Fant lived with chronic pain. He underwent no less than seven surgeries to the neck, back and shoulders. He had spent thousands of hours in military helicopters wearing heavy gear. The jarring and jumping had taken a toll on his spine. His daily existence consisted of waking up in the morning, dragging himself to the mailbox to collect the new shipment of medications sent by the VA and then crawling to the couch in a drug-induced stupor. "I was miserable," Fant said. "I wasn't a functioning human being. I wasn't contributing to society in any way. Straight up not fit to be around. I was like a wounded animal that was in a corner so everyone that approached me in that corner, I wanted to strike out at them, which made me feel worse."
One day he woke up on the bedroom floor with paramedics standing over him. Fant had had a seizure. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors determined that he was over-medicated, chronically stressed, fatigued and malnourished. The VA's answer: change the medicine. That was the moment Fant began to change his life for the better. He walked out of the outpatient clinic and never went back. "I had made up my mind that the meds were not the answer," Fant said. "I knew there had to be something different." He turned to yoga and meditation, immersing himself in a journey of self-exploration through breath work and the physical and spiritual practice of yoga.
"I just remember the first class being very nervous and not knowing what to expect but the contrast from the beginning to when I left was so great," Fant said. "There was something there that I needed more of." He had only a vague understanding of the ancient practice. Fant began to educate himself about yoga, absorbing as much information from books, DVDs and teachers.
His journey to health and reclaiming his life was not easy. In the beginning, he had a hard time sitting still for meditation; he was in so much pain. But in time, Fant discovered the proper balance between strength and flexibility. He began to move with more ease. He kept up with classes and was usually the only man in class. Yoga began to alleviate the physical symptoms. He found a new sense of equanimity and contentment.
Five years later Fant is a serious yogi. His physical transformation is startling. His weight dropped from nearly 250 pounds into a lean 170 pound physique. The weight loss has happened organically; he has done no fad diets, but has become a more sensible eater. He avoids processed foods and shuns alcohol. He has no trouble sleeping. The emotional issues that once crippled him no longer torment him.
Additionally, Fant discovered the empowerment that comes with yoga inversions and arm balances, such as handstands. "Yoga is about so much more than handstands but to me the handstand is a turbo-charged meditation," said Fant, who has progressed to one-arm handstands. "However many seconds, nothing else can be going on in your life in that time period. If you don't have 100 percent focus, anything else comes into your mind in that time period, you are going to lose it."
To his continuing credit, Fant's days begin and end with Yoga.