Sonya Quijada served as one of the few women paratroopers of the 82d Airborne Division. She was the first female honor graduate of the Advanced Airborne Jumpmaster School, in 1989. During her 28 years of Army duty, she was a leader in the Signal Corps, and then selected by the Special Operations Command to serve in the intelligence community.
Her life-changing assignment came from the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute, and she subsequently became a Master Resilience Trainer, in the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program, helping Soldiers and executive leaders foster better relationships with themselves, their teammates, and family members. With her college foundation in biology and neuroscience studies, plus 20 years of yoga and mindfulness practices, Sonya became a certified wellness coach.
She is trained in iRest Yoga Nidra healing guided meditation for anxiety, stress, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Women Fitness president, Namita Nayyar, got in touch with Sonya Quijada, Q Wellness, Certified Wellness Instructor as a part of the upcoming International Yoga Day (21 June 2022) to answer questions on the healing power of Yoga Nidra.
You were the first female honor graduate of the Advanced Airborne Jumpmaster School, in 1989. What all inspired you to join the U.S. Army?
Truthfully, I didn’t know enough when I first joined the Army to claim I was inspired – I had joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in the spring of freshman year, as a way to pay for university. I was planning to be a neuroscientist in life. But, shortly after I signed up, the detachment sent me to Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, to learn how to exit aircraft in flight with static line parachutes.
I turned 18 while I was there, two weeks into the training. And, after successfully completing the five jumps, I returned to my ROTC headquarters very motivated to “be all I could be.” It turned out that I did very well, and I was selected as the Cadet of the Year for my region, which meant I was commissioned into the active component, instead of the reserve component, so I didn’t go to Johns Hopkins to become a neuroscientist. Instead, I became a paratrooper with the mighty 82nd Airborne Division. And that was only the beginning!
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