Olivia Mead is the founder and CEO of Yoga For First Responders and is on a mission to support academy, in-service, and retired public service professionals. Olivia and team developed and offer a unique teaching protocol for first responders based on traditional Hatha combined with Trauma-Informed Yoga. With an intimate understanding of the stress of the job calling, Yoga For First Responders (YFFR) teaches resilience.

YFFR requires no experience to bring critical incident stress management and peer support to your division of public or private service. Organized as a 501(c)(3), Olivia and team can gear to fit any individual or organizational needs, scaling the program to any size department. With the upcoming March 2020 launch of YFFR’s Cyber Academy, the material and lessons will become accessible to everyone, everywhere.


Olivia is a life-long yoga practitioner and has been teaching yoga since 2003 having studied with many master teachers around the country as well as in Rishikesh, India. Her education for teaching segments of the population that are at-risk for Post Traumatic Stress and Vicarious Traumatization began by becoming certified in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga under Yoga Warriors International.

She started working with veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and active military specifically before bringing this work to first responders.

While living in Los Angeles, Olivia adapted her offering of yoga to veterans to fit the first responder population by working directly with the Los Angeles Fire Department and department psychologist, Dr. Robert Scott. From there she taught weekly yoga classes at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Training Center, as well as presenting training on yoga and the neurological system for LAFD’s Peer Support Team, and special workshops for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). She continues to work with LAPD’s Behavioral Sciences Services by partnering for special training events including The Smart Detective for International Association of Chiefs of Police.


  • Yoga’s kinship with martial arts
  • How stress is uniquely released by movement
  • One yoga practice that’s your daily minimum
  • What if I’m not flexible enough?
  • Intraday spot drills

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Olivia [00:00:00] Here's the problem. There is a missing skill set in public safety training and that missing skill set is what's leading to burn out post-traumatic stress substance abuse physical based stress problems Sleep Disorders. I can go on we're here suicide.

Michael [00:00:36] Hey guys, what's going on? I'm Michael Bullock. And I'm the host and founder of the man of Mastery podcast whether you're joining us for the first time or you've been here for a while. I want to welcome you and I want to thank you for being here. It truly means a ton to me. I know your time is valuable. I appreciate it. And I appreciate you so a little bit about this show. This is the show where we are putting together purpose and passion in action where we Embrace getting out of our comfort zones to grow standing ready to learn.

Michael [00:01:06] And to lead this is your resource to discover and learn from others their Mastery journey and apply it to your own. We're here to align happiness fulfillment Health Wellness productivity and peace. And as I often like to comment on why this show is called man of Mastery. It's about self Mastery in service service to others and that concept itself provide a great alignment and intercession really to this week's guest and her mission.

Michael [00:01:36] And Olivia Mead is the founder and CEO of yoga for First Responders. It's a yoga program geared for anybody in public safety anybody in service to their Community. It's a group of public servants who deal with I don't know extreme constant stress, right Sleep Disorders shift work shift work is being classified as a carcinogen and sleep deprivation literally shortens lives.

Michael [00:02:04] Also suicide is a Again issue in that community. So as Olivia says she's not wired for that service, but she's formed a mission to support those who are so in this episode. We talk about Mastery of service and a couple things I learned as someone who scratched the surface of yoga but knows very little beyond that.

Michael [00:02:27] It's not about necessarily improving flexibility and that may not even be a valid metric or benefit. It's not about the big muscle groups. So as much as it is about the stabilizing muscles and the connective tissue and that's the place where stress builds up it lodges and you have to find ways to move those areas to break free and flush that stress out.

Michael [00:02:55] The really interesting thing about yoga and why it does what it does is something we're going to talk about in this episode. I'm a Believer in the practice just from my own personal experience and I really value the chance to get to learn from Olivia. I'm excited to share with you. So with that said, let's just get after it with Olivia Meade of yff are Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Olivia Mead of yoga for First Responders Olivia.

Michael [00:03:23] Thanks for joining me.

Olivia [00:03:24] Thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk with you.

Michael [00:03:27] I'm very very excited to talk to you and and and learn from you. I am just getting familiar with yoga at beyond the the first layer of the onion I think so to speak and I've had a few Worlds Collide if you will, I think learning for myself or through my own practice some of the physical benefits of yoga.

Michael [00:03:48] I've also been working with someone who I think we both know a little bit in common Kathryn Devine on breathing and breath work which I found to be super beneficial and I talked about a lot but learning that they had as a component really of the bigger picture of yoga Beyond maybe what we commonly understand the Western World and and then, you know your focus First Responders.

Michael [00:04:11] I recently had the honor and the privilege of a 24-hour ride along with a local fire department and got to see Tao incredibly demanding and stressful that that job in that schedule can be for the men and women who serve our communities in that way. So I'm really looking forward to hearing about what you do and how it benefits that Community but I don't maybe we just start before we get into literally what you do and how you do it and how it helps maybe to start with kind of the problem statement.

Michael [00:04:40] What is it that First Responders face and and just Define First Responders in what you do for me, please.

Olivia [00:04:46] Yeah, so we actually have Have a definition of First Responders on our website. I'm not looking at it to tell you verbatim, but I can tell you right now that we consider a first responder anyone in public safety. So you might have heard that recently 9-1-1 dispatch has been classified as First Responders versus clerical staff. Right?

Olivia [00:05:06] And we've always considered them First Responders. If you are coming if you are of service to your community for those, you know emergency reasons. To what part you play in that you're a first responder and you are getting that sort of stress. Here's the problem. There is a missing skill set in public safety training and that missing skill set is what's leading to burn out post-traumatic stress substance abuse physical base stress problems Sleep Disorders.

Olivia [00:05:41] I can go on we're here suicide, right? We were hearing these statistics. Okay, and there is a unique person wired a certain way that goes into public safety and I am not that person I have I mean, I've actually gone through classes in a fire academy and a police academy in order to get as close as I can to the job be cut to really tailor what I do to be specific but not only did I have a lot of fun.

