JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
A soothing voice leads a group of yogis through various stretches within a cool, eucalyptus-scented room.
Le Nguyen, West Fitness Center yoga instructor, walks between colorful mats demonstrating poses and helping students with their form.
“I have dabbled in yoga for about eight years,” Nguyen said. “I started getting serious with it during the last few years after I enrolled in a six-month yoga teacher training program at a local yoga studio to learn how to ease and prevent my own pain.”
In October 2015, she started volunteering as a yoga instructor at the Joint Base Andrews gym.
“Once I realized how life-changing this knowledge could be, all I wanted to do was share yoga movement and meditation with other people,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen holds an hour-long yoga class every week for yogis of all experience levels and focuses on the study of Iyengar Yoga, which emphasizes detailed posture performance and breath control.
“I have witnessed the transformation of my yoga students,” Nguyen said. “As they continue to grow in their practice, the only way I can describe my feeling of awe is to liken it to the sense of being part of something bigger and much more important than oneself.”
She is a retired colonel with 21 years under her belt as an Air Force judge advocate, so Nguyen is familiar with the military lifestyle and the many stressors that can come with it.
“The mental and physical health benefits of yoga are monumental to military members,” Nguyen said. “It’s a great physical activity that builds flexibility and strength. The meditation helps people work on their focus and mental toughness.”
According to her, teaching military members is one of the best parts of instructing at JBA.
John Subick, 744th Communications Squadron cyber transportation floor technician, has been attending the class since November 2016.
“Nguyen is very knowledgeable in her field and really helps me push my limits in yoga,” Subick said. “I like that she focuses on the overall class and on students individually. This class helps me balance strength and flexibility, and prevent future injuries, which is great in the long run. I would definitely recommend her class to others.”
Nguyen’s class is the first yoga course Subick has attended. He initially attended to improve his knee mobility and, since starting has accomplished both that and a stronger focus.
These personal improvements are what Nguyen strives to instill in others.
“I want my students to become a happier, healthier version of themselves,” Nguyen said. “Providing this class helps me achieve this.”
If you’re interested is observing the benefits of yoga firsthand, come out to the WFC every Thursday at 5 p.m. to learn from Nguyen herself.