Recovery Yoga – Part Two – Yoga

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I find it funny that I DO very little yoga but have been drawn to it for years. I buy yoga books & vids and one of my favorites is a book on yoga anatomy. I just received my order for a yoga bolster, a strap & two blocks. I don’t even know what these things do!

In the same way, I love self help books, different diets, gardening, new software, cooking, bread baking, I am fascinated with digging deeper. It’s not so much about mastering a skill as it’s just a feeling of getting lost and losing time. I think they call it a hobby or a passion.

I could have chosen a million different activities on vacation but I wanted to do yoga. I spent hours on the internet looking at different studios and reading descriptions. Most places I wasn’t even qualified for a beginner class, so I was also considering a private lesson. Like I said previously, just getting to the floor took work. And getting off the floor, in a room full of pretty people, wasn’t what I was after. ( I learned down dog is a good way to get off the floor & yep, it works!)

The studio I chose, offered yoga & daycare, yoga for teenage girls, yoga for kids with autism, family yoga, sunrise on the lake yoga and most wonderfully for me – Recovery Yoga. Yoga & a 12 Step meeting in one. People who had never done yoga were especially welcome! The teacher was also in recovery. And yoga had played a role in her recovery journey. Yep, that was my class!

A couple key points stood out for me in class. This was not about exercise or practicing certain poses or perfectly choreographed routines. It was about releasing the emotions, the issues in our tissues, that stay stuck. It was about creating internal space to allow new, good, sober life choices to enter. It was about mudras, touching, and mantras, speaking, that create new neural pathways in the body & brain. Healing. Releasing, Healing.

During one of the exercises, the teacher said to look at her. I realized, that I mostly do yoga with my eyes closed because I do it alone at home and I am concentrating. (It was also a self protection. I didn’t want to look at the teacher or the other girl because I didn’t want to compare myself.) When I am holding a stretch, in my mind, with my eyes closed, I picture the muscles that are working or relaxed. The classroom environment added scent & sound which definately enhanced that experience. I tried to imagine what issues were deep in my tissues and visualized them releasing and creating space.

Since I was only going to be in town for one class, she gave me some take home tools. My favorite was learning to do some of the poses against the wall! Wow! Did that feel good! One pose that I can’t do on the floor, a pigeon, was successful against the wall. At home when, I listen to the vids, the instructors are like, doesn’t that feel good! I’m like grunting and grasping and the pose cuts off my breathing. The wall poses were super helpful. My chest stayed open so I could breathe.

We worked on some hip openers since that’s where I am the tightest. She talked again, like I have learned from sober bloggers, that the hips hold so much emotion. When she talked about step 4 & 5 in 12 steps, I can’t remember the words but its like, make a list of everything horrible and tell someone. I went right to  – there’s NO WAY that will happen and had to uncross my legs. My hips felt like they were on fire. (This was my reaction, not what the steps are really about! And remember, all my preconceptions are from TV, not real life.)

We mantred, mudraed, meditated and began the final pose, it has a name but I call it sustained lying down. And a cool thing the teacher said, if you find a pose that gives you peace, you can use that. The girl in class did that and stayed at the wall because her back felt good in the pose she was doing. I went to my doubled mats and closed my eyes. I don’t remember specific words but when we were done I was crying. All the “stuff” just bubbled out my eyes. I felt a little embarrassed but I knew if I had achieved this feeling at home I would have been sobbing.

Then we all hugged. Ugh. I am not a hugger by nature. The teacher said we all need a good 3 second, heart touching heart, hug every day. I’m a grab & go girl at best. As any good teacher does, you push your students a little past their comfort zone. She gave me, I swear, a 12 second hug. As she was hugging me, total boob to boob contact, I looked over at the other girl in panic, then we all laughed because I started to pat the teachers back, like okay, we’re good, all done now. I counted a total of 15 hugs. Me & Wendy at coffee and now at class. 15 Hugs just in that morning. The evening before it had been a hug fest with my bro & the family. My sister in law starts about 10 yards away with open arms and waving here fingers to come closer. I do like her hugs. This is no family obligation hug. This is a heart to heart.  So, hugging is definately something I can work on. (P.S. for those of us who have been hit and then hugged. Hugging is a really hard thing.) And it reminds me of, when you are an alcoholic, you count how much other people are drinking. I mean, who counts hugs?!? Maybe someone who has hug issues?

Yoga Recovery is my new love. The closest class is 3 hours away. The closest 12 step group is 30 minutes away but it has men in it. The closest yoga class is 20 minutes away but it is an exercise kind of yoga. So my goal for myself is to develop my own at home yoga recovery program. Maybe get enough info together, find an AA leader, start a women only, local AA group? Contact a yoga teacher who does healing yoga?