Olivia [00:06:09] I also knew this is not the job for me. I'm here to support those who are wired that way even though you are wired that way military first. Ponder's your nervous system and brain is not built differently than mine be able to withstand that kind of stress and Trauma and I'm not talking about just critical incidents.

Olivia [00:06:32] I'm not talking about the big bad stuff. There are tiny little stressors and this is really true for the entire general population, but there are specific small traumas and stresses and and hers and activating things that happen every day that I don't think anyone's really counting even though it is activating the nervous system and cumulative stress has the same response or same effect on the nervous system that a traumatic one traumatic event does so maybe you've never touched your weapon as a police officer.

Olivia [00:07:08] That doesn't mean you are free from these statistics and these adverse effects of the job. There is not a skill set taught in. Academy training for this specifically it's talked about and maybe more nowadays and ever has before talking about stuff does not equal that you have a skill set to handle it.

Olivia [00:07:32] So in law enforcement or fire your top basic training, okay, you are taught handcuffing driving throwing ladders, you know how to breathe on your SCBA. Whatever basic skills you need for the job. So we're Earring so much now resiliency is so important Stress Management blah blah blah. All right. Well if it's so important then how come it's not taught to the same level of importance in your basic training skills.

Olivia [00:08:02] So because it's not it leads this gaping hole of training that our First Responders are falling down that hole. That's the problem. That was it we're seeing At and I and I don't want to put down anyone's efforts because I think the efforts are all in the right direction, but I was not seeing something that equated to a skill set as specific and tactical as defensive tactics Firearms handcuffing, you know, ladders knots whatever nothing was equating to that level of importance.

Olivia [00:08:44] Everyone will put resilience training and stress. S Management training to the side they'll cancel that class before they cancel any of the others. So we're talking about short-term emergency urgent skills for the Tactical skills, and that's good. And that's obviously it's needed it's urgent. It's life-saving. But if you don't have the long long term longevity skills, you're on the you're on your couch at home on disability.

Olivia [00:09:11] So you're not even in the field to use those short-term tactical skills right now. There you make sense of softness. X now

Michael [00:09:19] no, that's great. It really positions it and I you and I were talking a little bit off air before we jumped on that most of the yoga that I've done with an in-person instructor was actually at a martial arts gym. So one of the self-defense instructor is also the meditation teacher was also the yoga teacher and I think you made a really insightful comment that these are all disciplines.

Michael [00:09:42] They're all facets a very similar disciplines and and just the concept and we talked a lot about about on this show discipline in general and routine and habits. So it is really interesting that the the maybe the historical mindset in the law enforcement first responder military Community has been around practicing and honing so many disciplines including some of the martial arts elements of this but have not I think historically brought yoga breathing meditation those benefits to Bear

Olivia [00:10:12] 100% Yoga is in the same family of disciplines. As martial arts combat training all the really cool stuff right Krav Maga do Jutsu, you know CrossFit now every defensive tactics spear training, whatever those are all disciplines and you you hit the nail on the head with the word habit to is you go back to the gym.

Olivia [00:10:39] You keep training you keep practicing when you stop training your practice and you get out of the Habit you start to lose that Elite Edge. Yoga is this Same kind of discipline but what's different is in the west? It's been plucked out of that, you know group with that mentality of Elite Training and discipline and I'll tell you why because of money when you in the west.

Olivia [00:11:06] So yoga is a billion dollar industry. Let's just get that straight. It's a billion dollar industry and those who are making the cash from yoga are not going to stop branding. In the direction of making those billions and I'm not even putting that down make your money do your business. I'm a business lady myself, right?

Olivia [00:11:27] So it was funny because someone said to me recently. Oh, I don't know if I want to teach yff. Are you looking for First Responders? I think they may want traditional yoga. Here's what's funny what we're doing is traditional yoga traditional.

Olivia [00:11:47] Yoga is about self-mastery and discipline that is what it's about. And that's why it's way harder for people to practice traditional yoga. Then new-age trendy branded yoga. That's what she meant. She meant they want to practice yoga that came about in the last 35 years.

Olivia [00:12:13] Yoga has been around for five thousand years. What we're teaching is we're taking it back to how yoga the true intention of yoga and then tailoring it to the needs of First Responders and Military. So yes, it's absolutely a practice of discipline a practice of habit a practice of respect for yourself and for your teacher.

Olivia [00:12:42] I think nowadays and Studios to sort of there's this sort of like friendly like, you know, and I'm again anything I'm saying Michael. I'm not putting down, you know for I'm not putting anyone down because everyone's got It's working for some people and I so I don't want to say any one's doing any any harm, you know, but with my practice specifically because I trained in India and when my teacher came in we shut up.

Olivia [00:13:11] We stopped talking. We got to our mats. We shut up it was time for training and it's because we knew that our Master teacher truly loved us. That's a real master a real instructor must really care about there. Pupils, you know to be hard on them.

Olivia [00:13:31] If I didn't care about you, I wouldn't care how you performed in my yoga class. I'd let you be sloppy. I would let you do. Whatever you want to do everything that felt good, right? That's another thing and you probably know this does your training at Krav Maga feel good.

Michael [00:13:49] I mean, no not so much right, you know, it's kind of those things is a lot of love before and after but when you get in there, it's time to act. Exactly.

Olivia [00:13:58] You got it. That's exactly what yoga is afterwards. You're in a great place. You love going you make you make it there but during training it is uncomfortable. And so to make your pupil uncomfortable. The master teacher really has to have that love and respect for the student and mutual. So that's another part of yoga is to have that respect of my teachers coming in.

Olivia [00:14:20] I'm being respectful of this space and what this teacher is offering me.

Michael [00:14:25] Yeah, I think so. I have a 12 year old boy and if I think about it as a parent, you know, you can't always say yes to a child right? There are times you have to be more supportive and caring there other times. You have to be a bit more firm and teach and still that discipline and respect. I know if we get into some of your background on on your training India. I've heard you talk about how if you weren't there on time and ready to do your thing.

