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Soul Recovery

To most people, the word recovery means two things: recovering from an illness or injury, or recovering from an addiction. And although these definitions are both real and helpful, they are quite narrow and don’t encompass the fullness of what recovery can be, within the context of transformation as a way of life and being on a spiritual path. It’s similar to how sometimes, in our fast-paced modern-day culture, yoga can be misunderstood and misconstrued as nothing more than an avenue for physical fitness.

So, some questions for contemplation:

What if we could redefine the word recovery – broaden what it means, and also reduce the stigmatization that often comes along with it, especially when it’s used in reference to the addiction recovery process? What if we could redefine it in such a way that it stopped being about ‘fixing’ things we and/or our culture deem as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong, and instead, was about something way bigger than what we usually think or believe it’s about?

What if recovery wasn’t just for people experiencing some kind of addiction in their lives, and instead, was something that was and is for all of us? What if we held a perspective that we are all on a journey of recovering, or healing, from something – whether that be childhood trauma; unhealthy or codependent relationships (friends, family, parents, partners, etc.); imbalanced ways of eating or viewing our bodies; the amount of time spent ‘escaping’ or ‘numbing out’ scrolling on social media or watching Netflix; jobs or lives that are too busy, too overwhelming, too stressful, lacking meaning and purpose…

What if recovery wasn’t something someone ‘had to do’ when they ‘hit rock bottom’, and was more of a worldview, lifestyle, or even personal or collective mission?

What if recovery became about recovering our most authentic selves? Our Spirits. Our Souls. As individuals, and as communities and humanity at large? And what if we supported each other in this – and built community and communities around it?

This broader, holistic perspective is part of what the ancient system of yoga and practices like mindfulness have to offer the journey of recovery. At their core, yoga and mindfulness are practices rooted in the cultivation of a harmonious, coherent, integrated, and aligned relationships between the mind, body, and Spirit; between our internal experiences and the world around us; and between the self, others, and the Earth. Another way of saying all this is to say that yoga and mindfulness support the journey toward becoming whole.

With this in mind, it’s simple and beautiful to then also reimagine recovery as a process of both literally and metaphorically recovering parts of oneself, also toward wholeness.

Yoga – to yolk, to connect, or to unify.

Recovery – to uncover, rediscover, and reclaim all of one's' parts (regardless of how or why they have been ‘lost’, ‘forgotten’, or ‘fragmented’ throughout one’s life experiences).

Seems like they go well together, wouldn’t you say?

To those of you reading this, as students and practitioners of yoga and as members of Namaspa Yoga Community, it might be obvious that the process and journey of recovery can’t include or address just one or some parts of a person, and that true healing and rediscovery of the self require addressing not just one aspect of our being, but all aspects: mental, emotional, spiritual, and social; the subconscious and conscious levels of the mind; the journey of the individual, as well as our interconnectedness within community and the larger web of Life. However, and on the other hand, it’s not always the case that recovery is viewed as or approached in practice in this way.

In addition to the perspectives of moving toward integration, wholeness, and unity that are found in the ancient teachings and system of yoga, in anthropology, there is a theory called holism, which is based on the idea that “parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts” (Oxford Languages, Oxford University Press). Integrating the theory of holism into the discussion of recovery – particularly in the context of rediscovering one's authentic self and spirit with support from practices like yoga and mindfulness – offers a profound framework for understanding and approaching cultivation of overall wellbeing and the choice to be on path of inner- and outer-focused change and transformation. Holism as it relates to recovery shifts the recovery conversation from being about suffering or struggling individuals recovering from specific ailments, challenges, or addiction, to being about healing and transformation of disconnection at all levels of one’s Being and beyond. It becomes about reconnection and recovery at the level of the self, with and between each other, in relationship to nature and the world around us, and ultimately, with the Divine or Universal Source.

So, how to Incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your recovery journey? Or incorporate principles and practices of recovery into your already-existing yoga and mindfulness practices? And within all of this, how to incorporate the perspective and practice of holism?

It can begin with small steps either on your own in your daily life, or by seeking out meetings, classes, workshops, and events that explicitly weave yoga, mindfulness, and recovery together. For example, seeking out yoga and mindfulness-based gatherings geared toward recovery, as well as recovery gatherings that intentionally integrate yoga and mindfulness. The kinds of environments, facilitators, and gatherings which are explicitly linking the ancient teachings and practices of yoga and mindfulness together with both addiction recovery and broader definitions of recovery, offer supportive environments to get curious about and explore the connection between and complementary nature of these practices.

And Namaspa Yoga Community, as well as the Namaspa Foundation, are both committed to offering spaces, environments, and gatherings where these kinds of conversations and experiences are welcomed, supported, and encouraged – both one-time events/workshops, as well as regular weekly offerings.

This month, instructor Sadie Barr is offering a workshop, “Sober Yoga: The Body’s Journey in Recovery” (Saturday, April 13, 2:00-5:00pm). Sadie’s workshop is designed by someone on the sober path for others on the sober path, including those who are sober curious, self-identify as being in recovery, alcohol and drug counselors, yoga teachers, and mental health practitioners. Sadie recovered from substance addiction in 2011 and works as a Somatic Recovery Coach, integrating recovery with mindfulness, yoga philosophy, Ayurveda, western psychology, and neuroscience.

Additionally, Namaspa hosts a Recovery Yoga class every Wednesday evening, 7:00-8:00pm at the Bend Studio (find it on our all class schedule). The class embraces and integrates the universal wisdom found and experienced in the 12 Steps with yogic teachings and mindfulness. The format of the class includes yin yoga, yoga nidra, guided meditation, readings, and check-ins that provide opportunities to share and connect in community. Anyone who is sober curious or on a recovery path is welcome, and this class is suitable for beginners to yoga and meditation. The class is free and donations are welcome. Donations benefit the Namaspa Foundation.

Some additional and amazing resources and opportunities for meetings, workshops, and trainings are:

  • Embodied Recovery Community - local Clinical Somatic Practitioner, Halie Devlin, has created an online network for individuals who identify as women+ and as in recovery (the broadest definition) to gather virtually in various forms and formats;

  • PIRS by Sri Ponya - founded by local recovery advocates, activists, and mentors, Jennifer Eales and Greg Mead, Sri Ponya provides preventative, intervention-based, and recovery services in-person across Central Oregon, as well as some virtual offerings;

  • Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR) – there are currently no in-person meetings in Central Oregon, but virtual meetings are offered every day of the week;

  • Recovery 2.0 – virtual meetings are offered every day of the week;

  • Refuge Recovery – there is one local meeting in Bend (Mondays, 7pm, Trinity Episcopal Church Fireside Room; 469 NW Wall St.);

Lastly, the Namaspa Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit in Central Oregon offering yoga and mindfulness classes, to underserved, under-resourced, and socially stigmatized communities, and through bringing the ancient principles and practices of yoga postures, breathing techniques, and mindfulness to those in need across Central Oregon, the Namaspa Foundation is creating pathways for true recovery – both within formal addiction treatment programs, as well as in many other settings. Email us at if you’re interested in learning more about our programs in the community, feel inspired to join our community of Foundation teachers, or want to make a financial contribution to support the programs of the Foundation.

We hope you’ll join us in this rethinking, redefining, and reclaiming of recovery to mean so much more than it does on the surface. And if anything in your mind, heart, or Spirit has been sparked by this blog post, we hope you’ll join Sadie’s workshop and/or come check out one of our weekly Recovery Yoga offerings – these gatherings (and our incredible facilitators and teachers) are the best, most open and welcoming spaces to ask questions, explore, and connect with others on the journey.

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