In our latest blog we are incredibly fortunate to have Brandon Walker, one of ECYs regular yogis in our outreach class at the Serenity Café tell us what practicing yoga in recovery means to him. The practice of yoga helps us in so many ways, working with the body and the breath with focus and concentration brings us into the present moment and eventually allows the mind to find space and rest from constant thinking. Brandon’s story reaffirms this concept beautifully.
I used to lead a fantastically stressful life – feeling that something was wrong with me, I didn’t know what it was, it would never go away, and why me?
I spent some twenty years looking for a way to escape myself, and I never thought it would be possible to live without drugs and alcohol – or at least, it might be possible because the doctor said not to, but I would never be happy about it; it would be a forced situation, in the same way as my whole life felt forced, that this fight with myself felt necessary.
Things almost played out just that way. When I was 38, a doctor informed me I was unlikely to see 40.
It didn’t stop me: I spent my 39th birthday detoxing from three drugs simultaneously in a psychiatric ward.
But I turned 40 whilst in rehab. I found a way to live in there – all those years of screaming inside, ‘Why me?’, and when I got to treatment, the staff said, ‘Me too! Here’s what you do about it…’
I’ve never looked back.
And of course it’s hard, but the rewards are immense – I’m happier with my life than I ever thought I had a chance to be, only eighteen months down the line, but I need to work to maintain my new found happiness, and this is where yoga comes in.
Yoga reminds me that I’m a small part of something huge and magnificent; it grounds me and makes me aware of how simple life really is. Meditation is a well established element to many people’s recovery, and yoga does the same job for me: I focus on some simple (not always easy) exercises, and I’m mindful of my breathing, and for an hour and a half nothing else has to matter.
You need no special flexibility, there is no qualification other than a willingness to have a go, and it makes you feel good – it builds self esteem and a sense of belonging in the longer term, knowing that you are actively working for your own benefit as part of a group, and it serves to promote inner clam – what can be wrong with that?