Operation: FIND YOGA MAT (Baghdad)


Location:  BAGHDAD

In recent posts, I’ve sort of alluded to the fact that I’m not currently building sand castles on the beautiful sandy beaches of Northwest Florida with my family, but instead I’m dodging roadside bombs and rubbing shoulders with terrorists in Baghdad, Iraq.  I’m sure Baghdad used to be an interesting, maybe even beautiful city at some point in ancient history, but living here now is comparable to taking up residence inside a vacuum bag.  Just my opinion, but there’s not a lot of redeeming qualities about Iraq in general.  I’m getting used to it though, and luckily don’t mind working 90 hour weeks most of the time.  That’s what attorneys do, right?

I work as the lone JAG (military attorney) in a small holding facility where detainees frequently make their first stop after capture to chat with our highly-trained interview specialists.  Needless to say, there’s absolutely nothing CNN-worthy that occurs at our facility.  It’s a very “dry” place…. that remains in operation and stands as a testament to the fact that an endless supply of murderers, extortionists, kidnappers, and corrupt politicians continue to roam the streets of Iraq.  It’s sad, but true.  I suppose it’s better than it was a few years ago.  Job-wise though, I get just enough action convoying with detainees to meet Iraqi judges to keep things exciting, but not so much action that I have to tell too many lies to my wife and mother when they ask me how my day went.

Operation:  FIND YOGA MAT

Anyhow, when I packed my bags and left home in early May, there simply wasn’t enough room for a yoga mat in my luggage.  I thought I’d be fine without it since I didn’t know what my living arrangements would be like or whether I’d have any time to unroll it and practice.  When I first got here, I started lifting weights again, which I hadn’t really done regularly since marrying my wife eight years ago.  Of course my wife loves it when I lift weights, and I wouldn’t say I don’t enjoy pumping a little iron, I mean heck, who doesn’t want a chiseled body, but honestly, I’m realizing that I’m not the same person I was eight years ago.  Weight lifting simply doesn’t carry the same physical challenge and mental solitude that I crave from running and yoga.  So now I run and practice yoga.  That’s where Operation:  FIND YOGA MAT begins.

I know I’ve heard of bases here in Baghdad that offer yoga to soldiers, but unfortunately the complex I live at doesn’t offer any yoga classes.  The first, and biggest challenge in doing yoga here so far has been figuring out where to get a mat. I had high hopes that one of the Post Exchanges would have something that would work as a mat substitute, but the best I could come up with was a thin, twin sized polyester bedspread that I thought might work if I folded it in half.  I decided to give it a whirl since it was only six bucks.  I live by myself, so I  rearranged my room to have an open space that’s perfect for doing yoga.  Unfortunately, after using the blanket a couple of times I quickly realized that doing downdog on the blanket might have been easier with roller skates on.  The blanket got especially slippery when I started working up a sweat.  That was one plan that didn’t work out.

Realizing the yoga blanket was merely a temporary fix, I talked to my wife about possibly folding up one of my mats at home and stuffing it in a box to send.  We decided it might just be easier to order a new mat so I began scouring the Internet for a cheap, lightweight yoga mat.   As I began shopping, I discovered that a limited number of sellers ship overseas, even to APO addresses.  Maybe I was just looking in the wrong places.  I was a bit discouraged until I chatted with my wife and she asked me if I’d looked at YogaAccessories.com.  I had run across it, but hadn’t looked very closely.  When I checked into the site a little bit further, I was pretty much sold when I read their mailing policy, which states:

We can ship any item to any address anywhere in the world!  At YogaAccessories.com, we are proud to support our men and women who serve in the US military by offering shipping options that include APO/FPO addresses.

That’s what I’m talking about.  How about a little love for the troops every now and then!  While they don’t sell expensive name brand mats like Manduka, Jade, or Hugger Mugger, their prices were very reasonable.  The Wal-Mart of yoga products I guess.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have my newly ordered 5mm Eco-Conscious Yoga Mat delivered in a week or so.  Operation FING YOGA MAT (Baghdad) will soon be complete.  In the meantime, I’ll keep tearing up my vinyasa flow on the slip-and-slide blanket.

Mission Accomplished! (Almost)

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