Timothy Wilson is a picture of peace and tranquillity when he’s teaching yoga in Kings Park, but just a few years ago he was dodging bullets in Afghanistan.
Mr Wilson, 25, was a rifleman in the British Army, a member of the 16th Air Assault Brigade deployed to Helmand province.
He arrived in 2010, tasked with taking land from the Taliban and providing sustainable basics for the oppressed Afghan people.
The Irish-born Mt Lawley man has never spoken publicly about his time in Afghanistan and there are some things he prefers not to talk about.
But he gave The West Australian a vivid account of a close shave that left a hole in the shamrock on his helmet.
His team was walking through a river to avoid land mines when machinegun fire churned the water ahead of them.
They were walking into an ambush and a Taliban sniper had Mr Wilson in his sights.
“As I jumped to my right, I saw a shadow above me and just had enough time to bury my head in my shoulder,” Mr Wilson said.
“You usually hear a whiz and then a crack from bullets, but I heard a whiz and a thump, and that was the bullet hitting my helmet. It spun me to the left and I saw the soldier next to me firing a rocket up at the building.
“All I saw was that big white light from the rocket and as I fell backwards into the river it was the most surreal feeling of something wrapping around me.
“It was as if that moment was death. It felt like I had died.”
Timothy Wilson, the soldier
Mr Wilson wasn’t dead but he had been extremely lucky to survive, a narrow escape he attributes to the new-generation helmet he was wearing at the time. The bullet entered through the front left of his helmet and sliced through the shamrock badge he wore with pride, an Irish symbol of good luck.
His team leader thought he had been shot in the head when he saw the hole in his helmet, but his only complaint was a concussion.
Mr Wilson left the army in 2012, confident Helmand province had changed for the better.
“I left the army because nothing gives you a wake-up call like a bullet to the head,” he said.
“I realised that if I was going to die for any cause, then I needed to go and live a little first.
“You see death and you see how quickly something so full of life can be almost instantly full of nothing through the actions of another man.
“You realise how important it is not just to take every day as it comes, but to jump into every day because you don’t know if it could be your last.”
He went travelling for a year and discovered yoga along the way before settling in Perth.
After returning from a recent training trip to India, he started a business called LoveYogaPerth.
Mr Wilson likens human minds to “snow globes that have been shaken up”, and says yoga addresses the mental side of health which is often neglected.
“I found yoga and it was very calming and relaxing for me. It was almost like hitting a switch,” he said.
“I’ve been physically healthy all my life but when I found yoga, I realised I had to think about my mental and spiritual health, too.”