Beginner Sequence Videos This Healing Sequence Designed for First Responders Can Help...

This Healing Sequence Designed for First Responders Can Help Us All Navigate Life’s Challenges


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Eric Brenneman is a yoga teacher and retired firefighter who now serves as CFO of Yoga for First Responders. 

Eric Brenneman is a yoga teacher and retired firefighter who now serves as CFO of Yoga for First Responders. 

It was our first date, on a New York City spring afternoon, at an al fresco dining table perched high above Second Avenue, when I saw Brian’s jaw go slack, his handsome firefighter’s profile tightening as he scanned the crowded bar scene. “Crystal, the first thing I want you to do any time you’re in a crowded place is find the spot where you can exit easiest—not the emergency exit,” he told me.

He wore an inexplicable look of concern on his face as he pointed out a corner of the balcony (not the fire escape) that I never would have noticed. From that terrace, he said, we could access the scaffolding of the building next door and climb down to the sidewalk.

As our relationship progressed, I realized Brian’s experiences as a firefighter and 9/11 first responder were responsible for much of his personal turmoil—his tendency to startle at loud noises; his susceptibility to spin into sudden, deep rages; and the challenges around being forced into retirement at age 37. My connection with him, our eventual split, and the friendships I forged with other first responders helped me understand just how much people in this profession can benefit from the calm and focus of a yoga practice.

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