Let’s put it straight. Doing yoga is difficult if you’ve never done it before. Really getting into full stretches take time and effort. Count me as one of those guys who is impressed by those having the ability to do a Garland pose for 15 + minutes. That’s a basic pose for beginners. In the last 20 years I never practiced yoga much even though I’ve been married to a yoga expert for years. My wife has easily taught it for decades while I barely hung on. After bugging me for years to attend her classes, reminding me to do deep breathing exercises daily, and encouraging me to stretch on a nightly basis, I finally gave in and started doing a 10 minute routine every night and it’s paying off.

For those unfamiliar with yoga it is a practice that helps build various aspects of the body, spirit and mind. Just a few minutes of practicing yoga helped me improve my flexibility, muscular strength and tone and my breathing greatly improved. I’m slowly becoming a proponent of Yoga. In fact, during a competition against some special operations members, I was able to hold a plank position 3 times longer than the strongest and youngest guy that held the record during a fitness challenge. He was half my age.

Those looking to increase their intuitive action and to become more self-aware of their body are turning to yoga as a means of not only staying healthy but as a way to be better martial artists. Yoga is helpful for those doing Jujitsu or Muay Thai. Practitioners of yoga find it is a good means of learning to relax under pressure, extending chi energy and moving towards the center of the body. There is a lot of good research on yoga to be found in the internet.

What I want to do is bring your attention to a brand that I like a lot. The brand is called American Yogi and it’s owned and run by an active duty soldier out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and his brother who is an emergency response provider. All of the shirts are designed by them, locally crafted, and hand-printed in North Carolina. This is an interesting brand that gets away from the cool-guy stuff of guns, Vikings, Spartans, and skulls. A different look altogether and just as cool as the best veteran run apparel brands.

I really like the idea of American pop culture fused with Eastern Yoga. Their simple message, from my perspective, is to be strong, enlightened, and an individual. Their shirt designs are cool! The shirt in the image above, called OM logo, is a 3.5oz 65% Poly 35% Combed Ring-Spun Cotton Shirt. The symbolism from Phil’s design was created as a means of paying homage to our military brothers and sisters. The logo design is loosely based on the POW/MIA (Prisoners of War, Missing in Action) design created in 1971. The original flag design consists of a silhouette of a prisoner of war before a guard tower and barbed wire in white on a black field. They replaced the captured lone soldier with the Sanskrit “Om” symbol, and the barbed wire with an olive branch; a symbol of peace. He notes on his website, “This design truly brings together our mission of providing a sense of tranquil strength to our American Yogi family.”

I was turned on to American Yogi by the dudes at Marauder Threadworks. I looked at American Yogi’s Instagram feed and instantly liked what I saw. I liked their images, their message and I reposted an image from their page onto ours. I put in a call to Phil a few days later, if I recall, and we chatted about his brand. The quality of the shirts are very high. He sent me a shirt and mailed another to Navy SEAL Perry Yee of Active Valor. Seeing that Perry looks like a stud and I look less the yoked-man we figured he’d be a great model for the shirts. You can see how the shirts fit on a guy with an athletic frame. Sweet t-shirt designs with some cool pop symbolism give the brand a cool look. Since the time it came in the mail I’ve been wearing my shirt everywhere. The shirts are soft without being too thin and they are not scratchy on the skin. The poly-cotton blend is a good way to go for guys who want to sweat, feel something soft on the skin, and that will dry relatively quick after a work-out. Their choice to go with an athletic-cut style of shirt was smart. They avoided using the cheap box cut t-shirt found among some low-end brands that end up shrinking after washings. I like how the shirts are soft enough without being fragile or transparent on the skin. Poorly made shirts eventually pill after multiple washings and wear.

I’m going to quote founder Phil here so you can get some background on their brand:

“This photo is the last picture I took from a military vehicle before I broke my back in a training accident in 2015. After an eight week recovery on the couch, unable to move, I went on to special operations assessment and selection. Through some of the worst pain I’ve ever endured, I made it to the other side of selection.

Shortly after I returned, a friend turned me onto Yoga to help cope with my incessant back pain. One day a week turned into two or three. My practice, combined with meditation and mindfulness, turned my entire life around and eased a great deal of my physical and mental trauma.

When I reached the other side, I wanted to tell the world. To share that experience with others, be they military, civilian, first responder, nine-to-fiver who needs the love and gratitude Yoga and mindfulness can provide.

That’s when the partnership formed between myself and my brother, now Co-founders of American Yogi. We talked about the need to raise awareness in the veteran community, provide a vehicle for healing, and remove the stigma from men who practice Yoga. The rest really just fell into place.

American Yogi started as a kitchen table idea that came to fruition. American Yogi is now being worn and followed by people all over the world.

What started as a shirt business has become a family. A community of likeminded individuals all seeking the same thing: peace.

Thank you for taking a moment to read a little bit about how we came about. We’re excited to help do for others what Yoga has done for us, and to embrace all the good that our practice holds.”

They offer t-shirts for men and women and the designs look good. I have a couple of favorites. The cobra, eagle, mountain, warrior looks dope. Phil noted on his website: To be specific – WHITE shirts don’t shrink, BLACK shirts shrink minimally, and GREY shirts shrink just a tad more. OD GREEN shirts are a tri-blend material (Rayon-added), so they’re soft and stretchy. Women’s tanks are true to size, and are all racerback for maximum freedom to move. V-necks run just a bit small. They have stickers too. All shipping is via USPS, weight-based.  Contact them for other shipping options. They have retail partners, across the country, growing daily. Contact them to find out if American Yogi is carried in a studio or gym in your area. They look like they are off to a good start. If you like what they do please support them and buy a shirt or two!

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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About The Author

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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