From police chief to yoga practitioner

Jan 06 2016 | 01:21 AM

By Rose Sgarlato
Jan Wright has parlayed his 25 years of law enforcement into a new career — yoga. The retired Hamburg Police Department chief draws on his experience of dealing with people to inspire others through practicing yoga.

On Sunday, Jan.17, at Yoga Youniverse in Sparta, Wright will present a new concept in a two-hour motivational workshop Unleashing Your Warrior Spirit Through Yoga.

Wright, an avid marathoner, hiker and surfer, discovered yoga accidentally while doing the PX90 exercise regime at home.

“When I got to the yoga portion, I kept coming back to it," he said. "Yoga works strength, balance and coordination at the same time. It’s simply challenging. You don’t need anything other than the floor.”

Wright eventually left the comfort of his television screen and took his first class at his hometown YMCA in Hardyston. Wright delved further seeking out Yoga Impact, a non-profit organization that extends yoga to people in homeless shelters, jails and drug rehabilitation program. Through Yoga Impact, Wright received his E-RYT, Experienced Registered Yoga Training certificate.

In exchange for the training, Wright taught at various places to which Yoga Impact reaches out.

“One of the first classes I taught was in an inner city drug and alcohol rehabilitation center,” he said. “It was very rewarding, and after I finished the class, they asked if I would be returning.”

When Wright retired in 2012, he began to teach yoga full-time at multiple places in Morris and Sussex County. And one day a week, he is also a firearms instructor for law enforcement shooting.

But Wright says the dichotomy of yoga and firearms is a driving force and not a deterrent. “I find them similar," he said. "When I teach my firearms training, I tell them to let go. People are too concerned with the outcome. In yoga, where you are now is where you are today.”

He goes on to say that young police officers are too concerned with failure. Unleashing the warrior within, named after the quintessential warrior pose identifies with inner strength and reaching your potential. It is this mantra that Wright talks about while moving through various yoga postures.

“People are afraid of failing. If you want to increase your success rate, double your failures,” said Wright.

For the past six years, Wright has also taught a college foundations class at Sussex County Community College for freshmen. The core curriculum is following what’s good for you to achieve success.

The workshop is open to beginners and all levels of yoga students. Wright encourages people who have never done yoga to try the class. The workshop will focus on breathing and visualization techniques to achieve goals.

“It’s about breaking through limited beliefs and using the physical practice of yoga to get you there,” said Wright. People tell themselves they can’t do something. If you form an action plan, you can get there.”

This is the first time Wright is combining his inspirational concepts with yoga in the form of a workshop. He said he keeps it light and fun and works very well with people who have never done yoga.

“It’s an original idea — sort of like a yoga class meets Tony Roberts.”

“Unleashing Your Warrior Spirit Through Yoga.” Jan. 17 at 12 p.m. at Yoga Youniverse, 191 Woodport Road, Sparta. Advanced registration, $30; at the door $35.To register for the workshop go to or or call Yoga Youniverse at 973-494-6487.