The crew of the San Diego-based Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell recently returned from a deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, bringing with them a lot of unique experiences since before the holidays. Between the initial seizure of 625 kg of cocaine on New Year’s Eve, the rescue and safe return of eight search-and-rescue case survivors, and hosting a 5- and 10-kilometer race in Costa Rica, how did the crew manage to stay so focused on its mission?
Yep, you guessed it --- yoga. When operations and sea state permit, the crew gathers on the flight deck near sunset to practice yoga. Led by Lt. j.g. Sarah Colmenero, the unit’s health promotion coordinator (and the ship’s damage control assistant), leads the classes that are tailored for all levels of experience from beginner to the more advanced practitioner.
Colmenero, a certified and registered yoga teacher, completed 200 hours of certification training on her personal time at Pacific Beach Core Power Yoga in San Diego, Calif. Her certification took her on a journey through lessons in anatomy, physiology, postures, teaching methods, and the history and terminology of yoga. Colmenero, active in yoga for more than six years, decided to get certified because, “It seemed like the next step in fulfilling my love for yoga -- being able to bring that gift to other people.”
When asked where the idea for teaching classes onboard the cutter came from, she responded, “Bringing it to the ship seemed natural because it was a great opportunity to be healthy and fit, as well as open your mind and provide an escape from the demanding world of shipboard life.”
The crew was apprehensive when first faced with the idea of doing yoga on a moving ship, but after the first few classes, it was difficult to find an empty space on the flight deck. Petty Officer 3rd Class George Alvarez, one of Boutwell’s electronics technicians, said, “I had never really done yoga before this patrol. It was definitely difficult to complete even the simplest poses but we had a great teacher and she was always able to help. I will definitely be trying to do more yoga when we get home.”
While it is challenging, “Flight deck yoga has been a great outlet for relieving everyone of the stresses of everyday underway life,” said Lt. j.g. Daniel Symansky. “There is limited time already and Sarah committed personal time and effort into this program which speaks volumes of her devotion to her shipmates.”
Colmenero plans to continue to give yoga back to the community after her return to San Diego, hoping to teach in her personal time at a local studio and to continue providing classes to her shipmates whenever she is able.