Articles

Yoga and Recovery

Author: Craig Edward McRae

Yoga and 12 step recovery are both spiritual paths which have many similarities.  Recovery focuses on emotional and spiritual recovery by what is labeled ¨cleaning house¨ , getting rid of all emotional baggage like resentment, guilt, shame, etc.  Recovery also trys to get the recovering person to find faith in something other than themselves, as the alcoholic is very self centered and have a huge ego.  Recovery is very much like Yoga in that faith can be in anything, it doesn{t have to a conscious god but can be mother earth or cosmic energy or even the power of the group of people attending 12 step meetings.  I believe Yoga can help the recovering person tremendously on many levels. Typically a person entering recovery is very broken and in a lot of pain(emotionally). Physically and mentally unbalanced, spiritually broken.  Many are suicidal and have no hope.  They have accumulated so much baggage, they have stuffed so many emotions. They are in so much pain.  Yoga is such a great complement to this with the asanas and pranayama for relaxations, removing stress and a spiritual path of getting back to balance, back to health. The different chakras relate directly to all the emotional baggage the recovery person is burdered with.  Working the 12 step program and integrating Yoga, especially with a focus on unblocking the chakras would be so beneficial to the recovering person. Recovery persons typically have a problem acquiring faith, as many have come from religious backgrounds with condemning gods and guilt building dogmas.  Any mention of spirituality immediately gets their defences up.  I believe Yoga may be a path to give these persons the faith they require, as after doing an asana, pranayam class, with a some omka chanting at the end ,   they may feel some serenity, peace, joy, something they have never felt before or in a long time and they may come to believe … in something.  Since Yoga is a science, it would also attract the intellectuals who  believe in science and not religion.   The reason this faith is so important, is that some of the steps required to clean house have so much fear, that without faith one cannot fully complete them alone.  Imagine confessing every sin, or making amends to everyone in your lifetime you have wronged, and I am talking about direct amends, ie. Face to face.    The recovering person cannot make it long term without working the steps and cleaning house, the person may stay abstinent from their addiction but they will not be happy. The analogy is : imagine a person standing at a stove with their hand on the hot element.  The element represents the emotional baggage(shame, guild, resentments) in the persons life, when they enter recovery it is on high, they have to use their addiction to get rid of the pain, so when they stop their addictive behaviours, the pain remains, so without removing the source of the pain the person will never fully recover.   A process of turning down the heat on that element is essential with the goal to eventually turn it off.  This is a process of action: forgiveness, confession, apologies, amends and most important building hope, without hope they have no motivation.  The typical challenges in recovery are:  getting physically detoxed and healthy,  managing all  the emotions when they start surfacing,  building a new life that minimizes the accumulation of more emotional baggage,  building hope(most important), finally starting the process of removing all the baggage through 12 step work.  Do you see how closely these phases relate to Yoga?  These are all challenges we face in yoga as well.   The other thing in recovery that is very important is selfless service.  It is a huge part of recovery, it keeps the recovering person active and around positive people, helping newcomers helps the newcomer as much as the recovering person. The recovering person is reminded of where they were not so long ago, spiritually, emotionally broken. This gives them gratefulness, hope and shows them how far they have come.  It also counters their self centered tendencies.  This service is very similar to the Karma yoga principle.   In summary, I would say the 164 pages in the original Alcoholics Anonymous describes 12 steps to freedom and spiritual awakening and encompasses mental, emotional, spiritual development.   The yogic path is also a path to freedom and spiritual awakening and is all encompassing with physical, mental, spiritual development.  I would think integrating the 2 paths would be beneficial to any recovering person.

I would think the following saying from recovery may equally apply in Yoga

The journey will be the easiest and hardest thing you will ever do.

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Village Talwade, Trimbak, Nasik
Maharashtra,India.

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Yoga Vidya Dham, Kaivalya Nagari,
College Road, Nashik - 422005.
Maharashtra, India.

Phone - +91-9822770727 (for courses in ENGLISH)

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(Please call during 9.00 AM to 5 PM Indian Time)

E-mail - yoga@yogapoint.co or yogapoint108@gmail.com

YOGA VIDYA GURUKUL

Village Talwade, Trimbak, Nasik
Maharashtra,India.

Phone - +91-9822770727

E-mail - yoga@yogapoint.com or yogapoint108@gmail.com

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