FireFlex Yoga, a data-driven wellness program designed for firefighters, announces its National Online Yoga Program specifically curated for fire departments (available now) and Train the Trainer, coming January 2021. Both initiatives expand the FireFlex mission to support first responders by mitigating injuries, increasing resiliency, and increasing wellness on- and off-duty.
Since 2014, FireFlex Yoga has delivered classes at more than 20 departments across the Bay Area, reaching thousands of firefighters. It’s the only yoga program created specifically for firefighters that gathers quantitative data before/after a series of classes using the Functional Movement Screen and the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness. Results consistently show the program’s impact on increased wellness for first responders, enhancing both their physical and mental wellness.
Founder Shannon McQuaide will deliver a Train the Trainer workshop in January 2021 at Santa Clara City Fire Training Center. Train the Trainer attendees learn how to deliver impactful FireFlex classes at their agencies; these classes mitigate injury, increase resilience, and reduce stress for first responders. Attendees receive a step-by-step manual and training in yoga and interoception to create a series of classes to benefit firefighters and increase wellness at their departments. She has delivered this training for private federal agencies and received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“After many years delivering yoga classes at fire stations, I designed this training to empower firefighters with impactful wellness tools,” said FireFlex founder, Shannon McQuaide. “And now, with the pandemic and one of the most intense fire seasons underway, first responder stress is at an all-time high. My mission is to provide tools to mitigate injury and increase wellness and resilience.”
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First responders are vulnerable to traumatic stress disorders, compassion fatigue, and maladaptive coping strategies without proactive interventions. Through FireFlex Yoga, first responders are learning how to strengthen their bodies, breath, and attention to increase resiliency. Interoceptive mind-body awareness creates stronger resilience and decision-making under pressure. To achieve this, FireFlex integrates breathing and mindfulness practices to encourage firefighters’ ability to focus on present-moment sensations.
“I highly recommend FireFlex Yoga for any fire department. It truly blends physical fitness along with mental fitness, and I think both of those correlate,” said Firefighter Luke Duncan of the Scotts Valley Fire Department.
FireFlex Yoga’s National Online Yoga Program provides streaming classes that are customized for firefighters at each department. In addition to personally curated classes, firefighters can also join additional classes created for other subscribed departments, without surcharge, on- or off-duty. Departments can contact Shannon directly for subscription information. Additionally, public streaming classes are offered Tuesdays and Fridays at 9am PDT on the MINDBODY platform.
“We are constantly on the go and in a state of hyper-awareness. It’s important that we find time to slow things down and I have learned how to do this by slowing down and regulating my breath. This is one of the many benefits I have experienced through FireFlex Yoga classes offered at our department. Now when I hear the tones go off, I take a deep breath and feel my body calming down. This helps me to think more clearly when I have to make decisions that will ultimately affect my crew and the public,” said Southern Marin Fire Protection District Captain Jason Golden.
Another way FireFlex Yoga is supporting first responders is through its Wellness Wednesday initiative. Each Wednesday at noon PDT, FireFlex founder Shannon McQuaide leads interviews with firefighters and other experts discussing obstacles and solutions in providing wellness programs at departments. Conversations are live on Instagram and saved in @fireflexyoga’s IGTV.