A double amputee Iraq war veteran who beat his demons by practicing yoga, credits the sport and art form for turning his life around.
Now-retired Army staff sergeant Dan Nevins, 46, had his legs blasted off in an explosion while he was serving a tour in Iraq in 2004, The Washington Post reported Friday. He endured 36 surgeries, had both legs amputated, and spent nearly two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Post reported.
A divorce from his wife exasperated his already spiraling-out-of-control battle to accept what had occurred.
“I was chasing Benadryl with whiskey, hoping I wouldn’t wake up,” Nevins said, the Post reported. “I was spiraling downhill fast.”
Realizing he needed help, Nevins contacted a friend, Anna Dennis, who told him he needed to add yoga to his daily routine. Nevins, a Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida resident, initially scoffed at the suggestion before deciding to adhere to her advice. It was 2014, ten years after he lost his legs.
Following what began as a frustrating and difficult exercise, yoga eventually became Nevins’ saving grace. “I raised my arms, and it felt as though life was shooting out of my hands,” he said, according to the Post. “Tears were streaming down my face.”
Nevins now travels around the world as an international yoga instructor, seeking to bring peace, calm and strength to those who have suffered on or off the battlefield, the Post reported. Nevins teaches roughly a dozen classes every month and considers himself a “yoga ambassador.”
He is also an advocate for the Wounded Warrior Project, according to the Post.
Military veteran Scott Almhjell said attending a yoga session with Nevins saved his life. “He reminded us that we are warriors, and what that really means,” formerly suicidal Almhjell said, according to the Post. “It might sound stupid and hokey, but Dan gave me my life back.”
“The fact is, all of us are living with the invisible wounds of some kind of war,” Nevins said, according to the Post. “Yoga helps you to let go of the things that don’t serve you anymore.”
Nevins is a single father of three. He credits yoga with his newfound vigor to live. “On most days, I forget that I’m an amputee. Because of yoga, it’s not even a thing. Life goes on. I’m grateful for every breath.”
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