Yoga & Recovery

By Brett Miller
Transcend Yale House Manager

Being in recovery a little over a year now, I have really realized the willingness to let myself have new experiences in life. In active addiction, my daily habits consisted of behaviors that fed my disgusting lifestyle. So, for me to recover I had to incorporate healthy changes that I could see and feel begin to take shape. One of the early on practices was Yoga and I have stuck with it since my first class that I did in a detox facility located outside of Atlanta, Georgia. In the beginning, the positions feel extremely foreign and uncomfortable, however, newly in sobriety it can feel foreign and uncomfortable just to be in your own skin. I could already see how this was going to benefit my recovery. That really is why my love for yoga has evolved and is so strong because of all the similarities between Vinyasa and recovery. The word “vinyasa” can be translated as “arranging something in a peculiar way,” like yoga poses for example. In Vinyasa yoga classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next.

However, the beauty about Vinyasa, and yoga in general, is every individual has their own style and freedom to explore. There are various levels or difficulties where students increase their knowledge of posture and flow, as well as comprehensively building strength, flexibility, endurance, and breath. There are both physical and mental benefits. Physically, sweat releases toxins and re-energizes our bodies. Mentally, the synchronized breathing relaxes the chatter of the mind and helps to release any blockage of energy flow throughout our bodies. We hear so much about prayer & meditation in the recovery world. I never really understood the importance behind the 11th step until I found yoga. Never did I ever associate myself with the meditating type, I was far from it. I truly believe there are other males who struggle with the same problem. I want to offer a relatively simple solution to them or to you if you are reading this now. Get involved in a yoga practice of some sort. It does’t have to be extremely challenging, just a jumping off point. The truth is you may not like it at all. That is 100% okay, but at least you can say you gave yourself the opportunity to. Like I said in my opening sentence, allow yourself to have new experiences and try things that may be scary or foreign to what you know. The positive results that follow may surprise you.