Tomorrow I start Home in Your Body by Jay Fields. Her book is a 28 day plan to build your own home yoga practice. The first day is to set your intention for what you want this practice to be. I finally feel I can now begin.

I know I want my yoga practice to be about recovery.

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Recovery Yoga – Part One – Recovery

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I went to my first yoga class. I also went to my first AA meeting. And they were the same class! I had never been to either one but I had seen both on TV, so I was nervous. I had some preconceptions about what would happen, yep, only from TV. But the comments from so many sober bloggers about how much they loved their AA groups and yoga classes made me want to be a part of what was working for long term sobriety. (My instructor has a Y12SR extra certification see below for definition.)

So here’s what happened to me.

The yoga studio was in the lower level of a church. It was a Wednesday in the summer and you could feel this small church had great energy. I have spent a lot of time working in churches and when you hear someone refer to a church as being alive, it is a true feeling.

Upstairs there were therapy offices and several staff members chatting. Downstairs in the social hall, were bright children’s paintings drying.  The bathroom was super cute and clean. That is always a good sign! I  could tell this church/ therapy/ yoga studio was alive and welcoming to those who were poor in spirit.

     I waited for class to start, reading the bulletin board and checking out the space, and there was a basket where I could donate my gently used bras. Free The Girls and give a former slave a job. Huh. I could throw my bra at a problem instead of money. Its amazing how the world opens up when you leave your comfort zone.
     I was the only one waiting and that was good. I didn’t want a big group. I recognized the instructor as she came in. She had the same energy as I picked up from her profile. There was another girl with her and I hoped that was all the people, and it was. Sigh of relief! Small group and no men. I was greeted with smiles and hugs and was immediately put into service carrying yoga bricks to another room. Service is an important aspect of AA they quipped. Okay, no problem, a little group building activity to cut the ice is good!
     The room was beautiful. The front mirrored wall was draped in light scarves that fluttered with the fans. I was grateful they were covered. There was a soft mural painted above of a tree and birds. It was very subtle and felt very serene and calm. There was a light scent to the room and at different times quiet notes of sound. Not really music.
     We got our mats and I learned about “double matting”. Two mats are softer than one! Then we got out the bolsters. In my TV version of yoga I had never seen one of these. People always sat pretzel legged on the floor to begin to warm up. I knew in my case, that it took 15 minutes of warm up to even sit on the floor, and another 15 minutes of stretches to fold in my legs. These were not the TV version of ” just roll up a towel and sit on it”. These bolster things were big & heavy, They were high and wide and plop, I was sitting on the floor comfortably! (My new purple yoga bolster arrives today!)
     I looked around the room for the steel foldng chairs so we could begin the AA portion. Nope. We started with some very kind stretches (folded pretzel legs optional) to open our hearts, minds and tissues. And then we just sat on our bolsters and yoga mats for the AA meeting. That was cool. And a relief. We read some rules, which I quickly broke by  interrupting, “cross talk” it is called. I did have to say the line, just like on TV, I’m Lori and I’m an alcoholic. It felt a little awkward saying it out loud as I have just recently been able to write those words. On the instruction page that I was responsible for reading it looked like this. I’m ______ and I’m an _______ and a ______ and a_______. I remembered it was a 12 step program and that , she explained, pertained to the Big 6 of addictions,  alcohol Is one of them.
     We had a topic – courage – and we all shared in equal amounts of time. (Reminder to self: This is not a discussion – no cross talk 🙂 ) I have done group therapy before and it was similar. I could feel my face and body language itching to engage in the dialogue. I did have a hard time listening to another’s share without becoming actively involved. I had just finished having coffee with another sober blogger where we did dynamically, meaningfully discuss all kinds of stuff.  I was definately carrying that dynamic with me into this close group. I felt terrible that I interrupted but I was there to learn. Robert’s Rules of Order were not used (haha) but there are 12 Step discussion rules for a reason. P.S. I bet I worried about this much more than the others did!!
    Recovery Yoga- Part II Yoga,  tomorrow. Lori
     What is Y12SR?
Y12SR is a rich and powerful framework for integrating the wisdom of yoga and the practical tools of 12-step programs. Guided by it’s theme ‘The Issues Live In the Tissues”, Y12SR meetings are now available all over country and the curriculum is quickly becoming a feature of addiction recovery treatment centers across the United States. 

Will Work For Stickers

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In my planner, there has been a sober day achievement most weeks. A day that is covered in bright star stickers. This week was one that didn’t have a cool magic number of days. So, I decided to make Day 85 my sticker day. When I turn the page in my planner, next week is Day 90 and the next week page turn is Day 100!

Nothing special about Day 85 (coming up in two days) but I sure love putting on colorful stickers. And a week without stickers is just no fun.