Michael [00:14:47] You were literally locked out in the cold, but I'm glad you tied in that the self Masterpiece because that's part of my journey and part of what I've experienced I think. And I guess the way I heard you describe maybe how yoga looks in a lot of that billion dollar industry maybe stops at the physical level and there's certainly there's tons of benefit there just physiologically, but it's missing.

Michael [00:15:12] I've heard you talk about your training that you know part of it was the movement but a large part of it is the breathing a large part of it is meditation. I think even described yoga more broadly as a philosophy

Olivia [00:15:25] that one. Yeah. It's Science and it's a philosophy 100% The practices is how you take that science and philosophy and you integrate it and you make those changes. So there are actually eight steps in eight steps in the Journey of yoga many different kinds of yoga to get to the ultimate yoga, which we call Raja yoga the physical element of yoga is one of Those eight steps and one of those different types of Yoga practices and in the west it's become 98% of it.

Olivia [00:16:08] So and but this is why this thing this body I can feel I can touch it as tangible. We identify if I were to ask you who you are. You would describe yourself. I'm a man. I have brown hair, you know, you would describe yourself your physical self as who you are we have as a Human race have an over identification with the body thinking that it's what it's who we are.

Olivia [00:16:34] So because of that it's super easy to use the physical as the gateway to yoga and that's fine. But it can't it can't stop there. There are many benefits to a physical practice and I bet everyone thinks I'm about to say the f word flexibility.

Olivia [00:16:55] And I hate that word. I also hate the word stretching because we're not stretching or becoming more flexible doing yoga. That's not the goal that implies some sort of unnatural pushing or pulling of the body. The reason that the physical benefits of benefits of yoga. Yes does include strengthening the body particularly small stabilizing muscles that often get missed in bigger workouts, but also instead of flexibility, I would say in Increasing mobility and Mobility is really found in the joints and the connective tissue and the faccia leave the muscles out of it the muscles actually find but the muscle is surrounded in and around surrounded with connective tissue.

Olivia [00:17:41] And that's what's locking up with stress and Trauma of life. And that's why we feel less and less mobile. So it's not because we're changing the body that creates the mobility. It's because we're rinsing the connective tissue out of its stress hormones the stress that's kept into the tissues is not ever processed out.

Olivia [00:18:04] So it stays and locks up to protect you it creates us body armor, you know to be like no more stress. I'm going to lock the stress out. So you have to have a practice of releasing and processing the stress out of your physical body and that has so many benefits one of which is increased Mobility. So great, you know, that's if you want that shirt that comes with it.

Olivia [00:18:25] But what I'm really interested in is when we move the body we're changing hormone levels. So I actually just because of traveling and whatever I have not really done it my practice and I would say like two weeks. So anyone out there who feels like they do yoga every day and feels like they're horrible people if they don't yoga girl here doesn't even get my yoga practice and I tell you I'll tell you what I do do every day though breath work every single day.

Olivia [00:18:51] So I didn't get my physical practice in for a couple weeks and boy boy, am I feeling it when I mean, I'm feeling it. I'm I slept nine hours last night and woke up tired. I am going between feeling in control of my life and feeling like stress is about to spin me out of control, right?

Olivia [00:19:13] So I'm like, okay what the hell like what am I and it's like, oh, I haven't processed stress out of my body. I haven't moved my hormones around. I haven't changed the chemical. Cocktail that's in my body and how I do that is well, there's three things and these are the three elements of Hatha Yoga, which is what we're based in one is the breath work too and I would say that's the most important to is the physical and three you can call it meditation or mindfulness.

Olivia [00:19:44] We call it neurological reset. It's just we like to instead take those buzzwords out and really put in a phrase. That's actually what we're doing. So yeah, so the physical is the Gateway and that's totally fine. But there's just so much more you can you can get out of it. But I think if I put a poster up on my yoga studio that said, you know better get responses proprioception will be better.

Olivia [00:20:12] You'll be functioning out of the part of your brain that makes decisions. I'd only I'm going to get a lot of people coming but if I you know, but if I said like you're going to look really cute in yoga pants boom, they'd be in in a

Michael [00:20:24] You know, yeah, absolutely. I mean we all have sort of goals there and it's an easy place to focus or start it is what sells right honestly. But so you said a ton there you've explained you strain that stress component, which is really ultimately what you're addressing. I think with Wi-Fi far.

Michael [00:20:45] So let's come back to that. But I think part of that is I've heard you talk about how that stress builds up and leads to things like back pain back injury other physical. Crustaceans and injuries that really are an accumulation of stress. What else did you hit in their flexibility? Okay. That's what I wanted to ask you a couple things. So I'm glad you said that so with Crossfit we see receiver ahmad's Mobility.

Michael [00:21:09] So the mobility where it was there, so I have been doing like you I don't hit it every day physically, but I've been doing a yoga a particular yoga routine for several years now and it's a video. I'm doing an online version and it's just the one that I found fits generally my schedule and it seems to have for me for my body for the joints and the back and where things build up for me.

Michael [00:21:36] It's what's effective for me. It just has the right. I don't know movement and twisting and bending the is working for me. Right? So I stick with what's working, but I don't know that I've gotten any increased flexibility out of that even after a couple of years maybe a little bit. I'm just not flexible and sometimes I'm going like wow. Wow, what's going on? Maybe I'm not doing it right or enough but one of the things that the instructor says in that video and said always had always sticks in my mind is he says you don't have to get a hundred percent into the pose to get a hundred percent of the benefit.

Michael [00:22:11] So can you explain that a little bit? Is that right? And so maybe that does this is my concern about flexibility all together combined with what you said

Olivia [00:22:18] 100% because you know, I think That's something you know, I'll typically before I do a first day of class. I have a lecture period where we talk about. What are we doing? What we're not doing and everyone's on board with me. They get it. Yes. Yes, then we go out to the yoga mat. And if I ask them to bend over and they can't touch their toes, they you can see them freaking out like total like ego killer like I can touch my toes and I keep repeating them.

Olivia [00:22:46] I don't care if you can touch your toes every hose every drill in your Yoga is scalable and just because you're not at the RX version of the yoga pose doesn't mean you're not getting the benefits out of it is a journey and it's a journey that's not linear.

