A Marine veteran who teaches yoga at his own San Francisco studio and at prisons says the physical, mental and spiritual practices have transformed his life.
When Sean Silvera found his breath for the first time at a yoga class in Fairfax, it was a life changing experience – one that he knew he'd want to share with others.
"Oh my God, I cried," Silvera remembered. "I was like, 'Woah, here's my body. Here's what it takes to leave everything in an exercise.'"
It was quite a surprise for the Marine Corps veteran who -- at the time -- thought yoga was for hippies and definitely not for men.
"It blew my mind," he said. "I just hadn't had that kind of experience since boot camp. Difficult, transformational, and just changed how I looked at things."
Since then, Silvera has opened his own studio in San Francisco, Baptiste Power Yoga. He's eager to help others find balance.
"I mean, I still have Sgt. Silvera back there, but I can manage him better," he said.
He's also on a mission to break down a barrier that yoga isn't for men.
"The stigma has been there, and it has prevented guys from coming to yoga," Silvera said.
Guys like himself who come from intense backgrounds, who may not know it can be a life-changing practice.
"It likely saved my life, who I was in the past versus who I am now" Silvera said.
He has worked with the Prison Yoga Project, sharing the practice with incarcerated individuals, watching its power unfold.
"It's such an opportunity to heal," he said.
Silvera says in recent years, he's started to see a shift in his classes, making him believe the stigma is losing strength.
"Most of the time, we have 50-50 men and women in the class, which is very different than it was even 10-15 years ago," he said.
Clearing minds and creating community with every class, in the hopes of creating positive change.
"I wish the whole world would participate," Silvera said. "It would be a better place altogether."
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