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 Mindfulness and Yoga in BCT: A Battalion Commander’s Perspective
LTC Daniel L. Rausch
On 16 July 2020, the 3rd Battalion 34th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment were tasked by
TRADOC, CIMT, and the Fort Jackson Army Training Center to conduct a Mindfulness and Yoga pilot program in support of initiatives under the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) System. This program’s purpose was to pilot techniques
in the Basic Combat Training (BCT) Program of Instruction (POI) to determine mindfulness and yoga’s impact on various training outcomes. These included Soldier indiscipline, emotional regulation, mental toughness, graduation rates, injury rates, high-stress event performance, and attitudes that may increase BCT graduation rates.
The concept of the operation for the execution of this pilot program was for two battalions (2-60th Infantry Regiment and 3-34th Infantry Regiment), with a minimum of 40 platoons, to conduct the Mindfulness and Yoga training program during BCT. Each platoon received either ten weeks
of Mindfulness and Yoga training or ten weeks
of active control training without it. As part
of the pilot program, select Trainees received a two-hour mindfulness training block each week for four consecutive weeks (eight hours total). Additionally, these Trainees received 15 minutes per day for mindfulness practice for the duration of BCT. Yoga training replaced the Preparatory and Recovery Drills at each physical readiness training (PRT) session for the duration of the ten-week training cycle for a total of 30 minutes per session. The Trainees from the participating battalions completed surveys during the execution of the Mindfulness and Yoga pilot program.
The battalions systematically collected data from the Mindfulness and Yoga pilot program’s execution throughout their training cycles to assist the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) efforts to compile a study on the program. There were
four primary research questions for the basis of
the study: 1) What is the impact of mindfulness
and yoga training on mental readiness? 2) What
is the effect of mindfulness and yoga on physical readiness? 3) How do attitudes impact the understanding of mindfulness and yoga change before and after training? 4) To what extent are mindfulness and yoga practices sustained 6-12 months post BCT? This WRAIR study is ongoing, and the results indeed will not be revealed in this paper. The feedback provided in this paper on
the Mindfulness and Yoga pilot program is from the perspective of the 2nd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment officers and NCOs.
TRADOC and CIMT did a fantastic job setting the conditions for the execution of this initiative. The planning for this program was conducted
with the necessary resources procured and allocated well in advance of the pilot’s start date. TRADOC and CIMT efforts allowed the battalion to concentrate fully on the implementation of the program. The mindfulness training was led and instructed by CIMT contracted Master Resiliency Trainers-Performance Experts (MRT-PE). An informational inbrief was provided to the battalion’s Drill Sergeants and Cadre by the MRT-PE primary instructors to familiarize our leadership before beginning the BCT cycle. This brief also helped prepare the unit’s Drill Sergeants to facilitate daily Mindfulness-Based Attention Training (MBAT). Yoga instruction was led and instructed by CIMT
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