Photo courtesy of Rosie Mulford.
East meets West in Rosie Mulford’s new class series, Yoga and the 12 Steps, at Asheville Yoga Center. Mulford hopes to utilize the “ancient tools of yoga” and the 12-step program to address addiction in all of its forms. “For those who feel hopeless in addiction, it is important to note that we are all addicted to something,” says Mulford. “We chase desires and comfort. But it’s more important to know that there is hope, and there is a way out.”
Xpress asked Mulford to explain how yoga and the 12-step program work together to end addiction and what prospective students can expect from the series.
Mountain Xpress: What makes these two healing modalities a good match?
Rosie Mulford: Ancient yogic wisdom combined with the more modern 12-step principles enhances the recovery process. For any spiritual path to be effective, it must provide a means for one to transform. It must provide a method to help the individual awaken from illusion — constantly giving into cravings and desires and thus forming a self-image based on that — into the reality of life.
The yamas and niyamas — part of the eightfold path of yoga — as described by Patanjali (the sage credited with having written this eightfold path), show us how to break down old systems of behavior and replace them with new ones so that we are liberated from addiction or habits that no longer serve us. Through the asana [yoga poses] we learn how stored tension in the body affects our mind and our actions.
What would a typical class session entail?
We will have six Sunday classes, each one lasting 90 minutes. Each class will start with a presentation of two steps and how they correlate to yoga. Then we will share a class of basic asana [yoga poses]. The idea of the class is to actually mimic life outside right there on the mats, so that we can practice reactions to our feelings.
For example, we will hold a pose a little longer than is normally comfortable. We resist the urge to pull out at the very first sign of discomfort, knowing that our bodies are safe, and we start to learn that we are very capable of sitting in that discomfort. Typically, at the first sign of discomfort, we run to whatever it is that will alleviate our discomfort — alcohol, drugs, food. This helps us in our real life by familiarizing ourselves with these feelings and how to react to them without seeking immediate gratification.
What inspired you to teach this type of class?
When I did my first teacher training, I had already been practicing the 12 steps for 17 years. I had also been practicing the physical aspects of yoga. I was astounded to realize the similarities of the yogic philosophy and the 12 step principles. It was as if the last piece of a puzzle had finally been put into place. It motivated me to delve deeper into researching it, and I started teaching my classes incorporating the two. Basically, both are codes for living.
What else should people know about the series?
Know that you have a job to do in this life, and if you are restricted by always giving into your addictions, desires and cravings, then you will not be free to do the job you were put here to do. I believe this class can begin to teach anyone how to start that path.
Yoga and the 12 Steps is a 6-week class series. The first class session takes place on March 2 at Asheville Yoga Center at 211 Liberty St. $45 for the series. Learn more and register here.