Sunday, September 04, 2016

Yoga and Recovery

Throughout my years of recovery I have always had a physical practice: I jogged, danced, swam, did aerobics and I walked, and walked and walked. I grew up doing yoga—My mother was a Lilias fan (the television yoga teacher) and we did yoga on the living room floor after school.

So it took me years to discover/rediscover yoga within my recovery. I mean, I had to let go of that old home-grown stuff right? Except that my mother, in addition to her Dexedrine habit, had a yoga habit too. (Yes, life and recovery have a lot of gray, and a lot of contradictions.) 

So I walked away and then I came back. 

I came back to yoga at about my 4th year of recovery. My friend Hilary was taking yoga
classes in our Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood and invited me. I went along and had some big surprises. This yoga teacher—Josephine—was doing some things that I had not seen before: she stopped after every couple of postures and invited us to close our eyes and “go inside”. Yikes—I was great at balance and stretch and the choreography but not so good at the “go inside” part. Yes, early recovery.

But on those Thursday nights I slept better and Fridays at work were always good, and when I went to therapy I talked about what I saw and heard when did “go inside” at yoga class.

Our yoga teacher would occasionally cancel her class to go to the Berkshires to study with her teacher. And that was news too—that yoga teachers had teachers, just like therapists had supervisors. It made sense. And when Josephine came back to Baltimore, each time she was a better teacher and our classes went deeper and there were new things to learn and try.

Flash forward thirty years. I learned that the place in the Berkshires was the Kripalu Yoga Center. I moved to Albany, New York and discovered that Kripalu Center was just a short drive away. I began to go there as a tourist—for classes and workshops and retreats. I loved it, and the yoga of years before, and the newer practice began to click.

Then this year I took a big—seemingly confusing—but inevitable step—I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu. And after nine incredible, scary, revealing, challenging and invigorating weeks I received my certification as a Registered Yoga Teacher.

I never saw that coming, just as I never saw a happy marriage coming, or a career that includes managing a nonprofit and writing three books, and three blogs. That’s the beauty of recovery, and a little bit of what we mean when we say, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens.” 

And now yoga is a central part of my recovery, and day-by-day they are integrated.

I see all the beautiful pictures that yogi’s post of elegant, elastic poses in nature—images on
the beach in tights and tanks, and balancing on one foot. And they do inspire me. But today I know that my truly powerful yoga poses are the pictures of me in a dress and blazer, balancing work and writing, and being stretched between marriage and the podium. That’s where I see the deepest results of my yoga—not on the mat, but deeply engaged in a teetering, challenging life. And I am so grateful.


Unknown said...

I so love this...I often think about you and how much I learned. I loved our writing class. Ruth

KBurke said...

Congratulations... on your teacher certification, on your recovery, on working, writing and life, and most especially on the balance and the harmony of it all!