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'Restorative Yoga' Helps Active Firefighters Stay Relaxed

 Felecia Kutch, and her husband Kenny, practice restorative yoga, May 18.
Restorative Yoga Classes for Firefighters
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RED HOOK — Whenever firefighter Kenny Kutch is in a high-stress situation, he relies on four years of yoga to help him breathe.

Like a boxer, exhaling with every punch, Kutch remembers to breath in deeply and out through his nose, if he feels winded or his heart rate is high, he said.

“That lowers your blood pressure,” he said.

Kutch, who works out of Ladder 105 at 494 Dean St., began to practice yoga when his wife, Felecia, introduced him to “restorative yoga,” that both is healing and soothing.

Restorative yoga is helpful for both retired and active firefighters, said Felecia, 32, who teaches the modified vinyasa yoga to retired FDNY members and their wives at Friends of Firefighters, a Red Hook nonprofit organization. It increases circulation in the older generation and releasing tension in physically active firemen.

“I just try to keep it low-intensity and not intimidating” by engaging the breathing and altering the poses, she said.

But Kutch, a Brooklyn firefighter, wasn’t always a believer in breathing exercises and restorative poses. Before the Carroll Gardens couple got married five years ago, Kutch’s regimen consisted primarily of gym workouts.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said, adding that exercise to him was to “play sports and throw weights.”

Most people think it’s only stretching and assume that yoga poses require a lot of flexibility, he said.

“That’s just everyone’s first reaction.”

But Kutch has found that practicing yoga is “absolutely conducive” to building stamina and loosening tight muscles that weight lifting only aggravates.

“You’re stretching and exerting muscles at the same time,” said Kutch.  “You can go in your own direction with it.”