What The Navy SEALs Can Teach You About Yoga

Strong Man Practicing Yoga bend over grabbing toes

The Navy SEALs practice yoga in a very specific way to create balance across their physical, mental, and emotional abilities. So should you.

While the Navy SEALs are some of the toughest, strongest, most resilient people on earth, Clair Diab, a former military yoga instructor notes “they often need more flexibility and balance.” Due to the high-stress nature of their job, a lot of SEALs constantly battle anxiety, poor sleep, and potentially, PTSD.

Recently, the SEALs incorporated yoga into their training. But not just any yoga—they introduced a highly specialized practice with specific means to a specific end. They found that sensory-enhanced yoga not only improves flexibility, posture, and balance, but reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and helps the SEALs feel calmer. Their practice includes a unique combination of physical yoga (Hatha), breathing techniques (Pranayama), meditation, and relaxation. Additionally, they brought breathing, meditation, and visualization into combat-conditioning exercises to improve mental balance, focus, and control in all circumstances. Combining the physical prowess of a Navy SEAL with the mental clarity of a monk is a strong recipe for success. But it’s not just any yoga that drives these results. It’s a specific practice or combination of practices that led to their success, and the same should be true for you.

Yoga Roots

Think of yoga as a tree. Its roots go back to India some 3,000 years ago when meditating monks noticed how stiff they were getting from sitting for long hours each day (sound familiar?). Observing how flexible the wild and even domestic animals were around them they started incorporating animal-like stretching. Hatha, or physical yoga, was born and became the first root of the tree. Over time, Raja yoga was developed with more of a focus on meditation. Bhakti yoga rested in the emotional and devotional sphere. Jnana yoga anchored in the scriptures and wisdom path. Karma yoga rooted with an emphasis on selfless service, and Tantra brings an esoteric and ritual approach to meeting the Divine in all aspects of life. These forms of yoga became the other roots of the tree.

Evolution of yoga

Over centuries Hatha yoga has evolved. Hatha now incorporates a lot of other, less physical, forms and techniques. For example, Shavasana pose, where you lay on your back and attempt to find complete stillness in mind and body, was not originally part of Hatha yoga. Today, this pose is included at the end of almost every yoga class. In the 1950s, Hatha yoga was brought to the west, and it’s evolution accelerated. Over the past 70 years, Hatha has morphed into almost as many versions as there are types of fruits.

This evolution provides you an opportunity to do exactly what the Navy SEALs have done, and find or create a unique practice. Discover a practice that will not only benefit your specific body, but also your specific mind, heart, and soul. Perhaps that is found at one studio, or you find a combination of two or even three practices that help you strike a balance and take your health to the next level. The teacher will be a key component of your safety, enjoyment, and health benefits. So, don’t be afraid to try a few different classes to find a yogic style, and instructor, that is right for you.

Explore the many varieties of yoga

Listed below are a few class types to consider as you build a practice that creates balance in your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health:

  • Iyengar: fundamental beginners focus on holding and exploring the alignment and basic structures of the poses (asanas), gaining flexibility, balance, natural posture, and inner and physical strength
  • Vinyasa: links asanas together with the breath into a gentle flow
  • Ashtanga: adds a more athletic approach to the Vinyasa flow
  • Bikram: a 105 degree heated room warms the muscles and adds sweating as a detox benefit to the mental and physical stamina gained from holding the same 26 poses each class
  • Forrest: one of many ‘hot’ yogas but adds emotional exploration to the physical challenge
  • Ishta: a flow sequence with added meditation, breathwork, and Ayurvedic cleansing techniques
  • Jivamukti: a physically rigorous and intellectually stimulating focus with chanting, breathwork, and spiritual alignment to ‘non-harming’, supporting veganism and animal rights
  • Kundalini: a rigorous collection of asanas, meditations, and intense breathwork designed to awaken ones psychoenergetic force (Kundalini) for spiritual elevation

So, while your local yoga gym may be full of lululemon-laden warriors pumping through a yoga class just to tone and tighten, remember there is a vast world of yoga out there waiting for you. A world that will lead to balanced health across your mind, body, and spirit. Take a step into the unknown and enjoy your exploration.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia and featuring daily sunrise yoga and night-time restorative yoga, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Yoga For Weight Loss

Yoga Instructor Sage Leboutan

One of the best features of the Mountain Trek Lodge in British Columbia is the beautiful, large yoga studio with a wall of windows that look out over Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountain range. It’s easy to spend time in that room yet many guests ask us why it is we do gentle yoga every morning before we head out hiking for the day.

3 Reasons Why Yoga Benefits Health

  1. Yoga limbers up our bodies and gets them ready for a day’s worth of outdoor activity.
  2. When combined with intentional breathing, yoga helps to calm the mind and allows you to start the day with intention: it’s easy to put your work and home cares aside and just concentrate on you.
  3. And finally, we do yoga for weight loss.

Yes, that last one’s correct. Yoga actually helps with your weight loss program. This may surprise many people because yoga is such a gentle, slow, methodical experience and it’s not as obvious a fat flush activity as Cathy’s evening cardio fitness regime. Yet yoga for weight loss is a key component of the Mountain Trek program because it’s integral to moving your body and boosting your metabolism.

Who does yoga?

Yoga For Weight Loss – How Does It Work?

