Yoga classes help metro first-responders deal with the stress of their jobs and help others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Each week in yoga class, KC first-responders are taking care of themselves to better care for others and learning techniques to help them on the job.

Yoga is offered to all first-responders in the metro at police headquarters every Wednesday.

“It makes us better police officers, better family members," KCPD Officer Mikki Cassidy said. "You can't pour from an empty cup."

Quiet and calm are the last words you would use to describe the life of a first-responder.

“I was starting to become extremely familiar with how much secondary trauma affects these officers from call to call,” KCPD Sgt. Michelle Hon said.

But every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., it's peaceful in a room at KCMO Police Headquarters during the weekly yoga session.

Metro first-responders do yoga Wednesday, March 21, at KC Police Headquarters.

“Since I have started meditating, breathing techniques and yoga, I just kind of do a little bit throughout the day,” firefighter Essie Titus said.

Titus has also become a certified yoga therapist, helping to teach these classes with fellow first-responder Cassidy.

They teach each class techniques that first-responders can use when they need a moment to pull themselves together on the job.

“We do these things all the time to people that we care for in the community, so it's really important to make sure that we`re reminding each other to do that for ourselves,” Titus said.

“People come into the class, and they`re tense. A lot of it is just shoulder or frazzled,” Cassidy said. “I just love it at the end of the class when no one really moves, when they have this look. They're just light, sweet, calm.”

The idea is to help first-responders deal with trauma, stress and the highs and lows of the job.

They need to take care of themselves first to better take care of others.

“There are just some people that aren't aware that there are stress management tools that are readily available to them,” Titus said. “The more that I practiced them, the more that I noticed how effective it was.”

The class has since been opened up to military veterans from the local Warrior's Ascent program as well. First-responders who want to join can show up downtown at 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays.