Yoga In Recovery From Addiction

The ability for yoga to heal is an essential part of every class that I teach, so when an opportunity came up to explore yoga at a famous rehabilitation facility located in the mountains in the northern reaches of Thailand, far from the stresses of big-city living, I thought that it would be a terrific idea: Why not take the healing to those that need it the most? After talking extensively to the management team, however, I quickly realized that the great sensitivity of the process of addiction recovery should not be taken lightly. In Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras," one of the most ancient and respected texts on the subject, the second verse is often translated as "Yoga is the Calming of the Fluctuation of the Mind." What we have then, is a very tangible definition of what yoga is. Many modern practitioners have been influenced by later developments and interpretations of yoga, so the meaning has become a bit unclear, with definitions ranging from "union" to "postures." In fact, there are so many variations in yoga that the essentials taught at certain institutions can be viewed as nonsense at others. Yoga began in India thousands of years ago as a method of transcendence from ordinary, unconscious living. Through discipline, devotion and management of the mind, one can facilitate the process of evolution. However, our modern age tends to value the visible more than the subtle. As such, some physically demanding yoga studios will proudly proclaim: "Burn calories, not incense." Classic schools stemming from a common lineage are not immune to this need to differentiate. The Iyengar tradition promotes the usage of props (chairs, blocks, straps) in order to aid proper alignment, whereas the Ashtangis tend to view such objects as a hindrance to the f