“Let’s address the emotions and feelings you’re having… and stop shoving it down.”
Michelle Garcia has not followed a common career path. Her profession has spanned from spending 20 years in law enforcement, as a patrol officer and detective, to becoming a yoga and meditation instructor.
Garcia is now passionate about “protecting the protectors.” She knows from personal experience how first responders can gradually get changed by the job—and not for the better. “After about ten years, they reach their max,” says Garcia of many police officers, military personnel, and firefighters.
For Garcia, the compounding effects of repeated exposure to violent crimes and dangerous situations resulted in feeling “ungrounded, unsafe… in a weird fog place.” She disclosed that she stopped thinking of citizens as humans and felt her kindness was slipping away.
“You’re not yourself,” she said of many who spend years as first responders. Insomnia, anxiety, anger issues, and relationships breaking down are common. Much of her work is about helping these atypical students re-learn how to feel.
Listen in for the full interview with TUF blog manager Ariel Kiley and Michelle Garcia to find out what Garcia has learned from teaching yoga, meditation, and self-massage on YTU therapy balls to the Army National Guard, victims of human trafficking, police officers and firefighters. You don’t want to miss this one!

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Catherine Gosselin

Très inspirant. Moi non plus je n’ai pas le profil d’un professeur de yoga. Venant du domaine des communications et des relations publiques, le corps était plutôt laissé de côté. Par contre, je trouve très intéressant la manière dont elle explique en quoi ce genre de métier (policier, pompier…) a le plus grand besoin de ce genre d’enseignement.


This was such an interesting interview. Since this was written pre-pandemic, it would be interesting to see how this work helped first responders during the pandemic. I was also thinking about how this type of work should really be required/integrated into the firefighter’s/police officer’s sort of daily routine. I have a similar trajectory as Michelle. I saw a need to teach my students (in high school history) wellness, also pre-pandemic. This is something I’ve been doing in class for years. I just saw a need and filled it and I had a strong wellness/physicality interest and knowledge, I felt confident… Read more »

Anya Taylor

I enjoyed hearing Michelle’s story, and how she was able to bring breath, mindfulness (and so much more – can not even explain it in this short blog) to a population and occupation that do to the nature of the job, and the culture may be more difficult integrate. The comment by the interviewer when addressing post traumatic stress – “natural and healthy for the body to reach capacity and let you know for intense survival responses…” not much in our culture teaches us this, how to listen, how to hear our own responses, and then what to do about… Read more »


What an inspiration story!!!

Rani Bechar

What a cool transition ! It seems disconnected- Michelle’s two career paths, but there are so many parallels to be drawn, and teaching yoga is such a wonderful way to channel the energy and focus needed in the world of law enforcement !


Michelle Garcia’s journey from being a police officer and becoming a Yoga teacher, its very admiring and brave step to do, alot of stigma surrounds the idea of becoming a yoga teacher and going against all the possible feelings she might have had is very admiring, also doing this to help all of her community and the persons she was working or use to work with seems as a very nice thing to do, it is true that now a days suicide and depression rates have raise, so incorporating abilities or practices like Yoga, meditation, etc makes a big diference… Read more »


Very inspiring story! Thanks for sharing!!