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First Coast

Local Instructor Who Lost His Legs Says ‘Yoga Is For Any Body And Everybody’

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Dan Nevins
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Dan Nevins practicing yoga

International Yoga Day is June 21, and First Coast yoga and meditation instructor Dan Nevins wants people to know that yoga is for “every body.”

Nevins, an Army veteran, turned to yoga after an explosion while he was deployed in Iraq ultimately caused the loss of both his legs. Following the incident, Nevins endured 36 surgeries and the emotional battles that many veterans face, but after taking a yoga class in 2014 at the advice of a friend, his perspective changed. 

“I had a, like, a very real moment, on a yoga mat, where, you know, I had been practicing with my prosthetic legs on, and I decided to take them off. And, nobody got to see me with my legs off, so it was like a huge leap for me. It was like a huge leap for me, like a sort of shame because my legs were like, my best feature. At least that's what I thought,” he explained on Monday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

“And in that moment, I got this sense of connection to the earth that was so powerful because I had been floating above it on prosthetics but refusing to acknowledge that my body wasn't complete anymore. And then I just had this realization that my body is complete and perfect, just as it is, and that woke me up. It was like the earth was saying, ‘Dan, Where have you been for the last 10 years?’” he recalled on the show.

Nevins said his goal is to break stigmas surrounding yoga, which he truly believes is for “any body and everybody,” and introduce people to the practice. “The practice of meditation and of yoga are literally the best medicine that I can possibly prescribe to someone for their overall well being,” he said.

Nevins, who calls himself a “yoga ambassador,” believes yoga is a great way for people to let go of the “invisible wounds” they carry with them. His work is predominantly focused on veterans, as he has a partnership with the Wounded Warriors Project. However, he has taught classes in a variety of different settings, including studios, parks, military bases  —  even the White House lawn!

He said, “There's not a more powerful practice on the planet that I've discovered yet that does as much for your body, your mind and your overall well being than the practice of yoga.”

Mackenzie Guiry can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org