Nine years into my own active recovery journey, here are five lessons that yoga and meditation have taught me about recovery:
Recovery can be daunting.
Changing your own human behavior is an immeasurable act of courage and strength. Which is why the simplicity of sitting, breathing, and moving intentionally are so powerful. Simple certainly doesn't mean easy. But when the complexity of a recovery journey is staring you down, it is deeply soothing to have simple and effective practices to turn to.
My yoga practice reminds me that I have a body.
That may feel so odd to read, but in my own experience, I spend a lot of my life unaware of my own embodied experience. By pausing to drop into stillness, move with intention, and listen to what my body is sharing, the body becomes an anchor in the present moment — which is exactly where recovery happens.
Recovery isn't linear.
That makes having a steady, consistent practice a really powerful barometer. Generally speaking, my home practice is really repetitive: a few sun salutations, a standing pose or two, backbends and forward bends, an inversion, a twist, savasana, breath and meditation. It happens in that order almost daily. Over time, that repetition becomes a mirror. I'm able to see my own state of recovery reflected back to me. Some days I see, "Huh, my body feels anxious today" or "my breath is shallow and quick" or "my mind is really agitated and foggy." The repetition of my practice allows me to observe the present moment state of my recovery with clarity.
Yoga and meditation remind me that I am trustworthy.
Even though relapse is a common part of recovery, both yoga and meditation taught me to recognize my own inherent wisdom — and to trust it. Suddenly, the power that my addiction had stolen from me was mine again. By learning to trust that deep-down, gut-knowing part of me, my agency was restored.
Early in my journey a mentor reminded me that recovery is a lifelong, active choice.
Our yoga and meditation practices can also be a lifelong, active choice. Together, both recovery and yoga and meditation nurture the beginner's mind. Every day is a new day. Every practice is a new practice. The challenge is to show up, day in and day out, and be in relationship with whatever is there.
Sounds a lot like recovery, right?
Guest post by studio BE Content & Curriculum Specialist Jyothi Behne
Based on the values of healing, growth and authenticity, Jyothi's classes are a combination of storytelling and intelligent sequencing. After battling eating disorders and self-harming behaviors for over 14 years, Jyothi's discovery of yoga in 2005 saved her life. She is now living her 9th year of active recovery.
In 2010, Jyothi left her career as an Education Policy Analyst to become a full-time yoga teacher. She lives with her husband, Bo, and their two vibrant and creative children, wherever the Navy stations them (which is always changing).
Feature image by Viacheslav Lakobchuk/Adobe Stock