Olivia [00:23:09] Depending on where you are in your life. Your yoga practice is going to change is going to look different. So the the one there are two things that are non-negotiable. One is the breath work and being able to maintain your breath work because that is a guidepost to your mind and to sort of where your boundary is.

Olivia [00:23:35] So if I give you a drill and you're trying to hold, let's say side plank, you're trying to hold side plank and you are unable to maintain the breath technique. I'm giving you you need to scale that post to a place where you you can maintain the breath because if you can't maintain your breath your nervous system is like a dog without a leash running around just doing whatever it wants put your leash on your dog, which is this crazy mind and nervous system.

Olivia [00:24:06] Put your leash on your dog and get it in control. Okay. The second is spine your spine alignment if you're if you're trying to hold a pose and let's do a full. Your high plank because I see this a lot people are do not want to put their knees on the floor because if they put their knees on the floor, it means there's a lot there are a loser right?

Olivia [00:24:28] That's what they're thinking even though. I'm not saying that but their hips are sinking because they don't have the strength. So their spine is their lower back is being crunched to hell. They're not breathing. I'm probably really sure. So are you getting any benefit of that? No, are you just pumping your ego up?

Olivia [00:24:49] And here's the thing too is I tell my police officer students a lot, especially in the academy when I see you do that. I would not trust you to be my partner because you are ego-driven. You will not put your knees down even though it's not the right choice, right? But when I see someone who's clearly in shape clearly way stronger than I am, but putting his or her knees down to be able to maintain maintain spinal alignment and breath control.

Olivia [00:25:18] That's someone you want on your team, you know. Someone who's thinking clearly and making adjustments and that someone who soon will be able to be in the full posture with correct spinal alignment and correct breathing. So everything in yoga is scalable and should be and yes, you're 100% percent getting the benefits because it's it's where you yoga is so individualized some of its individualized and some of it really is like hey, this is what we're what we're going for.

Olivia [00:25:53] But everyone's benefits going to be different right? So I might be getting the same experience with my knees down and bending my elbows a quarter of an inch doing it correctly and you since you're probably stronger than I am are getting the same benefit that I am with your knees off the floor and hand halfway down.

Olivia [00:26:14] We're getting the same benefit. It's just the look of the the drill is

Michael [00:26:19] different. Yeah, that makes sense everybody scaling to their own. Showing up the the way that they that they need to so yeah, thank you for that. That makes sense. I'm probably on the more modified scale of the physical practice, but it's you know, the discipline aspect of that I think is really important just that's discipline writing it right and try to focus on doing it the right way right focus on the quality to get the quality benefit.

Olivia [00:26:45] It takes you know the first step before you even hit a yoga mat. I know I said there's okay. There's breathwork physical neuro reset before breath work is mental. Preparedness or mental discipline. You have to keep in mind. Why am I why am I there and I'm committing to keep the why that I'm there at the Forefront of my practice. So as soon as I start to see myself and like I said, it's a journey.

Olivia [00:27:08] So like I said, okay you're stronger than I am. So you'd probably be different what if you did a huge like shoulder workout yesterday and you just could not hold High Plank and so maybe reverse maybe my needs to be off the Lauren I'd be in a you know different scale position than you are. So it doesn't mean that tomorrow you won't be back to where you were last week.

Olivia [00:27:30] So we have to know that it's not just this journey upward and if we fall down we're starting from the beginning it is going to Evan flow depending on what's happening in our in our lives.

Michael [00:27:41] Yeah, great Point even day-to-day not just across our lives big picture but one day to day and you also mentioned in their travel I travel a lot and a lot of my peer group. Do professionally and and so it sometimes daily practice becomes a challenge timeframe wise location getting rest all those kind of things right that challenge us to get a practice done.

Michael [00:28:05] So what is I've worked on this for myself trying to figure out sort of my minimal viable product, you know a lot on this on this podcast we talk about daily routine. I love to ask guess what their morning routine in particular looks like so what is what is yours in particular look like on one of those days. You maybe don't get much of your physical practice in or have to fall back to just the breath work all together.

Michael [00:28:28] What would a minimum morning routine look like?

Olivia [00:28:31] Yeah, so I'm glad you asked about morning routine because I've recently in the last few months got more discipline about mine and I have to admit it's still a challenge for me when I travel because there's so many variables, you know that it's just so hard to know when I'm home you have this controlled space.

Olivia [00:28:53] A and and I could tell you exactly what my morning routine is later if you want, but what I'm traveling I have to be honest that it's still quite a challenge. The one thing that I do that is easy. No matter where I am is a journaling practice that I do that I do every morning and I like to have a bit of a slower morning.

Olivia [00:29:14] I don't like to jump out of bed into the shower into my clothes and into whatever the thing. I just I feel like I'm waking up for What else and not me, you know, so I like to have an hour of space where I take my time. I drink my coffee and I do I do my morning routine.

Olivia [00:29:34] Yes. Typically it does include a physical practice if schedule allows but for instance today, I had you know this interview with you, right so I have to take the time to my physical practice. I am doing it later at 4:30. So I plant later so a couple the things is I think Instead of just saying I will do it tomorrow.

Olivia [00:29:59] I will do it in the morning actually making a schedule. So if you have from eight to nine am writing down nine or eight to eight 10 a.m. Is getting my coffee kind of blink in my eyes open waking up to 810 to 820 is going to be getting my journaling out, you know, whatever 22:30 is an inspirational.

Olivia [00:30:24] Video and 32 9 a.m. Is the physical if you write that out and guess an estimate as best you can with your travel what time you're going to have that I think that's going to be more successful than just. Okay, I'll and tomorrow, you know, what will blah. I'll get my gym it know like when when are you going to do that?

Olivia [00:30:47] So I think really having that and when I don't do that, I don't sometimes I even forget what I wanted to do like, oh I wanted to read that chapter. After and I forgot right really writing it writing it down helps me quite a bit not being hard on yourself if you don't get to everything right because that's going backwards what we're trying to do mentally and the easiest thing to do if you really are got nothing, you know, actually a couple weeks ago.

