• Yoga for Trauma, Mental Wellness,

    and Addiction Recovery

     

    Alison Faith Brown
  • If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, you know it is a holistic dis-ease. In other words, it can and will affect everything in one’s life. Known as a disease of the brain, it’s damage weakens faith in and connection to Self, compromises the body and, eventually, wreaks havoc on one’s relationships and worldly affairs.

     

    While not a substitute for therapy or the 12 step path, yoga provides a holistic approach to a holistic dis-ease. It is an invaluable complement to other forms of therapy, offering a unique “bottom-up” approach to healing. As the saying goes “the issues are in the tissues” and the practice of yoga, when combined with breath awareness, has an uncanny way of freeing old emotions ready to rise to the surface.

     

    Concurrently, I love the way yoga helps restore one’s “felt-sense” of Self…. in a way that is unique to each individual. Thus, in a broad sense, with the right approach, yoga can lead us from the small self to the connected Self.

     

    It is both a joy and an honor to participate in the process of transformation. Yoga has gifted me with the tools and has awakened my heart just enough so that I can be a compassionate and skilled support for someone wishing to add this “bottom-up” approach to their healing.

     

    My mission for my students (as well as myself!) is to embody awareness, joy, and love. It begins by creating safety, allowing the release of tensions and old patterns that have kept us stuck. As we release these patterns, known in yoga as samskaras, we begin to remember our aliveness and true identity.

    Recovery of this Self is our mission; it will transform our lives wherever we are on the spectrum of “recovery.”

     

    Ground*** Breathe*** Focus/Connect

    Ground: We all need a safe space to land. We need to feel safe in our bodies in order to be Present. Feeling safe is a process of gradually opening to sensation and feeling. Combined with conscious breathing, Yoga’s “bottom-up” mindful technology is an asset to the therapeutic process.

     

    Breath: Breath is our relationship with Life itself. It is said that conscious breathing (pranayama), can interrupt the stories, patterns, and energies of addiction even allowing somatic moments of wellbeing.

     

    Stress inhibits the breath, making it short and shallow and, in turn, dims our life-force energy. The conscious use of breath engages the relaxation response and can boost one’s energy, helping to help alleviate anxiety and depression. It is an indispensable skill for navigating life’s stressful moments and is one of our most powerful tools for healing and wholeness.

     

    Focus and Connect: "Keep coming back” is a common axiom in 12-Step culture. If we apply this same principle, using our breathing to help us return to our chosen focus, we will gradually discover the mind gains the ability to become more focused. Science now demonstrates that we are considerably happier when we are focused in the present moment.

     

    The mind loves a job. Given a job, it can relax, giving us a welcome sense of peace. This is the principle behind many of our meditation practices. Repeating a mantra, focussing on a sensation, an image, or even the breath, are all good ways to help direct the mind, connect with our inner resilience and eventually, the treasured state of stillness.

     

    The 11th Step (in the 12 Step program), directs us to prayer and meditation. It is said that prayer is when we speak to God whereas meditation is listening to God. This moment of listening, of stillness, can be profound and can inform our whole day. Many of life’s most vexing, existential questions rest in the peace inherent in stillness.

     

    There are many yogic tools to help raise one’s energy and establish a connection. My favorite is the practice of gratitude. The frequency of gratitude connects to the Soul’s Essence, that deeper Self. The power of gratitude transforms and is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. I love to end each class cultivating its practice.

    “Let the beauty you love be what you do.

    There are a thousand ways to kneel down and kiss the ground.” Rumi

    Namaste

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