GMD: Yoga Rescue, the cop who does yoga

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DELMARVA – A former Ocean City police officer who spent over 20 years in law enforcement. However, after a career-ending injury, and struggle with mental health, he found a more flexible way to not only help himself but other first responders too. Vance Row, an officer turned yoga teacher is open about his struggles with mental health following his years in law enforcement. However,  they are years he says he doesn’t regret, and it’s all thanks to yoga. “The yoga thing kind of happened almost by accident, but a very pleasant accident we’ll say,” says Row. “You know I’m not going to fit in, I’m not going to be able to do it and one day I just decided to try. Life changing is the way I can put it.”

Row tells us, his life was spiraling out of control after a career-ending injury, and he eventually developed alcoholism. “I lost myself for a while, I don’t do anything a little bit.” Row adds, “You just kind of lose identity, I just became this guy with a badge.”
Row’s wife was a voice of reason, telling him something had to change. So while he worked to stay clean, he found an interest in yoga during his rehab for his injury. “It’s within the first couple days I start doing yoga, I started seeing changes in me.” Row adds, “I’m just short of three years without having a drink.”
Yoga was an interest he says not only saved his life but had the potential to save those just like him, first responders; those who live in a whirlwind of constant stress. “Every time somebody contacts you, every time your radio goes off and every time you have to go somewhere, somebody is having the worst day of their life,” says Row. “They’ve been taught for a very long time that they’re supposed to suck it up and whatever it is, push it down and it’ll go away, it doesn’t.”
Row says that the constant pain many first responders grapple with has led to some taking their own lives. Which is something he tells us has to change. “People like me that are maybe drugs, alcohol, maybe they’re still struggling and they’re looking for something.” Row adds, “Suicide is the worst risk than a line of duty death. So we are more dangerous to ourselves than the public is.”
Rows’ growing interest in yoga and what it did for him inspired him to create Yoga Rescue. “I decided that I wanted to specifically teach police officers, firefighters, military, people that live in these high-stress environments as a way for stress reduction, trying to get their mind right.
Yoga Rescue is a health and wellness organization that primarily focuses on mental health among first responders and the use of yoga to help those struggling. “That’s one thing I like about that yoga teacher you, it turns you inside, and it kind of gets you out of your head and back into your body.” Row adds, “What the balance does, it starts to settle everything around me, I am a far calmer person now than I was a couple of years ago.”
Now years later, and with multiple yoga-related awards, Row is ‘stretching’ his way into the lives and hearts of first responders so they too can find peace of mind and a new outlook on life. “Slowly but surely, I’m starting to change some minds,” he says, “I think it’s a lot about supporting one another, and that’s what we’re trying to build here, and yoga is a small component of that.”
What may seem like difficult stretches, poses, and a bunch of deep breaths, Row says it’s more important to find happiness with yourself, no matter what you do.  “If I can make it simple terms as myself, it’s finding that deep sense of calm and tranquility deep inside yourself. It’s there, it just might be lost right now,” says Row.
Row teaches classes at Soul Yoga Salisbury, and if anyone wants to learn more about his story, or you’re a first responder wanting to get involved, you can visit his Facebook page.
Categories: Delaware, Good Morning Delmarva, Health, Maryland, Top Stories