For me, making the decision to enter a 12-step recovery program was not easy. Taking a good, long, hard, solid look at who I had become, what I had done in the past and who I had hurt in my life was excruciating.
But "getting honest," as they say in the program, is the only way to begin self-acceptance. And because every alcoholic or addict thinks he or she is somehow unique, so different from everyone else, discovering that I'm not as special as I thought was quite literally sobering. I celebrated nine years of sobriety in September.
Yoga also re-entered my life during my recovery. I always knew there was a person "trapped" beneath the surface, plunged to the bottom of a bottle and held prisoner by my own selfish actions. Taking up the practice again, years after I'd abandoned it, began to peel back the layers of illusion.
When I began my journey of self-acceptance and self-knowledge I had to turn myself inward and dig through all the muck and mud. I had to learn to abolish negative thoughts and acts, learn to accept my faults and defects and either mend them or rise above them.
I had to learn that to be teachable a mind has to be open to possibilities, ideas and thoughts it previously slammed the door on. I had to learn that the happiness, the joy, the life I had been searching for and that I was so certain didn't exist was in fact within me.
Combining recovery with yoga allows a way to reconnect with our bodies through focused movement. In the throes of addiction, gratitude and awareness are lost. Spirits are torn from their bearings and battered on addiction's rocky ground. Movement, intention and a grateful heart make the reparations needed to not only continue the journey, but to meet obstacles head-on.
Nikki Myers is an Indiana yoga instructor who developed a program called Y12SR, which stands for Yoga 12 Step Recovery. It's an adjunct to traditional 12-step meetings and an approach to recovery that encompasses the teachings of both. She likens the recovery process to a ship that has met turbulent waters and capsized. The goal is to set the ship upright, flush out the muck and get ready to sail again — but with tools to make the journey safely and successfully.
Y12SR is a way to incorporate physical movement alongside spiritual awakening. Yoga practice begins the process of wringing out whatever old traumas and abuses we are clinging to, a way to clean the ship for sail. Navigation becomes less treacherous when spiritual principles have our backs.
No one said it would be easy. But with the powerful messages shared by both the 12 steps and yoga, we can start that transformation process. We can recover, one day at a time.
Diana Reed is a yoga teacher, writer and co-owner of Gaya Jyoti Yoga in Hernando County. She can be reached at (352) 610-1083 or gayajyotiyoga.com.