When we are in active addiction – whether to one or more substances, to people or to certain behaviors – we are disconnected. We are numb, dull. We distract ourselves from ourselves. We often choose the opposite of connection: we isolate. We feel alone, ashamed, guilty. Additionally, our bodies may have experienced trauma and don't feel like a safe place to be.
The word “yoga” means “to yoke" or "union.”
Yoga encourages us to seek union with our bodies, with our breath, with ourselves -- to re-connect. Yoga is the practice of re-connection, and re-connection is essential to recovery.
When we come to the mat, we leave aside smartphones, jobs, substances and other physical distractions. It is a place to become present and mindful and a place to create awareness of our bodies. We can’t always change what is happening in our life around us, but we can change our bodies and our breath and then things shift: perhaps our body feels calmer, our mind gets quieter – even if just for a moment at the beginning...then eventually following us into our lives off of the mat.
As we become more aware and present with our physical, energetic and emotional selves, we learn how to feel again. This is a very vulnerable place to be for those of us who have spent years trying not to feel. But persistence leads to the discovery that we will survive (and appreciate) feeling our feelings.
While yoga teaches us to re-connect, it also teaches us how to let go. Our biology is our biography: our experiences -- the good and the bad -- are stored in our bodies. Emotions and feelings that we don’t want to deal with are nonetheless present. Yogini Nikki Myers calls this, “the issues in our tissues.” This helps explain sudden feelings of anger, fear or sadness that you may experience while you are practicing asana: as we let go of tension in the body and find space in our muscles, we are also accessing letting go of emotions.
Yoga and its ability to help us re-connect and to let go, encourages and supports a recovery journey. Keep practicing.
About Taryn Strong
Taryn Strong (RYT) is grateful to be in recovery from drug addiction, self-harm, disordered eating and codependency. She and her mom created She Recovers -- a popular online and in-real-life recovery community. Founded in 2011, She Recovers is now the largest female cyber-recovery community in North America. Her “Yoga for Recovery” program integrates yoga + meditation + spirituality with recovery principles from a wide variety of pathways. A yoga teacher since 2007, Taryn received her “Yoga of Recovery” certification in 2011 and her “Yoga for Trauma” certification in 2014. For more about Taryn’s Yoga for Recovery program, including retreats, visit Facebook: She Recovers and Insta/Snap: tarynstrong