Aside from providing Sober College clients with a gym membership, the treatment center also encourages clients to participate in weekly yoga sessions with its very own yoga instructor, Elizabeth.
As we come to learn in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, the disease of addiction is composed of three parts: A physical allergy to drugs or alcohol, a mental obsession to continue using and a spiritual malady which left us feeling empty inside. As a result, working a program of recovery that encompasses a solution to each of these components is important in nurturing addicts and alcoholics back to a healthy state. By participating in yoga, clients are given the opportunity to begin the journey of recovery in each of the areas affected by their addictions.
Yoga targets the mind, body and spirit. It seeks to form a connection between each of these parts and teaches us to use each part together. It helps us to find the balance we lost in our active addictions, and it helps us learn to use our minds and bodies in perfect harmony.
As I sat watching the clients of one of the houses practicing yoga, I was able to participate in the session from a perspective entirely new to me – that of an observer instead of a participant. I watched as the instructor went through breathing exercises, stretches and for the brave, poses that allowed the clients to test their strength and balance.
One client who had been in Sober College for three months spoke with me afterwards about his experience with yoga. He explained how yoga had benefited him over the course of his stay. “I’ve learned to control my breathing, especially in situations when I’m feeling emotional. It helps me calm down.” He went on to say, “I’ve gained a lot of flexibility and yoga has encouraged me to continue to get stronger…to live a healthy life.”
While lost in our addictions, many of us used in order to take ourselves out of the moment: To forget about our trials and tribulations and to ignore them until we absolutely had to deal with them. Yoga helps to reverse this habit by forcing participants to be mindful of everything in the present: To focus on the things we take for granted, like breathing for example.
Further, yoga helps us get in touch with our spiritual side. One important aspect of yoga is meditation. Through mindful meditation, clients are given the chance to get in touch with their inner beings, and to find peace despite whatever chaos may be going on in their lives.
In my own journey through recovery, I have found that mindfulness is the key to my spirituality. I have found that in my addiction, I was searching for something that I could never find. I sought to fill a hole in my life with the wrong puzzle piece, which ultimately led to everything being misshapen and off balance. I was searching for some kind of connection, and I longed to feel whole. On my journey to recovery, I have found that the connection between mind and body is just as important as the one we hold with our spirituality.