Anusara Yoga with a Gun

competitive marksmanThe other weekend a friend of mine got me to go with her to a yoga workshop. Thanks, Michelle, I think. Iʼm STILL thinking. The style of yoga we practiced, Anusara, parallels something near and dear to me: marksmanship. The teacher, Bea Doyle, of Bhava Yoga Studio promptly introduced us to the themes of our time together which constituted Attitude, Alignment and Action.

Sound familiar? As I worked very hard to stretch and not hyper-extend my shoulders, I thought about Attitude. We go into competition craving to be The Best. We must Win. Soon enough, we realize we only compete against ourselves; the goal is to pay attention to the last matches’ performances and see if we can build on that experience. As I finally could propel myself into an almost floating back bend (that’s what it felt like, doing it correctly), I heard the teacher, Bea, speak of the positioning of the low back, the pinning of the shoulder blades to force the heart up and open, the planting of the feet to create a platform. I felt in awe of my own capabilities and for how this is the exact wording for how I describe the Basic Fundamentals of Marksmanship. Every body part has a job and a special alignment. If I don’t shift my weight to the balls of my feet and lift my body upwardly and nest my shoulders into their sockets while simultaneously extending my arms, I will lose my front sight alignment on the target, I will get rocked back more and more with each round’s recoil. The Action of yoga subtley announces itself in that if a practitioner poses incorrectly, something hurts. Same with shooting. For example, if I get my knuckles rubbed raw at the 50 yd line barricade, it means I stand too far away and press too much weight on the barricade. I, therefore, take action to hold my arm out aligning my stance so I graze the barricade with my fist. This is how far away to stand. The alignment is total body awareness. The attitude remains calm. When the target turns and I draw to fire, I breathe in, I breathe out, I squeeeeeeze the trigger, almost meditatively. No wonder I finally set records at the 50 yd line.

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"I worked as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer for over 14 years, in a firearms carrying capacity. First assigned to LAX (1994), then to the Los Angeles/ Long Beach Seaport (1997-2007), I took an early retirement from my final duty station of El Paso, TX (2007-2008). Never having handled firearms prior to this job, I give full credit for my initial shooting lessons and safe firearms handling skills to the government. As I began to compete, I gleaned tips and coaching lessons from the best law enforcement instructors across the nation, turning myself into one of the best, too. I was a firearms instructor in Los Angeles and a national level competitor on a formally sponsored team from 1999 through 2003, being sent all over the nation for pistol match competitions. As a result of this gift of an experience, I went on to set five national records in the law enforcement shooting sports. Check in regularly to read about those and other adventures and misadventures!"
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