Inner peace? Meditation? Slowing down my thoughts? Living in the moment? Five years ago, they were only dreams for me. The closest I got to calm was stoned and...
Inner peace? Meditation? Slowing down my thoughts? Living in the moment? Five years ago, they were only dreams for me.
The closest I got to calm was stoned and closest to meditation was nodding out during an opiate high. I wanted a life of purpose, joy, loving friends and family. But, if the pain and suffering of using hadn’t finally crushed the numbing effects of my addiction, I would never have found recovery. Thankfully they did and my new life through sobriety began.
Suddenly I was immersed in a 12- step recovery program, as well as therapy, support groups, lectures, nutritional groups, acupuncture, and unexpectedly— YOGA. I wasn’t immediately interested in it, I thought of it as some kind of fitness group for flexible people. In fact, it was almost forced on me. But, after a week, practicing yoga was where I started to experience serenity.
Yes yoga offers incredible physical benefits: weight loss, cardiovascular health, increased strength, flexibility, and relief from physical pain. For me that was the dessert. The meal that nourished and carried me through the day was the calming of my thoughts, ability to think clearly, make wise choices, and patience to abstain when thoughts of using haunted me as they often did.
As welcome as that was, I knew I was barely scratching the surface of the spiritual depth yoga offers. At nine months sober I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program and soon after discovered teaching yoga was what I was meant to do. At barely a year sober, I began teaching in yoga studios.
I wanted to share my discovery of yoga with friends who were also in recovery, but many couldn’t afford to pay the $20 fee per session. That fact inspired the most passion-driven service project of my life.
I created a donation-based addiction recovery yoga class at 7:30 p.m. on Friday nights (Modern Yoga in Scottsdale). There were no fees and donations were used to supply participants with mats, water, and other supplies people new to yoga often don’t have.
Then something remarkable happened. The class started growing and drawing attention. Ashley Zettler, the owner of Sweatshop on Central in Phoenix, offered space and a second class was born. Soon after we started a third class in South Phoenix at Grateful Yogini giving us three locations. Mats and water continue to be free. These classes are one of the many bright spots in my life, and wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the generosity of studio owners John and Nicole Salisbury of Modern Yoga, Ashley Zettler of Sweatshop on Central, and Gretchen Seeck of Grateful Yogini.
The other factor driving the program’s success is need. A drug and alcohol epidemic is sweeping our country. Many people are suffering and looking for help.
People, myself included, often come into recovery after years — possibly decades of abusing their minds and bodies. That’s why I came up with a yoga modality to aid in detoxifying the body. Stretching muscles, burning fat, and compressing internal organs like the liver, helps release toxins and byproducts that are stored to help participants recovery physically and spiritually.
That modality is the basis of a company I created last year, Spiritually Fit LLC and its non-profit sister company, Spiritually Fit Recovery, Inc. The companies are making two unique contributions that are expanding access to yoga for recovery. First, they are training teachers in yoga for recovery, which will, in addition to increasing the number of available classes, create a career path for people in recovery.
Second, in response to an increasing number of inquiries from recovery treatment centers in the Valley, the companies are helping to make yoga for recovery an integral part of therapeutic programs.
We offer a staff of expert instructors who specialize in meeting students and patients at their point of need. We greet them, talk and learn their stories, creating a connection that helps clients feel better and detox more quickly. They also acquire the gift of yoga and meditation tools and practices that help in recovery after they leave treatment and for the rest of their lives. We see clients through every stage of their recovery; from detox to inpatient, from inpatient to aftercare, and then for the rest of their lives. Addiction is a disease of the body, the mind, and the spirit. Yoga can be an invaluable part of the solution. And I’d like to invite you to be part of that effort in which I feel so honored to play a role.
If you’re in recovery and are interested in exploring the gifts of yoga, come to one of our yoga for recovery classes:
- Fridays, 7:30 pm at Modern Yoga, Scottsdale
- Saturdays, 5:00 pm at Sweatshop Central, Phoenix
- Sundays, 4:00 pm at Grateful Yogini, South Phoenix
If you know someone who you think would benefit, please refer them. If you can help financially, consider making a donation so we can offer scholarships to those in the greatest need and help them start and maintain their practice of yoga.
I’m a grateful addict who has found a mission, a purpose, and passion. Please help me help others. Recovery is possible for anyone — no matter how low or how high their bottom may be.
Contact me at 402.982.9571 [email protected]