DLIFLC student volunteers as yoga instructor at Presidio of Monterey
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Airman 1st Class Ellie Dean, a student at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, instructs a GI Yoga class at the Price Fitness Center, Presidio of Monterey, Calif., Nov. 21. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL
DLIFLC student volunteers as yoga instructor at Presidio of Monterey
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Airman Senquavion Scott participates in a GI Yoga class at the Price Fitness Center, Presidio of Monterey, Calif., Nov. 21. (Photo Credit: Winifred Brown) VIEW ORIGINAL

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Nov. 29, 2022) – When fellow students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center discovered that Airman 1st Class Ellie Dean practiced yoga, they asked if she would give them a class.

Dean’s first thought was that she would like to take a class herself, so she checked to see if the installation’s fitness center offered any yoga classes. It didn’t. So Dean took the initiative and volunteered to start instructing a class called GI Yoga. Less than a year later, the class is a popular addition to the installation’s repertoire of free group fitness classes that promote fitness, resilience and well-being within the community.

“It’s grown into this practice of 10 to 25 people,” Dean said. “It’s teachers; it’s students; it’s different departments. It’s people here on staff from the clinic, who are stationed here and don’t have anything to do with DLI. I like that it’s become this very neutral community space.”

Most of the service members stationed at the Presidio of Monterey are students learning languages at DLIFLC, and at Dean’s Nov. 21 class, a majority of the participants were service members. As students, service members spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day, Dean said, and yoga is a good way to preserve and improve their range of motion, among other advantages.

“It just feels good,” said Dean, who is studying the Chinese language. “That’s the number one reason, because it feels good. I feel better after I do it.”

The class meets at 5 p.m. for an hour on Mondays and Thursdays at the Price Fitness Center. Nicole Dansby, the center’s manager, said she has enjoyed seeing Dean’s class grow in popularity.

“After class the patrons come out of class looking so restful, awakened and calm,” Dansby said. “Yoga offers a host of physical and mental benefits for people of all ages and skill levels, including strength, balance, pain relief, stress relief, relaxation, increased energy and more.”

Airman Senquavion Scott was one of about 15 attendees at Dean’s Nov. 21 class, and although he first heard about the class about a month and a half ago, he wishes he had attended sooner. He had tried yoga stretches a couple of times on his own, but this was the first time he had ever participated in a class.

“I felt so calm during some of those stretches,” Scott said. “You would think with how much you’re contorting your body that you would be under a lot of pressure, but you kind of feel at one with yourself when you breathe in, and everything just collects together and then it’s just like rides out in a wave. I think it’s something everyone should try at least once.”

Scott said he definitely plans on returning.

Dean said her mother was a yoga teacher when she was growing up, but she didn’t start practicing until about 2016. Although yoga is beneficial for physical fitness, she was more attracted to the philosophical and spiritual side of the practice.

“It can be very metaphorical,” Dean said. “You experience something on the mat that’s a direct parallel to something that you’re experiencing in the rest of your life. People say that the attitude that you bring to yoga is the attitude that you bring to everything, and the practice can serve as a mirror for looking into what things you’re going through.”

Dean said she welcomes all members of the community who have access to the Price Fitness Center, and beginners should not feel intimidated.

“People like to say that yoga is for every ‘body,’” Dean said. “Getting a perfect score on a PT test is definitely not a requirement for having a positive experience with yoga.”

GI Yoga will resume Jan. 9, after the holiday break. The Price Fitness Center also offers spin, Inferno Pilates and Zumba classes. To learn more about the center and everything it offers, visit https://presidio.armymwr.com/programs/pfc.