As part of the unit responsible for patrolling the Downtown Eastside (DTES), members of the Vancouver Police Department’s Beat Enforcement Team (BET) are trained to deal with tough situations. But can they handle 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises in a room heated to 40 C?
Now taping its second season, The Beat—a reality series documenting the poverty, drug addiction and mental illness encountered by BET officers on a daily basis in one of Canada’s most controversial neighbourhoods—recently paid a visit to Bikram Yoga Vancouver’s Cambie studio for a 90-minute Bikram Yoga class.
“Being healthy and fit is paramount in such a stressful job,” says sergeant Toby Hinton,who’s spent his 20-year policing career walking the DTES beat. “I like to look after my team … so we came up with this idea to try [Bikram Yoga] for the show.”
Though every member of Hinton’s squad works out on a regular basis, none had done Bikram Yoga before, making the class “a real challenge.”
“We’re not used to that kind of heat here in Vancouver—maybe if we lived in a tropical climate it wouldn’t have been as tough,” he jokes. “But it’s good for us to challenge ourselves. Many police officers run and lift weights, but they’re only training from a one-dimensional perspective. In my opinion, yoga is part of a multi-dimensional routine that strengthens both body and mind.”
While sweating their way through the class wasn’t easy, several of the officers later reported that they’d experienced a better night’s sleep for having tried.
“It’s physical work, much of it done on foot … and it’s always go, go, go,” says Hinton, who plans to practice Bikram Yoga to rehabilitate a knee injury before surgery. “Regular exercise and activity can help us get over the hump. You’ll definitely see some of us back in the yoga room soon.”