Olivia [00:31:14] It took me 24 hours to get home just because of flight cancellations and everything so really I've lost all possible time to do anything. If you okay I keep coming back to breathing and moving the spine spine alignment. If you breathe and move the spine, you just did a practice. So if you're sitting on the airplane, you can move your spine back and forth.

Olivia [00:31:37] You can twist your spine depending on who's next to you. You can do some lateral stuff right combine that with three part breath. That's three part breath is our basic foundational breathing you've read from the belly ribs all the way up to the chest exhale chest down and if you do that breath and you combine it With intentional movements not only is your neurological and physical bodies are getting a benefit but mentally as well when you breathe with purpose your mind is in this moment.

Olivia [00:32:11] Because if you don't breathe and you let your breath be automatic you your mind just went out the window somewhere else. So you have to have your mind in this moment to be able to borrow your breath from the nervous system and breathe yourself so that I would say is the minimal move your spine and six directions with three part breath.

Olivia [00:32:34] You can also add what we call cognitive declarations. We call them CDs for short. I also call this Anchor phrases or mental messages. Yes, it's self-talk. It's affirmative phrases. I don't say affirmations anymore, because people think Stuart Smalley you

Michael [00:32:49] remember that from estimate?

Olivia [00:32:50] Okay. Well some people don't I feel like I'm getting older now and the next generation is know what I'm talking about. So you don't have to make them like, I'm good enough. I'm smart enough unless you want to but it can be very short clear commands to your mind of what you want to do combine that with it. No one knows. This is a great. Art about this.

Olivia [00:33:11] Is it reason you can do on an airplane is no one knows you're doing a full intentional mind-body nervous system practice. So if you want to go to for me if I'm feeling activated is inhale. I am calm exhale. I am in control another good practice is combined with the journaling part of it is I have been doing a practice where I've been writing down a phrase 50 times five days in a row.

Olivia [00:33:41] So I count I've counted the amount of lines in my notebook. So I know how much is 50 and I write the phrase down 50 times and day 1 Day 2 through day 5 and that's another good practice for these mental, you know messages these cognitive declarations. So those are little practices that you really can squeeze in you really can.

Michael [00:34:02] Yeah, I love those little hacks. I never really thought you know, you're talking about scheduling it while traveling I mean even while at home or on your normal routine. I mean, there's so much we put on the calendar we put work stuff on the calendar all day long these interviews these meetings. I mean the guy cleaning my car, right? He's on my calendar, but I never thought about that way for some reason.

Michael [00:34:23] I don't have my practice on the calendar.

Olivia [00:34:26] Do you know why you know, why because all of us it there's a practice. I know if it's just at the West I don't know if it's our country. I don't know if it's our culture right now, and I'm trying to make this change. This is huge for me right now. Is we don't self prioritize right? So we put ourselves last so all of your practices you're willing at least subconsciously to sacrifice all of them before anything, you know work stuff or anything else and I think we're afraid if we put it first.

Olivia [00:35:03] It means we're selfish. It means we're self-centered. It means we're egotistical and I'm talking from my own experience of how come I'm always self-sacrificing right and I'm not I've decided I had the it was the end of last year that I was like this is not this plan is not going well and not sustainable for me to put everyone else first and allow my boundaries to be broken.

Olivia [00:35:27] So you're absolutely right. I think this if if we do and I do schedule it at home to I'll say okay my morning routine is here to here and this is all the stuff I'm going to do in it and to not you know, It reminds me of the movie The Grinch when he says dinner with myself, I can't cancel that again.

Olivia [00:35:47] Basically that right is like you don't have to tell anyone what it is, you know, and who cares even if you do it's your life. But like, you know, if I had a more if my morning routine today, it was about like 7 to 8:30, right? So if you had said to me, okay, let's do our interview at 7 a.m. I have two choices.

Olivia [00:36:08] I can up my morning routine to five. I am or I can tell you I'm not available at 7 a.m. Right I don't have to say why but I think once we start doing that we start to feel better about ourselves. We actually do get the practices in and I think you're going to find that business or whatever that you have been sacrificing for actually starts to get better because you're better you're in a better

Michael [00:36:36] place. I totally agree with that you show up just as a better a better employee. Better person Better Business leader, and yeah that sacrificing ourselves putting ourselves last that totally resonates and even here in retirement investing, you know, every every Guru every book you go to on that will say, you know, most people pay themselves last the invest last you need to pay yourself first, and maybe that's what we need to do with our physical and mental and self practice as well.

Michael [00:37:05] So put self-care first with yeah. Well their time their

Olivia [00:37:08] yeah a woman named Kate and Northrop who I listened to and she wrote a book called do less which love how that sounds but she says pay yourself first with your time

Michael [00:37:19] with your time. Yeah, and maybe you know, you also mentioned saying no to things which is also discipline in terms of

Olivia [00:37:26] time. You know what I would say about saying no as well as that's hard the word and O is hard so like the example I gave like if you had said let's do our interview at seven. One of my morning routine was I didn't say no. By I'm not going to be a guest for you. I could say I'm not available then.

Olivia [00:37:46] How about 9 a.m. Right so you can say no in a way that's just maybe later or another or you know, redirecting someone and so since it is saying no something is it's been particularly difficult for me and because I'm a recovering people pleaser. So so that is a tool that that I've learned to do that's made me feel better is to redirect someone versus just saying no to them because that's so uncomfortable for everybody.

Michael [00:38:19] Yeah, I get that. Yeah, I totally get that. I think you know a lot of this is you might have even said it this way is about just being kind to ourselves, you know, if you don't get to the practice, you know, you can't beat yourself up too much. If you you know paying yourself first with time is about being kind to yourself scheduling it to get it done is about being kind to yourself.

