Teaching Yoga to Detox Patients


As a yoga instructor it is amazing the different experiences that come into your life over the years. One teaching experience that stands out was a job I had at a Drug/Alcohol Detox center. The woman who hired me was an amazing art therapist and she prepared me for the emotional darkness a lot of these people would be in. When I came in to teach my first session I was met with a small group of patients with completely different body types and physical abilities, and all at various levels of detoxing from alcohol, heavier drugs like heroine and cocaine, and prescription painkiller pills. Realizing that the physical yoga class I had prepared would not work, I took a note from my work with elementary school kids and had everyone circle up on the floor. I introduced myself and asked everyone to introduce themselves, give me a quick emotional/physical check in and tell me any type of physical activity they had a connection to. I then led the first version of a thirty minute, guided, breath meditation, inviting everyone to get comfortable on the ground or a couch, close their eyes and follow the sound of my voice. I had never led something exactly like this before, but I let the people in front of me and the serious life predicament they found themselves in lead the way. Over time I developed a script that started with a basic scan of the body, led into deep breathing and then mapped out how a mindful practice could help them ground during this turbulent time. I would play calming Native American flute music while I taught and people would often drift off into sleep. At the end they would always report it being the most relaxed that they had felt in a long time. Watching others catch glimpses of peace in the trenches of addiction provided so much perspective on my work and on life in general. I hope that some positive seeds took root and I wish my very best to every person that I came into contact with. May we all carry ourselves in dignity through our hardships and trials 🙏🏽 And friends, always remember the power of your breath to calm your body and center your mind.

Much Love,


James

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