This EJ article about Amy Winehouse in the wake of her death got me to thinking about yoga and addiction. Addiction is definitely a plague of this age. So many people are trying to escape their pain (the pain of separation from your True Self – Sat Nam – Divine.) and so we turn to all sorts of crazy means to try to “escape” and obliterate our pain, only to get more entrenched in it all!
So where does yoga come into this? Well, yoga can be a powerfully transformative and healing practice (but you already know that by now, I bet, especially if you’ve been reading this blog!).
Dedicated practice of yoga can definitely alter your consciousness, change your habits and encourage you to make healthier choices. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices are becoming more and more accepted as valid treatment tools by medical authorities (not that I need some doctor’s approval to know what’s good for me!) and are now taught in many rehabs and treatments centers.
Back in the 70’s, Yogi Bhajan created a system for healing addictions and had a thriving clinic in AZ. His treatment methods were simple but hugely effective: healthy diet, bodywork, yoga and meditation.
I know that without yoga I would not the healthy, sober person that I am today. Kundalini Yoga gave me an alternative to getting high. And my dedication to morning Mysore keeps me clear because I know that a hung-over Ashtanga practice would be absolutely MISERABLE.
In regards to addictions such as eating disorders, I know yoga has been a profound recovery tool for many people on their journey towards a place of more SELF-LOVE and ACCEPTANCE.
I also believe that, unfortunately, yoga can also be used as simply another way to try to enforce control and self-punishment – so often the themes/root issues behind many eating disorders. I really respect Tias Little for bringing this issue to light (definitely not a pretty topic, one that most rose-colored-glasses-adorned people do not want to look at) in this EJ post: Anorexia and Yoga on the Runway.
I know that in my past (and even still sometimes on not so good days) I’ve been distracted in my practice by other women’s bodies, or by mirrors (ugh! I hate practicing in a studio with mirrors!). There was a time when I would leave yoga class feeling even worse about myself because I spent the whole time consumed by jealousy of the skinny girl in the shorts and sports bra next to me, or what have you. All I did was judge myself and others fiercely. Yoga became just about exercise, about being thin and having a nice butt. No citta-vrtti nirodhah happening there!
But as I’ve come to a healthier place (through so many means including yoga…you see, like most things, it can go both ways) that is no longer the case (Thank you oh Beautiful Universe!!!!!) Now my yoga practice makes me feel light, invigorated and free, strong and empowered (even on jiggly-butt days!).
Has yoga been a recovery tool for you? How has it helped/hindered your self-healing? Share your story if you feel so inclined. Let’s start a discussion.