Michael [00:38:40] But there are also ways to okay fine. I didn't get my morning routine. And or I did something super abbreviated and and I would have wanted to do more but there are lots of things we can do just throughout the day, right? Like you said just breathing intentionally. Nobody else is even going to notice that or see that and there's so many places you can do that sitting in a sit in traffic on a plane taking a walk in the elevator, you know, whatever that might be and I think if we if we start to kind of steer back Back to how you work with First Responders. I

Michael [00:39:12] think you've talked about hey, you know, you might be leading a session on a schedule at a location but there are also practices you can just do in the break room right kind of spot drills if you

Olivia [00:39:24] will. Oh, yeah. Oh, I love that spot drill. So yeah, that's why should I should incorporate that because that's exactly what it is. We're yeah. Your training is 60 minutes with us on the mat or whatever our teachers come in to do for you, but the intention is really to apply it in. And around weaved in and around your life so dispatchers they get you know, a 15-minute break and they do typically have like a quiet room.

Olivia [00:39:50] So do it then you don't need a yoga mat. We like to say that all pants are yoga pants. So you don't need yoga pants you need you and your breathing and you can you can do this anywhere. I have a lot of my students tell me that they do it. You know, I'm not asking anyone to do a We're facing dog in the middle of a 12-hour standoff, right but you can and my student has said this has used his breath work and his mental, you know framing during those 12 hours standoffs.

Olivia [00:40:25] So there are these practices you can weave in and around there was this is an example. I've been recently bringing up because recently I was sitting in front of in my car sitting in front of a police department about to go in for a meeting with another And my teachers and there was a crazy lady who came up to the car and started like pounding on the car and like yelling at us and like, you know, whatever and my immediate reaction was to yell back at her, you know, get the whatever and because I practice mindfulness and I practiced creating that space between stimulus and response.

Olivia [00:41:01] I was able to lift above the situation and actually have the space to to respond. In a way, that would be more beneficial than yelling at her. Right but that's only because I trained that way training and yoga will allow you to apply it in real life scenarios.

Olivia [00:41:23] So it's not just I think everyone's thinking of yoga is just the training just the two that's doing yoga. Yoga is actually being able to have Mastery over your mind throughout your work and life you just train for it on a yoga mat. So yeah you can interspersed. some of the training and drills anywhere anytime because it's all based in breathing.

Michael [00:41:47] I like that how it becomes not just the 60 Minutes on the map but really the kind of woven into your whole life and maybe it's all paraphrase that in a way that resonates with me. So when I started Krav Maga, you know again, it's it's that our of literal training but then it started to sink in a way that as you walked around the world.

Michael [00:42:08] There's a situational awareness that develops and you start to look at things differently and you start to have Front intuition and awareness around things in a sense that so I took my son for a week of kids self-defense and I signed him up and he knew it was coming and I asked him maybe the week before. Hey, are you excited for this stuff, you know coach Trey and he's going to make it really fun and you're going to learn how to keep yourself safe.

Michael [00:42:32] And he goes Dad. No, I don't like violence and I said, well, that's exactly why we're going to learn how to avoid violence. It's so it's not a about going in and figured out how to hit. You know, Bob the punching dummy. It's about how to go back out take this into our lives and weave it into 24 hours a day, you know, whether it's the crazy lady banging on your car or it's a stressful meeting at work or I gotta go give a public speaking engagement.

Michael [00:43:00] I can take that moment take that breath. Even if it's a couple seconds and sort of recenter.

Olivia [00:43:06] You got it. I mean two things come up with that and and the god I want to like not forget either either. One right now, but okay. So the first thing I'm going to mention is stress. Okay strip. You mentioned public speaking right stress can be literal or it can be just the Mind assuming something's happening to the body experiences stress.

Olivia [00:43:33] You know, it's not true. That's public speaking when you experience the distress of public speaking. Your mind is assuming you're standing in front of a firing squad. Cause you're not going to be hurt your life is not in danger. So we have to shift the stress to the you stress the challenge type of stress the stress of football player has when he goes out in the field not the life-or-death kind of stress, right?

Olivia [00:43:56] But if we're going to train that way you have to create you have to manufacture an uncomfortable situation and you have to manufacture stress to be able to know how to work with stress and have stress be your friend. So it's kind of similar to of like weird. Were trading all of this so we can create a heightened situational awareness a heightened self-awareness not hyper vigilance, but self-awareness situational awareness and understanding of the world around me.

Olivia [00:44:25] So when stressful things come up, whether perceived or actual you've already trained under stress and those tools it actually reminds me of a mark Divine quote that again. I'm paraphrasing here because not in front of me, but I think he said something like a warrior must be skilled and action and non-action. Action, so they're two sides of the same coin meaning that when you practice the action part you are able to be still and this to Circle back to how and why we train First Responders the way we do is that I think a lot of people when they think of yoga for stress.

Olivia [00:45:06] They think we're sitting on a mat like this. I have my thumb and my index finger together like this right and two You not stressed. You have to be in a quiet place with incense. To actually move stress out of the body. You have to move that's how stress gets out of the body. You have to move you have to activate appropriately in order to regulate appropriately.

Olivia [00:45:31] So yes, we have a gritty physical practice that scalable everyone's gritty looks a little bit different right? So I don't want anyone to think that we're doing 200 burpees in there unless that's what needs to be done. You know, I don't know but for some people it's just Ring above a chair for like 30 seconds, right?

Olivia [00:45:52] That's tear pose. I mean that could be really tough. But the physical has to be there so we can process it out and be in action so that the neuro reset the meditation part of our practice. You can actually effectively be still there is a teacher of mine that said if your body is stressed and Restless the answer is to be still in meditation.

Olivia [00:46:19] Even if your mind is stressed out and Restless, you need to move your body. So, you know just kind of and I always go back to Mark's quote because you know, two things is we don't want to only think of the action part as the part needed you have to train to be still but to be still you have to train in the action part.

Olivia [00:46:43] So anyone who loves one and not so much the other sorry, you got to put them

Michael [00:46:48] together, right? Yeah. I think that Duality maybe doesn't make sense until you start to practice it and then Completely fits together really is two sides of the of the same coin. So when you go let's take it back here to to your work and you know, look at your website you have so many agencies that you've worked with. I

Michael [00:47:09] think you've been at this for and

Olivia [00:47:11] that's not even an updated list. Okay, we have any would update yet. So yeah, there's a lot going

Michael [00:47:15] on. Yeah. No, it's fantastic. I know you've been at this for a number of years. You've had a chance to touch so many departments and types of first responder. Stations one thing I wanted to ask is and I think where we started was talking about. Just getting this discipline this mindset this awareness of the need for this into the community into practice and the niche that you focus on to the extent that it is getting in.

