From wounded warrior to Warrior Two pose

NEW YORK -- Dan Nevins commands his yoga class with authority.

"Spark your ties. Fire them up," he tells the class. "Start to create the inner fire right now."

For Nevins, teaching yoga is much more than a job. It actually saved his life. Eleven years ago, while serving in Iraq, an IED exploded under his Army vehicle. The blast destroyed both his legs.

"I just remember having this revelation that I'm alive, I'm alive! That I better do something to keep it that way."

en092815quijano1-1.jpg
Dan Nevins does Warrior Two pose, after finding a restorative peace from yoga.
Robert Sturman

Nevins spent 18 months at Walter Reed Medical Center. With the help of the Wounded Warrior Project, he learned to climb mountains and play golf. But two years ago, while recovering from another surgery, he was bedridden and started having flashbacks.

"And those thoughts of the not-so-great experiences from combat just kept coming back. I didn't get to the point of suicide, but I finally understood in those 8 weeks at home and I knew that I needed help."

A friend suggested yoga to Nevins.

"I was like 'No. One, I'm a guy; Two, I'm an Army guy; Three, I don't own any spandex, and no.'"

en092815quijano6.jpg
Dan Nevins does wheel pose, one of the most demanding poses in yoga.
Robert Sturman

Despite his reservations, he finally relented and took the class.

"I got into this Warrior One pose. I rooted down and I felt this real surge of energy from the earth up into my body like into my soul and I shot up like 'Oh my God, I get it' like the earth was saying 'where have you been the last ten years.'"

Last year, Nevins completed yoga instructor training. Now hundreds of people come to his classes.

en092815quijano4.jpg
Nevins is now a yoga instructor teaching hundreds.
CBS News

"I felt if he can do it without legs, what's my excuse," said one student.

Nevins hopes to reach both veterans and non-veterans alike.

"Hands to forehead center and we bow and say Namaste," he says, closing another class. Students erupted in applause and cheers.

Nevins is a warrior on a mission to save others.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.