Alison Rae is one of our wonderful yogis in recovery. We are so proud of her and the journey she is on; the challenges she has overcome to continue to commit to her own yoga practice, and take forward her own learning in order to support others in the recovery community to experience yoga. Alison provides invaluable support in the work we do at the Serenity Café and we know she has exciting things ahead of her. Read on for inspiration…
My journey into yoga started 16 years ago when, after many years of struggling and the over-reliance of alcohol as a way of self medicating, I experienced a major breakdown in my mental health. This resulted in a hospital admission, 18 months of sick leave from work and ultimately the end of my career as an Occupational Therapist working in Mental Health.
Around this time I, quite accidently, came across the most inspiring yoga teacher with whom I felt comfortable and who guided me through a series of postures and a totally new way of breathing. In preparation for the birth of my first child, I threw myself into my yoga practice and continued right up until 2 weeks before going into labour with my daughter. But, with the pressures of being a new mum, I never quite found the time to fit yoga into my life. 2 years later, as my daughter went through the difficult toddler years and developed into a highly spirited wee person, my mental health once again took a downturn. Having stopped medications and significantly reducing my alcohol intake during the pregnancy and a year of breastfeeding, I was once again medicated and under the care of a psychiatrist. By that time my yoga teacher had moved on and I couldn’t find another class that was small and supportive enough so, even though I knew yoga had the potential to offer respite from my busy head, I never managed to pick it up again.
Time passed, and as I went on to have my son, I simply struggled to juggle everything in my life: running a house, holding down an increasingly demanding job and raising two small children against the backdrop of a failing marriage and ever increasing alcohol dependency. The inevitable breakdown came in 2012 – this time alcohol was my one and only friend and when I went off sick from my job; I had much more time on my hands and the drinking escalated. Two or three attempts at controlling my drinking, seeking the support of the Substance Misuse Service and finally the pursuit of an abstinent life, and the drinking escalated ever more. After a final drinking spree during the summer of 2012, my final drink was on the 21st August and that is when my yoga journey truly began.
The Serenity Cafe had recently started a yoga class and, as I became a regular at the café, I felt able to try the class out and met the wonderful Lorraine from ECYOutreach. I learned from Lorraine that by connecting my body and mind through my breath, I had the power within me to improve my own well-being without resorting to external substances. As I became stronger in my recovery and had accepted the limitations and capabilities of my own body and breath, I started to assist Lorraine in running a class for woman affected by trauma within Serenity Cafe/Womanzone. This led on to me recently completing a 4 day training in yoga and mindfulness for addiction through The Minded Institute.
I am passionate about the benefits of yoga and its particular relevance for those in recovery (many of the yoga principles sit well alongside the 12 step programme that many addicts adopt when coming into recovery). Being able to regulate the nervous system through lifting and lowering it through yoga practice and learning get “out of your head” through yoga nidra (a type of yoga sleep), basic postures and mindful breathing without the reliance on substances still amazes and delights me and being able to share this with fellow addicts supported by Serenity Cafe and ECYOutreach has offered me “a life beyond my wildest dreams” (one of the promises offered by the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous).
If you would like to contribute to supporting us in continuing our work with people like Alison you can donate here