Michael [00:47:42] Is it still reactive? Are you coming in and working with people that are already in the field because this wasn't training that was built into the academy or is it starting to creep into the academy and pre Academy work?

Olivia [00:47:55] We are definitely in both and I like that you use that word reactive because I think that a lot of training in this is reactive tools which again valuable not putting them down. But and what if we had a tool that was proactive, so we're really I think a little bit unique is that we are really trying to take more of a proactive approach so they don't get to the point where neat where they need those reactive tools.

Olivia [00:48:23] So we are in a Adam he's that's a big one for us. I they use curriculum that I have built and our teachers or license to use we are in in-service training same formalized curriculum in service training is kind of like continuing education you could you could equivalent to it, but there are mandated hours by the state typically for the amount of hours you need for in service.

Olivia [00:48:48] These are great great platforms because those are both what you call it. Not confined audiences there. You know the word I'm looking for starts with a see

Michael [00:49:01] I'm drawing a blank to

Olivia [00:49:02] okay. Well, they're they're closed audience. I bet the blisters know what I'm trying to say. Here are probably screaming it out everybody, right? So they're they're a fixed audience. I'm using every word captive. That's it. That's it a captive audience. Thank you. They're both captive audiences because it's mandatory training, right? So especially the academy was so great and I had I've had a couple officers who were had In the academy tell this to me is that the beginning or even before I came in?

Olivia [00:49:33] They didn't want to do it. They weren't in the yoga whatever and by the end they got it. They have the tool and they use out in the field. So that's what's so valuable have about having 22 weeks in an academy or whatever is we really can build on this stuff with our captive audience with the same students. I think it's it's great.

Olivia [00:49:53] Now. Our other portion is coming into departments whether mandatory or voluntary Classes for those who are already active and that's also great. It's never too late. We even have a video on our cyber Academy for the retired responder. So we had a retired battalion chief of a fire department do the video for us.

Olivia [00:50:16] And that video was his first yellow class. Wow. It's yeah, so I know that's a that takes a lot of guts, right? So it's I never want to say it's too late that if you It had this beginning. It's like too late now. I mean start whenever but we really are focusing on trying to make it a basic training tool.

Michael [00:50:39] Yeah, and I did not realize you're also working with retired First Responders. I know we mentioned a list and I know the list gets much much longer, but at the beginning you mentioned things around stress depression suicide things like that that I know are an element of the job while And service, you know and a terrible challenge, but I believe it, you know, it also gets harder after retirement.

Michael [00:51:05] When you you lose that day-to-day connection to the tribe and the mission and then you got more idle time and you got things going on around that so super cool to hear about the retired element of it. How does how does this go into practice? Right? So if somebody hears this, you know the guys that I went and volunteered with or rode along with and the Chula Vista Fire Department or an agency or That's not yet working with you and the organization.

Michael [00:51:31] So does it do they engage on a departmental level a city level individual level if they want to you know, how wide do you offer this with your certified coaches or virtually through online? How does that

Olivia [00:51:44] work all of the above? Because every department and every city functions differently, which makes our job super fun because we have to sort of, you know, some kind of repeat the same process but We tailor it to the need of that department or that City or that shift and you know, we kind of figure it out with everyone because it is a new training tool.

Olivia [00:52:09] So people are kind of don't know how to plug it in or you know, so we work with them. I will say we've never denied a departments our training because of budgetary reasons we do there is a rate to our training because it does hold value right our So whoever's hearing this is another girl. I

Olivia [00:52:30] want to put out there. We no longer want to have to put that cost on a department or a city because we know that they're dealing with a government budget which is limited or a grant sometimes this training comes through a grant that they've applied for would be really fantastic as if we hit had some major sponsorship private Corporation, whatever that just allowed us to offer this training to whoever wanted it.

Olivia [00:52:57] So I'm putting it out there. Because that's the big goal, right? We are not quite there yet. So we do have a rate we charge for our services but it's on a sliding scale and that sliding scale goes all the way down to zero. So we do have some funding and donations that come in and we are able to supplement it.

Olivia [00:53:17] So we're able to pay our teachers even if the department has no budget for this at all because we also think paying our teachers is necessary because there It's some people want to volunteer, but I don't think volunteering is sustainable for people long-term. So we really want to pay them for their for their service or providing as well.

Olivia [00:53:38] So the first step is if someone's hearing this and once this individually further Department, there are city manager there the risk manager whatever first step is to just email us and let us know what your situation is you can email info at yoga for First Responders dot org orgy and to all L doubt yoga for First Responders or programs at yoga for First Responders dot-org either one and just say here's my situation here is what I want.

Olivia [00:54:08] We'll ask a few questions and figure out the best way to plug it in. We do have some contracts with cities. We do have some contracts with a department and I'm actually working right now with one of our teachers that has certain shifts on certain fire departments that want it but since it's not All shifts the department doesn't want to create a contract.

Olivia [00:54:32] So actually what they do have is a unified governing body for like manage self, you know stress and Aid and you know care whatever wellness and so we're thinking of maybe working with that governing body so that all those different departments and shifts can get it without our teacher having to go all over the city.

Olivia [00:54:53] It can be at one place at one time. So we're sort of being creative with how to get Get how to get everyone who wants it to have it another way, you know, that's a volunteer situation and you know, another situation with the fire department is a little bit easier is that it was mandated. It was mandated by the training Chief and I honestly think that that's the best way to do it because people don't know what they don't know they might think I'm going to teach them to stretch and 2.

Olivia [00:55:21] Ohm and I'm going to light incense and they don't know that how helpful it could be unless they're forced to go to class A couple weeks. Then when they do they end up really liking it. I've heard that not only I don't I hate that word liking it finding it useful and effective and necessary. Let's say that instead, you know, sometimes we don't like to go to training but we know that it's good for us, right.