Metabolism is the rate at which your body uses energy and burns calories. You can learn more about it in our blog post about metabolism but, in short, it describes the process of serving our body’s energy needs – if we’re expending a lot of energy (high metabolism) then we’re burning up the calories we’re consuming. And, in the case of Mountain Trek’s program, we’re rebooting the body’s metabolism and not only burning calories consumed each day, but also energy stored in our fat cells.

In other words, by waking up and doing a 45-minute gentle yoga session, we’re getting our bodies to move immediately and boosting our metabolism so that we start burning calories. We then maintain that movement throughout the day so that by the end of your stay at Mountain Trek, your metabolism is functioning at a higher level and you’re burning more calories on a daily basis.

To tell us more about yoga for weight loss and, specifically about Mountain Trek’s yoga program, we spoke with Sage Leboutan who is our resident kinesiologist as well as a yoga instructor and guide. She grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia (where Mountain Trek’s lodge resides) and, in between getting her Degree of Kinesiology from UBC in Vancouver, she taught yoga in Central and South America.

Mountain Trek Yoga Instructor Sage

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Sage. How long have you been doing yoga and why did you get into it?

I have been practicing yoga for 8 years, originally I started in my first year of university for stress and weight management. It was my 1.5 hours / day I used to unwind and connect to myself.

Is yoga for everyone?

Can anyone do yoga?

Yes, definitely anyone can do yoga regardless of shape, size or experience level. What’s most important is an open mind and willingness to try.

Nowadays there are so many different styles of yoga to choose from; including chair yoga which is suitable for people with reduced mobility or suffering from injury.

Yoga at the Mountain Trek Lodge in British Columbia

What type of yoga is offered at Mountain Trek?

At Mountain Trek we offer ‘Hatha’ yoga. The sequence is designed to specifically target sore, tight muscles from all the hiking we do every day. It begins with gentle stretches lying or sitting on the mat and gradually builds. Guests find themselves in standing positions partway through the class and then it finishes with a cool down gentle stretch and a “savasana” – lying on your back, breathing deeply and letting all your muscles relax.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

6 Types of Yoga – Which One’s Perfect for You?

Which type of yoga is right for you?

There are many branches of the yoga tree, and the branch focused on movement also has many variations. We include yoga classes at Mountain Trek to help keep bodies stretched, relaxed, and ready for the day and good sleep. To help you decide which type of yoga is perfect for you, we’ve put together this list of six different kinds along with insider tips that further explain each.


Ideal for: Beginners

What it is: Hatha refers to any yoga practice that combines breathing techniques with poses. With each class, your goal is to develop balance and flexibility and to continue breathing with every pose and movement, so it tends to be very relaxing and restorative. Many guests at Mountain Trek love the last few series of poses during the morning session, which involves lying on the floor in a relaxed position called “shavasana” for 5 minutes.

Related Article: What the Navy SEALS Can Teach Us About Yoga

Insider Tip: At Mountain Trek we tend to concentrate on slower movements between poses. However, other instructors might move (or “flow”) at faster rates. Be sure to check with them in advance to ensure you’re comfortable with the speed.

Iyengar Yoga


Ideal for: Those suffering from neck or back problems

What it is: Iyengar is a style of yoga that emphasizes proper alignment and the strengthening of joints and muscles. Props are often used such as straps and blocks to help you get into poses. Participants will stand, sit, and twist and if the injury isn’t too limiting, poses might also include backbends.

Insider Tip: According to the Clinical Journal of Pain this style of yoga helps improve chronic neck pain.

Vinyasa yoga


Ideal for: Weight loss

What it is: This style of yoga tends to be fairly fast-paced and is occasionally called “power yoga.” With each class you’re expected to move continuously throughout the class doing a series of lunging, bending, and stretching poses. (The most famous sequences of moves is called the sun salutation.) In more advanced classes you can expect to do headstands or shoulder stands, in which the feet are raised above the head. However, we typically avoid these positions at Mountain Trek, preferring instead the more gentle movements of Hatha.

Insider Tip: Of all the different types of yoga, Vinyasa is the best for weight loss as practitioners can burn up to seven calories a minute.

Bikram Yoga


Ideal for: Building flexibility (and detoxing via sweat)

What it is: This style is often referred as “hot yoga” because studios are typically heated to 40°C (105°F) with a 40 percent humidity level. Each class includes various rapid breathing exercises as well as a series of 26 poses.

Insider Tip: Don’t forget your water bottle and towel! And it’s best not to eat 2 hours before a class so as to avoid nausea.

Khudalini Yoga


Ideal for: A more spiritual experience

What it is: The average session of this form of yoga is made up of exercise, breath work, meditation, and relaxation. The goal is to release the energy that devotees believe is stored at the base of the spine and by doing so, you calm the mind and energize the body.

Insider Tip: This style can be considered a bit out there so if you’re not keen chanting, perhaps try another discipline.

Ashtanga Yoga


Ideal for: Seasoned yoga practitioners

What it is: This style of yoga is one of the most physically challenging. Practitioners can execute up to 70 poses in one session including upwards of 10 sun salutations, inversions and backbends.

Insider Tip: This style of yoga is excellent for developing strength and endurance but it’s also for veterans who are comfortable with many of the more difficult poses.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below: