The Yoga Sutras are the first written record of the great tradition of Yoga as practiced by the ancient sages. These sages would struggle to recognise much of what we practice today as Yoga, and would, I am sure, take a dim view on much of modern Yoga.
The Sutras were written many thousands of years ago, by Maharishi Patanjali, who did not ‘invent’ yoga, but created a written record of what was already known. The Sutras form the basis of traditional Ashtanga Yoga (not to be confused with the very physical Ashtanga Yoga that is practiced today.
This ancient wisdom has much to offer to the modern world, indeed, it could be argued that we need its insights more now than ever. I was very struck, when I was experiencing it myself, by the similarities between the path to self discovery that Yoga offers, and recovery path, whatever path you take.
Essential for recovery
There are many different ways to approach recovery from addiction. All vary in their approach and ethos but all have the same end goal…sustainable recovery, a life in which drinking (or whatever addiction you are seeking recovery from) is no longer a part of your thoughts, not drinking is not an effort, it is just how you are.
In a recent blog post, Veronica Valli listed the 5 essential components of a successful recovery program as being
- Permanent emotional change
- Meaningful connection with others
- A shift in perception
- Resolving the past
When you look beyond the postures and the Instagram pictures, yoga offers all this and more. Yoga is a way of living that offers guidance on how to live a meaningful life that nourishes and grows the whole being. It is a path to recovery of the self, of letting go of the stresses and struggles that blight the human experience, and deepening connection to the True You
According to the oxforddictionaries.com, recovery means “A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.”, and “The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.”
This is the very goal of Yoga. It is a return to the balance, harmony and equilibrium of mind, body and soul that is our birthright as human beings. It is the restoration of our connection with ourselves, and with the creator force that we are part of (however you choose to view that…Yoga, like the 12 Steps, is about spirituality, not religion)
The start of the journey
The very first Sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, as translated in my book by Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, states
“We now commence the discipline of reintegration”
In this Sutra, Patanjali tells us that we are at the start of a journey of reconnection to the Divine, to deeper connection with the truth of who we are. It is clear, in these 7 words, that this is a process that is going to require discipline, but that will help us to reunite ourselves with society, ourselves and God (divinity, universe, spirit, source, however you want to speak of it, I’m still not entirely sure what word I am comfortable with, but I can speak of it somehow now). We are beginning NOW, there is no better, or indeed, no other time to begin.
Recovery, like the spiritual path, it a lifelong process, and can be a very difficult journey at times, but one which offers great rewards to those willing to do the work, dig deep into themselves and embrace the possibilities.
I will explore the Sutras in relation to recovery over the coming months, as I revisit them in my own self study practice. I will post my reflections on each sutra here and invite you to comment.
The Shakti Lounge is my brand new membership club for women who are in search of healing, personal growth and recovery. While it is not exclusively focused on recovery from addiction, the tools I will be teaching in the club will be the same tools that led me to recovery after 20 years of addiction.
The club is launching on March 8, International Women’s Day. You can find out more about the club here, and if you register to view my webinar on self forgiveness and compassion, you can get a taste for my style of teaching, and a special discount offer on membership!