been appropriately humbled. It reminded me that being humbled is a vital component of not only leadership, but of life. It reminded me that yoga teachers here in the valley are experts at their craft and have spent countless hours mastering their craft with significant sacrifice.
Yoga instructors sacrifice themselves for their craft because they love yoga and they want to serve others. Kind of like what Navy SEALs go through, a sacrifice of self to serve others. Yoga instructor training is not something you can complete unless you wholeheartedly believe in the practice and love it, kind of like Navy SEAL training.
What’s my point? I’m supposed to be writing articles about leadership, right?
Well, as I’ve said, humility is an essential part of being a great leader. Putting one’s ego aside and recognizing excellence in others is an essential part of leadership.
So, my point is simply to remind us that excellence is all around us and to achieve excellence we must recognize excellence in others.
For us in the valley, look no further than our beloved yoga instructors.
Article published in Aspen Daily News on March 25, 2023.