Olivia [00:55:42] So I really if it's possible. I know that can be difficult, but it has been done and it has been super effective when it's mandated training like other training that's mandated. We work with police departments and their shift work to try to get it. It in there, sometimes we show up for five minutes of roll call. So we're very creative to make your unique situation work to get this training.

Olivia [00:56:07] I mentioned this to you before but if all else fails, we are launching an online platform for this reason we have about a hundred twenty active instructors around the u.s. Mainly in the US a couple in Canada a couple in Australia someone in the Netherlands. So we are expanding and we most likely will have a teacher in your area.

Olivia [00:56:28] But we also may not at this point. So this online platform is so an individual or a department can also get the cyber Academy to to reach more people. It has workshops on it. We're going to create in service training on it. It also has classes from as little as two minutes and some are audio and Summer video.

Olivia [00:56:50] So, you know, like you were mentioning earlier earlier if someone has a three minute break to run to the bathroom and they're not feeling and great they can put on it's going to be on an app as well. So they can put on the app three minutes self-regulation and they can get their mind their mind and body and nervous system back in order.

Olivia [00:57:11] So if all else fails just reach out to us and we'll work with you to figure out how to get you this training.

Michael [00:57:16] Okay, that's amazing. It's it's impressive you guys are so creative and you have so many dimensions and scales you can you can work on so just to be super clear about one thing, you know, if there's some corporate or individual Out there you are set up. I believe as a non-profit.

Olivia [00:57:32] So yes is the answer. We're a 501 c 3 non-profit so we can provide tax letters to anyone who wants to donate doesn't always have to be funds dollars. It can also be equipment or software or you know, something like that that could keep a cost down for something.

Olivia [00:57:54] So yes, so we are a 501 c 3 and Last year 90% of contracted Services went back to support contracted Services meaning that and again anyone who wanted a program but didn't have the budget got it from our funding.

Olivia [00:58:16] So, you know, we're really are we're completely mission-driven. But we also want to sustain our organization so we can keep doing this work.

Michael [00:58:24] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So the the online has that Much just for online a nap or should we just keep in tune through your website.

Olivia [00:58:32] Yeah, it launches March 23rd 2020. So if you go to yoga for First Responders dot-org, there is a little thing on there that says cyber Academy and right now it's a page. It says we're launching March 23rd and ask you to put your name and email in because we're going to send an email to that list with a Founders rate.

Olivia [00:58:54] So you want to make sure to be on that list to know as soon as it as it launches. Launches and then it'll be available for everyone in March with the Android app. And then in April the IOS app is going to launch.

Michael [00:59:08] Perfect. And is that so cyber Academy going to be restricted to First Responders or is that open anybody?

Olivia [00:59:14] It's open to anyone and that's a really good point is we're going to be adding new content every other week and we like to say it's for military Public Safety and you because basically it's yoga. It's yoga. It's Allure to be more tactical Tech to cool right and if you want to have everything that you talked about with you know with your training if you want to have that New Perspective if you want to be elite if you want to have that Sharper Edge, if you want to feel like you own the tools of your mind-body nervous system and they're not owning you this is the training for you.

Olivia [00:59:53] You do not have to be in public safety. You do not have to be a military you can train like Like a bad acid military and Public Safety just in your home, you know, because the truth is we're all badasses. We're all Warriors of one, you know one type or another facing a different battle that we're all facing in life. So I encourage everyone to to make use of this especially if you want to even teach this for us someday, if you're a civilian, but you want to even be involved further.

Olivia [01:00:22] This is a great way to start see what we're all about.

Michael [01:00:25] I think you just did my own wrap up for me. That was that was amazing. Totally from my own practice and learn a lot from you even just in our our here today. I'm so convinced about how yoga and and the whole aspect of it, you know, we talked about for as we talked about mindfulness. We talked about physical practice. There's the the philosophical aspect of it really is a huge tool set and showing up as the best version of ourselves and looking for that edge in performance the matter what our job is no matter how we serve our families and our communities and the world.

Michael [01:00:57] So, thank you so much. For your time. I'm going to get those links out. I would love to have you back sometime and talk more about the morning routine that we did into and and breathing but on breathing maybe if we leave it on that note. I think you also have some new material coming out through Instagram on breathing was is it brief

Olivia [01:01:14] tactical? Oh, yeah. Yeah. So we're doing kind of a spin-off Instagram page called breathe tactically and it's really going to be hyper focused on the breathing element. So if you want to follow that it's going to be Everything and anything around breathing probably using a lot of resources that we already follow who use breathing for that extra edge of Elite Performance and Mastery.

Olivia [01:01:43] So if that's your thing, you know, follow that start to move forward with that and that is an element of the entire yoga for First Responders protocol.

Michael [01:01:53] Perfect. So, I'm really looking forward to diving into that and cyber Academy when it comes out and just keep her appreciate your time. Thank you for sharing. I learned a ton. I got a ton of notes Here for to share with the

Olivia [01:02:04] audience letting me talk about what I love and I learn a lot from from people like you and everyone who's exploring this kind of this kind of work. So it makes me better and better to deliver it to to Public Safety and Military.

Michael [01:02:19] Well, thanks for what you do and have an amazing day and thanks again for your time Olivia. Yes. Thank you. There you have it guys another week in the books. Hopefully you got a ton out of it and enjoy the Insight from Olivia as much as I did. Please check out the show notes for this one at man of mass three.com slash 0 for 3 man a master e.com / 0 43 gotten visit and support Olivia and her team help spread the word and in particular make sure you tune in for her launch of their cyber Academy coming.

Michael [01:02:54] March in just a few weeks. Also I want to thank you again for your time. If you enjoyed the show. Please go out to iTunes and rate and review the podcast. Hopefully give us a five star rating. It's a comment best of all help spread the word by sharing the show at least one other friend who might enjoy and benefit from it.

Michael [01:03:15] Okay, and really that's it for this week. So make sure you tune again again, make sure you tune in again next Thursday, but until then no excuses and get after it.