When I was drinking at my worst, I was a terrible mother. It’s difficult to admit, but I knew that my kids weren’t getting the care and attention that they deserved, I was too interested in opening another bottle of wine to really dedicate my time to them. My children weren’t neglected in the conventional sense: I fed them every day and made sure they went to school every day. But I had no time to talk to them, rarely spent time with them, and had no real interest in anything outside of how much I could drink whilst they were at school, or spending time in their bedrooms so they didn’t need to be around me and my mood swings. I was withdrawn from my family, withdrawn socially, and with hindsight, in the depths of depression.
Some might say it is coincidence, but I think it is massively significant that my decision to enter recovery for my alcoholism and my discovery of yoga happened at around the same time. I didn’t have that clichéd rock bottom moment: I wasn’t arrested, nobody threatened to take away my children (although perhaps they should have), I simply received a leaflet about a local yoga class in my post box one day, and decided to give it a go on a whim. Within a week, I was attending classes every day. I was still drinking every day too, but yoga was certainly making me feel happier than I had for a long time and it gave me a reason to want to leave the house again. There is no magic secret as to why yoga is so beneficial to those seeking to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol but there is certainly something therapeutic about attending a yoga class.
Yoga simply gave me clarity: time and space to think quietly about what I was doing to myself and those around me. It was whilst I was in a yoga class that I realized that I just didn’t want to drink anymore and that I wanted to be a better person, to get the old happy version of myself back. Of course that wasn’t as easy as it sounds; rehab was hard work, I relapsed spectacularly and I will always consider myself to be an alcoholic. But I continued to attend my yoga classes every day and now I have come out the other side as a better mother, a better wife, and ultimately a better human.
The Healing Effects of Yoga
Yoga helps me feel better about myself. When I have finished a yoga class I feel calm, fulfilled, and ready to face whatever life has to throw at me. I realized that one of the reasons I was drinking was because I found the pressures of motherhood to be overwhelming, and far more challenging than I expected them to be. But now I realize that that’s nothing to be ashamed of and that there are many moms that feel this way. I love my kids, but they are hard work. I am still a busy mom and, like most busy moms, my kids still occasionally drive me crazy. But yoga has given me the tools I need to handle the stress and pressure of parenting in a healthy way rather than simply block it out with alcohol.
A local yogi once told me that when you are an addict, your body is a holding place for the pain that drove you to become an addict in the first place. Yoga helps to release that pain and process your feelings around it at your own pace and in a controlled environment. It took a long time to realize that my feelings of guilt around my parenting skills was actually what was driving me to alcoholism. Now though, I think that my new-found passion for yoga is an addiction, albeit a healthy one, and one that I would recommend to any alcoholic who is looking for the strength to give up their addiction.