6 Ways Yoga Has Enhanced My Recovery Path

 

*This week I have asked my Friend, Mentor, and all around expert on Yoga and Recovery. To share with us some of her thoughts regarding the two. Here with a brilliant piece the Incredibly Talented Jen Yockey!

By: Jen Yockey

My last drink/drug was March 8, 2009.  Since that time my recovery journey has taken many roads.  Unlike most of my adult life, I listened to my inner dialogue (my Soul voice, if you will) when it was “telling me” I needed something different, needed something else, needed something “in addition to”.

In the Spring of 2014, that inner dialogue was not whispering.  It was shouting that something had to change.  This was scary and a bit unnerving as I had put ALL my eggs in the 12-step basket…The people, rooms, and meetings saved my life.  And now there was a shift… and full disclosure, it wasn’t popular.  I have since found out that I am not the only one that has had this “shift”.  Additionally, I have come to know that there are MANY paths to living (thriving) in one’s life without numbing out with substance (or anything else for that matter; Busyness, Netflix, Shopping, Co-dependence, Sex, Food, Technology…} and without a 12 step program.

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I went to my first yoga class in May of 2014 and was FLOORED that the “itty bitty shitty committee” could not convene while I was practicing yoga.  I was AMAZED that as I walked to my car, I was at peace.  Now, that peace only lasted until I got home and my 3-year-old (who hadn’t napped and was hungry) was losing his mind… but there was enough peace that I wanted to go back. And so I did… again and again.

Yoga classes are like a pair of jeans or swimming suit (ladies, you KNOW what I mean).  You have to try on 5,000,000 before you find the right one… and then you buy 10!

Over the last three years, I have taken hundreds of classes, courses, workshops and received multiple certifications.  Here are my takeaways:

  1. I was never breathing.  I don’t know how I have lived as long as I have without KNOWING how to breathe.  It’s shocking, really.  Medical science says that when you hold your breath (among other bad side effects) you are no longer able to access your higher function of reasoning and decision making. {Which is why you sometimes see adults acting like enraged toddlers}.  Learn to breathe.  Be open to ALL types of breath work.  Your body, mind, and EGO will thank you.
  2. Speaking of EGO Kundalini Yoga will, without a doubt, make you feel INCREDIBLY FREE. The catch?  Leave your ego at the door.  Kundalini yoga is an experience, not a class.  If you are like me, you will go through an entire array of emotions during the 90 minutes.  You will swear (in the first 20 minutes) you will NEVER participate in Kundalini again.  And then you will find yourself signing up for a 10 class pack because you want to FEEL the freedom AGAIN & AGAIN.  It is truly *that* amazing.  Find a Kundalini class, grab a friend and GO. You will not regret it.
  3. Restorative Yoga- The best sleep I have ever had are after a restorative yoga class. I mean, you wouldn’t think so because there is ZERO physical exertion during the class.  You are using a minimum of 5 props and holding shapes for 10 minutes.  The class is 60 to 90 minutes and you are in Savasana (lying on your back with a blanket over you for 10 of those minutes).  I love these classes because there is ALWAYS a significant difference between when I arrive and when I leave.  I love when the teacher curates a beautiful playlist, reads poetry and incorporates some essential oils.  The experience is decadent. And like most things that I do for myself, I try to talk myself out of it… I don’t have time, I am too busy, this really isn’t the right day; blah. blah. blah.  GO!
  4. Yin- (the opposite of YANG). Yin is THE BEST for my mind and Soul… and my body gets the benefit of a good stretch, too.  Yin is a passive yoga practice (like restorative but without the props).  The idea behind yin is to stress (yes, stress) the connective tissue and fascia… so there is a bit of uncomfortable-ness… which is BRILLIANT because you get to practice shutting the itty bitty shitty committee up!  You get to practice surrender.  You get to practice letting go.  You get to practice acceptance.  You get to practice (in real time) how NOT to resist.  Yin is not only my favorite class to take but also to teach.  The mind/body connection is super powerful and extremely healing.
  5. YOUR mat, YOUR practice. Unlike competitive sports that I have played in the past, yoga classes give me (and you) an option to just be still and practice by just lying on the mat.  Simply by being on your mat, you are practicing yoga.  If all you can do is lie there on your back in Savasana or curl up into Child’s Pose, that is perfectly fine.  Showing up is the most important thing. Yoga isn’t a competition.  It’s not about handstands and getting your legs behind your head.  (and if those are the classes you are finding, you need to look elsewhere.)  Yoga is about finding a connection with and learning to love YOU.
  6. Connection- Yoga has cultivated a connection with not only myself but with other like-minded people. It has brought me to a group of people that are authentic, vulnerable, fun, silly, willing, open-hearted, community-minded and service oriented.  There are those that go to class to just look good in their yoga pants… and that’s great, {for them}.  For me, I look for the helpers and the givers.  And there are always those.

I will leave you with a poem that sums up what yoga is REALLY about.  Namaste.

The yoga pose is not the goal.

Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal.

The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are.

The goal is to love, well… You.

Come to your yoga mat to feel; not to accomplish.

Shift your focus and your heart will grow.

~ Rachel Brathen

Jennifer Yockey

Coach. Mentor. Advocate.

Owner, Gather:: a movement & wellness studio

Founder, Recover You

Read: The Blog

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