Yoga for Recovery a Free Community Service at Hot or Not

Sep 28, 2016
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Recovery is a process. Yoga, both in movement and in stillness, can open pathways to healing along the way.

Yoga for Recovery is a free course offered at Hot or Not Yoga in Manahawkin three times a week to help those in the community who are pursuing recovery – from anything, be it addiction, abuse, illness, loss. Family members of those in recovery may also find it helpful.

“We didn’t want to define it,” General Manager Rebecca Gee said. Rather, organizers wanted to make it inclusive for people struggling with any form of dependency or grief.

The classes are Mondays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Fridays at 5:15 p.m. Instructors Kevin Corey and Rose Dease take different approaches. Corey is a planner; Dease likes to wing it. (“It always works out,” she said with a grin. For her, the beauty of recovery is trust, she said.)

Dease’s class is more physically active (hatha) and deliberately patterned, to substitute the maladaptive rituals to which addicts tend to gravitate in response to restless tendencies, she explained. Corey’s is more meditative, a time to sit and listen in quiet reflection and to work on “un-becoming all that we think we are.” The purpose of the path of yoga is to be able to sit in meditation, he said. Whereas asanas stimulate the body, meditation teaches the practitioner to let feelings enter the mind and not to be afraid. Corey guides students to their so-called happy place – “everyone has one,” he said. Ideally, the practice produces a feeling of gratitude and general contentment. True serenity.

The free course is sponsored by Hot or Not owners Sam and Tom Kelly, who also own Kapler’s Pharmacy in Beach Haven, Medicine Solutions in Manahawkin and Medicine to Go in Forked River.

In the pharmacy business, they see so much in the way of addiction, not just to prescription medications, but also to food, alcohol and other substances, Gee said. “This is something they know their patients need,” she said. Yoga ultimately teaches coping skills for a more peaceful and productive life.

The studio environment is a safe and friendly place to meet and share, Gee said – one that, most importantly, fosters understanding.

As a service to the community, “it’s building momentum,” Gee said. Attendance has grown from one to over a dozen in the first couple of weeks, confirming the need. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

To show yoga as an essential component of an overall wellness picture, Hot or Not is bringing the health aspect to the fore by offering month-long series on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., focusing on various topics: September has been “Back to Basics”; October is “Yoga and Healing,” specifically for cancers; November will be about yoga’s role in boosting memory; and December will be “De-Stress the Season,” i.e., help quell holiday-related anxiety and seasonal affective disorder.

The Hot or Not team is proud of the new program and has enjoyed planning and setting it up and seeing it flourish. “What we wanted to happen is happening,” Gee said, and that’s very gratifying.

Both instructors took a few moments one recent afternoon to sit in the courtyard behind Hot or Not and share some of their experience and insight.

Corey turned away from substances at the age of 17. Dease has been sober five years. For both, yoga is an access point to inner strength and wisdom and an integral part of healing every day. They present and share their practices as an alternative, or an addition, to conventional methods of recovery – because 12-step programs, while effective for many, are not for everyone, and they’re not the only way. Some who explore the 12-step route find they are turned off by what they perceive as a certain religious undertone or a guilt-centered message, they pointed out.

Yoga for Recovery is a more self-directed spiritual endeavor, one based on a simple principle: “Be a good person,” Dease said.

The objective of the course is to remind people they are strong enough: to forgive, to let go, to shine.

Each person is a light bulb, Corey said, bright and brilliant at birth, but over time, the stressors and negative messages in life layer shades over the bulb that dim its light. Yoga and meditation can help to remove the shades one by one, allowing the light to shine brightly once again.

As Gee had described: “It’s about knowing yourself.”

Yoga takes discipline, but the reward is discovering a better version of oneself, according to Corey. It requires a willingness to put in the time and the work – to show up, to be present. A willingness to believe everything that has ever happened has led to the present moment and, therefore, to regret nothing. Involve the Self in the process. But first, forgive.

Forgiveness, of oneself and others is an unburdening, the yogis say. Let go of what no longer serves. Releasing grudges and resentments is a step toward learning to love limitlessly.

“Your job in this life is not to make everyone love you,” Corey said. “Your job in this life is to make you love you.”

Yoga and meditation are tools for recognizing fluctuations in one’s mind state, Corey said, for finding the middle way. He encourages students to devise a realistic daily practice to work through turmoil and internal noise and find balance and peace.

A daily practice is important because the process is ever ongoing, they said. Virtues such as patience, compassion, acceptance and non-judgment don’t come in a pretty red box that gets unwrapped once and kept forever. They are gifts that must be reopened every day.

So, Corey said, find something realistic, create a moment in time every day, a moment of clarity, and bask in it. Stretch it out.

The direction of the Yoga for Recovery course is “whatever direction it needs to go, based on the need to heal,” Corey said.

Hot or Not is located at 8 North Union St. in “old” Manahawkin. For more information, call 855-726-8674 or visit hotornotyoga.com.

— Victoria Ford

victoria@thesandpaper.net

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