I read an article about Carrie Underwood and they took a photo of her day planner. She said she is like a kindergartener, she gives herself a sticker when she exercises, or practices or sticks to her meal plan, etc. She had written in little notes to herself – Yah! Great job! You rocked! Hers did look childish. But I really wanted it!!!

I liked the concept of setting a small goal with a small reward. Just a sticker or writing myself a word of congrats – in a fabulous colored ink pen! And lots of little goals a day means lots of stickers!

Todays Reward Ideas:

  • Buy more stickers!
  • Some cool colored gel ink pens
  • There are some unique font ideas I have saved on Pinterest. I am going to try to handwrite my love/congrats notes to myself in a cool font using cool ink pens & stickers.

Let the Post Vacation Meltdown Begin!

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This time I knew it was coming, that intense desire to drink AFTER the vacation. Settling back in, but not on the routine yet. Extra sleep, no fresh food in the house, a/c needs repair, recording receipts of all the money spent, dog needs extra love, kids are tired, getting ready to go back to work Monday morning.

But, I knew it was coming. That made a big difference in how long I let the thoughts of drinking last. I used some of the usual tools of distraction, played a game, read, slept.

When I restocked groceries, I went back to some of my earliest food tools. Sandwich meat for boys and full sugar, caffeine free pop for me. I bought fruit and salad fixings for the week, but didn’t worry about cooking until I had decompressed. Grandma sent junk food home with us and I just let the kids graze on that.

My mind rebelled at reading sober blogs, I hadn’t kept up too well the last week. This, I felt was important, so I pushed through the apathy and read every word of what I missed. It helped get me back to what I needed  to be doing every day to stay sober.

I let myself eat what I wanted on vacation. I made good choices and walked every day. When I came home, I lost it. I ate crap and couldn’t get filled up. My diet suffered more from the post vacation letdown than from the trip. I embraced it, because if I tried to control it, I was so afraid I would choose to drink.

It was a good lesson in what, I absolutely know and believe about my drinking, once I have one drink I will be back to a box of wine every two days, (Almost 3 bottles a day.) I do not have food control issues so, it was an okay place to let control go in exchange for not have a drink.

It seems I need to give up control in safe ways in order to set myself back straight. I read an entire book in one day. I overplayed computer games, I sat way too much, ate junk food and pop, and didn’t do any cooking or cleaning. And read every word of sober support on these blogs!

It’s Monday morning and I feel back to my new normal. My new normal is taking care of myself.

Day 80 – Return From Vacation

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I am almost too tired to post, but Day 80 needs some love, honor & recognition. Staying sober on vacation was relatively easy – because I planned for it to be easy.

Monday I was up at 3:30 walked before 7 and we were on the road before 8, at Grandma’s condo by 11. Blew up the air matresses first thing so I could come home and go to bed and not face that frustration. Met everyone for pizza and crashed by 8.

Tuesday we walked before 7 am. It was my son’s day to pick activities so we visited comic book stores and went to see Antman in IMax 3D, played mini golf and went for pizza. Crashed by 8.

Thursday was the other son’s day so we walked before 7, went mini golfing, shopped for candy & Lego’s at the Mall of America and went out for pizza & crashed at 8.

Wednesday was my day!!! Walked before 7 and then met Wendy (Untipsy Teacher) at the most beautiful Patisserie. We chatted about sobriety, blogging, our lives, yoga, support & how cool it was to meet another sober blogger! Then we were both off to yoga classes.

The area we were at, is where I used to live. My old doctor’s office, my library, my liquor store, homes where I babysat or had playdates, churches I had attended, gardens and lakes that I walked. I wondered who I would have been if I had stayed.

The yoga class I had signed up for was a yoga recovery class. The first part is an AA meeting and the second part is yoga. The class was led by a certified yoga instructor and recovering alcohol & drug addict. Her certification is Y12SR. She said to search for instructors in my area. There are about 300 in the country.

I had never been to an AA meeting and I had never been to a yoga class. It was amazing! It was everything I had hoped it would be. It will get it’s own post.

Wednesday wrapped up with more pizza with the cousins and more sleep.

I am not walking this morning 🙂 I am unpacked and ready to sit and reflect on my week. I have lots to blog about and not much energy to get it into words yet.

Day 80 is a big number, I planned to come home from vacation and be able to celebrate that number. So – yeah me! I did it.

Belle – Part II

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Belle asked me how would I feel at day 150. Twice where I was in days. My first thought was what was the date? She said it didn’t matter. But Belle, but, but, but…..

At different times of the year I am a different person. My job is seasonal, there is the boys’ school year, summer vacation, holidays, what time of the month is it? 15 year old will be 16 & have his drivers license, my insurance will go up, will this be the last year the 13 year old goes trick or treating, if he doesn’t how much candy will I need?

