Double Amputee Iraq Veteran Now Helps Others Through Yoga
Lifestyle| | By Lauren Boudreau
On November 10, 2004, Iraq veteran Dan Nevins was only four kilometers from his dismount site when an IED detonated under him. The injuries resulted in amputation of his left leg. He would have died if it were not for his quick thinking and willpower. Nevins told Today that he “made a fist and pressed it inside the wound against the piece of shrapnel that was lodged next to my femur.”
His left leg was amputated below the knee, but his right leg was saved, albeit not without suffering horrible infections and undergoing a total of 36 surgeries.
Nevins said that having to leave the military was a blow to his confidence and pride.
“I wasn’t a soldier anymore, just this broken pitiful mess in a crappy hospital gown, where just the day before I was about to lead men in combat,” he said.
However, through help from the Wounded Warrior Project, Nevins realized his life wasn’t over. They took him skiing and Nevins saw that he could do more than he thought. He soon grew competitive at sports and gained confidence from beating two-legged men at golf and cycling.
His newfound confidence came to a halt though when his right leg became infected and also had to be amputated.
Not knowing what to do or make of himself now, Nevins turned to one of his friends – a yoga instructor named Anna.
She told him, you need “some yoga in your life.”
Originally scoffing at the idea of a man doing yoga, Nevins committed to just three sessions.
He admits it was hard at first, saying, “You’re asking me to spread my feet apart on legs that I don’t feel.”
He was equally afraid of taking off his prosthetics, as not many people had seen him without them.
“Back before I got hurt, my legs were the best part of my body,” Nevins said. “And then they were gone, and what was left was the opposite of how I felt about my legs.”
But participating in yoga led him to realize this was what he needed all along.
“It was like I got struck by lightning from the earth and it didn’t hurt,” he said of the experience. “And it’s like the earth was saying to me, ‘Dan where have you been for the last 10 years?’ What I came to realize was that lack of connection to the earth was keeping me from being connected to other people.”
In 2014, Nevins decided to go through yoga teacher training in Hawaii, and he never looked back.
Today, he teaches yoga all over the country, inspiring people and veterans. He’s taught on the lawn of the White House and the famous Bryant Park in New York City.
“I had this realization that the most life-saving part for me was not being in a class full of veterans,” he explained, “but no longer feeling like I was different because I was a veteran.”