On Yoga

Or more specifically, on asana.

The ubiquitous  bakasana  (which autocorrect tried to change to  bananas )

The ubiquitous bakasana (which autocorrect tried to change to bananas)

I totally let it slip that last month was National Yoga Month. Honestly I was focused more on National Recovery Month since I celebrated five years free from alcohol on September 2. 

I consider it a sign of progress I don't notice things like National Yoga Month these days unless someone points it out. I know when I say Yoga most people think of asana or postures of the practice. I still do, too, sometimes. But asana, for me, doesn't hold the cache it probably did when I first encountered it, about 23 years ago. 

I busted out this one (pictured) the other day just to see if I could still do it- but the past few years my physical practice has whittled down to targeted movement when I need it, myofascial release and restorative postures that counteract other things I am doing to myself (like sitting here now, and writing this). I like to challenge myself physically in other ways- asana is more of a moving prayer for me. 

I don't teach group asana much anymore- except in training settings- mostly because it doesn't speak to what I feel I have to offer these days. I was told to teach what you know, what's in your practice and what is relevant to your life- if you feel it meets the needs of the group. I still follow that, even in Y12SR trainings when those present are a mix of people in recovery, therapists, yoga teachers and simply curious individuals.

I think Yoga is a magnificent way to embody the principles of the 12 steps, and I've written about some of that intersection before. 

Some of the other, specific ways asana is quite powerful for me are: 

  • feeling my feet (or whatever body part!) on the ground- I'm here, now
  • feeling whatever power is in my body- this is my time
  • feeling a sense of spaciousness in the tissues that hold me together- I'm open to possibility
  • feeling a sense of structure in my form- I won't fall apart
  • feeling the movement of my breath in my throat, chest and belly- I'm alive and filled with spirit

Note the common word, feeling. This is a big deal. 

In trauma our body and brain are often disconnected. This is a survival mechanism- in order to escape the danger our bodies need to simply act. But this very necessary mechanism is often stuck, like a needle on a record and our bodies and minds can't get that groove back. 

In recovery I'm getting my groove back. I know who I am, I know what my body needs, I can choose what to do for myself and can feel supported by a loving universe. 

Thanks, Yoga.