I am a product of what is going on around me. I am a first responder to my life. Assess the overall situation. Prioritize. Plan. Implement. Done! Drink.

She said how would I FEEL on the INSIDE. Not what I was DOING on the OUTSIDE.

Oh, I dunno, umm, I’ve never, uh, gee, hmmmm….. Who has time to think about how I feel? I have stuff to DO!

I’m not ready for my future self. My head goes to “what will be happening around me?” I need to work on “who am I when things happen.”

Will there be a crisis that needs attention? You betcha!

Will I be short on cash? Of course.

Will someone ask me to do one extra thing? Always.

Do I want to give the same response that hasn’t worked well for me? I have years of journals that will give me the scientific proof that what I try to DO isn’t going to work. Too much doing leads to too much drinking.

What do I FEEL like on the inside when I respond to future issues? Is it possible to not feel like everything is a crisis needing a response? Have I learned anything on this sobriety journey or am I just prolonging the inevitable relapse?

This is what I want for day 150:

  • Me – comes first. If I ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
  • Less – I will channel CoCo Chanel –  I will look at the mirror of life and take off one thing. Maybe two or three things if I look all Madonna Material Girlish.
  • Homey – stick to my own ground. Keep my feet on my home yoga mat. Cook my own food. Vacuum the floors I walk on. Click my ruby heeled shoes together and mantra, ” There’s no place like home.”
  • Write, journal, blog, read – use my words like a big girl.
  • Feelings – have a variety to choose from and learn their names.  On & Off are not feelings. Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful come in, have a cup of coffee. Let’s talk.
  • Put some time into friendships, not to obligations. And in the spirit of a good girlfriend lunch date….
  • Eat – the good stuff only. Skim is a 4 letter word. Spend money on good chocolate, the best seasonal fruit, veggies straight from the ground.

This “feels” super right for me. A strong base. Plant my roots even deeper. Quit giving my energy away to those annoying nouns – people, places, things – that I cannot change. I want to be wise and know the difference.

Belle Talk – Part I

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As part of Sober Jumpstart 100 you get 50 podcasts emailed to you every other day and 2 phone calls with Belle. I have done a live group call in with her and one or two other phone calls. This was one of those one on one calls.

She had a bunch of notes by my name and reminded me of some of our other conversations. I had forgotten that last year at exactly this same time, I did my own 100 days with no wine. I still could drink other stuff but it was my own way of transitioning to sobriety. I did do it and day 101 went back to wine until these last 73 days.

That time helped me find my best go-to drink in the evenings. Full sugar caffeine-free cola. And since I’m not fond of too many other drinks I had lots of really good sober nights. It also gave me a feel of the time frame of what 100 days felt like.

She also reminded me about how badly last year I was struggling to leave the house. I had (have) no problem getting in the car and leaving town & doing anything. It was strictly going outside in my yard, getting gas, the doctor, school events, anything involving this small town & the people here.

Watching Extreme Weight Loss yesterday ( and crying, always crying through these) the woman made the comment about her before body. “I was sad. I had zero self value. No self worth. It showed.” THAT is it. My fear of being seen by people who know me. The people of this town watched me get betrayed crushed by his affair. It played out very publicly, in a town that is only 1 mile square with a two block main street and no stop lights.

I remember one mother at day care saying to me, “Wow- you look so good! It gives me the courage to get divorced.”  What?!? I was so sick from grief. Yes, I lost weight but I was no role model for divorce. That was horrible and it only cemented the fact that people were watching me, making judgements about how I looked and then coming to a completely incorrect conclusion.

I remember every time I would go the the tiny grocery store and would have to see the girl (she was 21) her mom or dad (my age) my in laws or my ex. In a really small town people go to the grocery store or gas station two or three times a day. It is how they socialize. Then at night, it is either the bar, next door to the grocery, or a school function. There was no escape for me. These people were everywhere. It gives me the creeps even writing about it.

It is 10 years later. I spent last summer in counseling when leaving the house became debilitating. It helped. I learned that my secret drinking was keeping the isolation feelings alive. Not drinking this summer has helped even more.

Last month I could go outside of my house for 5-10 minutes. Now I am walking 3 times around the park in front of my house. I have a gift that I can speak in front of large groups with no stress, like in auditorium size groups. But going outside of my own house is horrible.

In a group setting I am judged on my knowledge. In this small town I am judged by the actions of what someone did to me. And what they see is fat. They see that I haven’t recovered from trauma because they can see the fat.

On the makeover TV show, when the woman said her thoughts on her ‘before’ body, I totally got it. And it’s true! She had to heal some pain, learn new skills and fight back to protect herself from being a victim. It was inspring to see her year long transformation.

I am getting stronger and learning new skills. After 10 years I really need to heal this pain and stop feeling like a victim.