15 Nov 3 Tips for Incorporating Yoga into Your Recovery Journey
Yoga has been crucial to my path of recovery. Therapy, meditation, support groups, mindfulness and hypnosis, these strategies helped as well. But there’s nothing like holding your entire body weight on your two big toes to get you out of your head and into your body.
Are you one of the tens of millions of people around the world recovering from some kind of illness? Consider these three tips for incorporating yoga into your healing journey. They come from this new book,365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat: A Year in Hot Yoga
1. Let go of judgment.
Yoga changed my body and mind, but more importantly, it changed my relationship with my body and mind.
That’s the practice. In those little moments when we feel afraid and insecure and limited, we refuse to allow judgment to add fuel to the fire of our emotions. Because that only damages the relationship with ourselves further. Judging ourselves for having a problem can actually be worse than the problem itself.
Students make mistakes in postures every class. And in the name of having high standards, the temptation is to berate our bodies for not doing things right. Because we haven’t lived up to our own demands on ourselves.
Listen leg, we had a deal. I know you can rotate ninety degrees. You did it yesterday. What’s your problem?
However, instead of turning on the man in mirror in harsh judgment, the breath takes over. The muscles behind the eyes relax. We practice softening to the pain rather than tensing up around it. And that allows us to make progress in our journey to freedom.
As the recovery mantra goes, we attempt to live our lives in this manner, and we attempt to have compassion for ourselves myself when we don’t.
That’s the beauty of yoga. Surrendering. Facing reality and transforming our relationship to it.
Even if there is always a judgmental axe ready to fall.
2. Rescue yourself for a change.
Some people are addicted to being rescuers. Their drug of choice is the euphoric experience of pulling someone into a lifeboat.
The irony, of course, is that the people they ‘save’ never make it to shore. They always end up back in the water. Because deep down, they don’t really want to be saved. That would mean they’d actually have to change, take responsibility, and surrender their victim position.
One of my yoga instructors also works as sponsor for alcoholics in the twelve step program. She often gets phone calls, sometimes very late at night, from people in recovery who have a difficult time changing.
But she often won’t say a word in response. Her job isn’t to rescue people; her job is to listen to them. In fact, she has a great mantra that I try to practice myself:
Sometimes you can’t get people to listen to you until you stop talking.
And so, if there’s a person in your life for whom you’re tired of being an unpaid, part time therapist, set the boundary of silence. Try not rescuing them and see what happens.
Maybe they’ll change on their own clock. Remember, you can’t take people where they don’t want to go
3. Reject the concept of not-enough
Hot yoga isn’t a twelve-step program, it’s a twenty-six step program—one for each pose.
And not unlike mainstream recovery work, it’s a very human, vulnerable and useful vehicle for overcoming addiction and compulsion
Personally, yoga has done wonders for my own issues. For example, one of the harsh realities of being a workaholic is not understanding the concept of ‘enough’. There is no boundary.
Meanwhile, the people you care about most are left with crumbs. Remains of the day that trickle down your collar.
But yoga is a practice that schools you in the concept of enough. You get on the mat and do the postures and listen to your body, and it will tell you exactly when to sit out, when to step up, when to take a drink, and when to speedwalk out of the room and make a bee line to the toilet because you ate at that taco truck during lunch.
Not at a joke. That really happened to me. Almost didn’t make it.
But all bodily humor aside, the goal is learning how much is enough. And as we learn how much is enough in the yoga room, we also learn how much is enough in other areas of life. We grow able to pause for savasana, thank ourselves for our practice, and step away until the next time.
Get your copy now of 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat: A Year in Hot Yoga!