11th Step Yoga

I made it to my yoga class tonight. Dirty and tired and sore and BADLY needing it.

I love yoga, but I live in a yoga wasteland. Truth be told it only takes me about 20 minutes  or so to drive to an area where there is a  good yoga place on every corner, kinda like Starbucks.  But after the practice I generally want to come home and fall into bed. When I go on Sunday nights I don’t get home until after 10 and after the drive I’m all wide awake again.

It’s serving me tonight to  have the energy to write, but when I move closer there will be a plethora of yoga places to choose from, all within spitting disyance of my new place.

That is going to be so good! I am so looking forward to starting a real yoga practice, where I can take 2-3 classes per week and work on some of my specific issues in a more focused way. I have balance and coordination problems, and I need to build my strength.  I have a friend who works at a gym near my new place too, who has offered to help me train. That is more intimidating to me, but I am definitely thinking about it. It seems like just moving 10 miles away is going to open up so many more opportunities for me…I am counting on it.

The yoga class I take on Sunday evening will be a staple though. It is a bit different. It focuses on the 11th Step of AA : ” Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out”.

When I first started going to this class I was in a very uncomfortable place in my sobriety. I had been sober just a tad over a year.  I constantly heard that this is a spiritual program, but I could not reconcile that with my unbelieving ways. I worked through the steps, giving lip-service to anything having to do with god or a higher power. I just didn’t get it. Not only did I not get it, I fought it. I hated the idea of a higher power in any way other than the simple fact that for years I had made drinking my higher power….so I had to cop to that one.   My progression to being willing to go to an 11th step yoga class came because I was stalled and I was getting into enough pain, once again, to do something about it. I figured at the very least I’d get a yoga class, and the price was right…free-will donation ( 7th tradition). The teachers are not paid and we just had to make enough to pay the yoga studio. I also made a decision to stop fighting and just be open…my word for this year, chosen partly because of the way this class was helping me to do that, to be open to new ideas and ways of looking at things.

I loved the class right from the start. The teacher, Abby, an awesome sober woman close to my age just rocked. She had so much recovery and such an easy and funny way of sharing it that I was able to listen. And she would lead us, in shevasana, into the best meditations, a practice that totally eluded me (and which I still have to work on). I kept going back, through changes of studios, introduction of new teachers (though Abby is still main, gotta shout out to Amy and Frankie), through ebb and flow of the class size. Right now we are looking at changing studios again because we are big…there were probably 35 people there tonite.

I kept going back because each week I took away something. Sometimes intangible, sometimes very active, sometimes only lasting until I got home and other times speaking to me all week. And I was doing yoga at home. And I was meditating on my own.. I was open to this change that was happening, I gave up the fight. Now I finally understand the spiritual aspect of the program, AS I SEE IT. I can not emphasize enough that the concept of a Higher Power is incredibly personal and does not have to be “god” or jesus or Allah or whoever. It can be IT, it can be she, it can be just a small place in your own self that is better….it can be anything.  I NEVER believed that. I always felt that there was an underlying Christian bent to AA that would eventually cause me to leave. In finally believing that there truly was a Higher Power of my own understanding,  my entire program has been enhanced and changed, and I am so grateful for that.

I feel myself caught up in the flow of something bigger than me.  I don’t take coincidences for granted, and I listen for the answer when I have a question, because I get answers. After the practice we have a mini- meeting, and tonite a friend called up the words of the 11th step……pointing out that the first word is “sought”. That’s all we have to do, to seek. And if you are seeking you are not fighting and you are trying new things and looking for answers to the riddle of conscious contact. Those answers may elude you, and so you seek some more, and some more because you are asking the question : what is it? why am I here? what is my purpose? why am I going through this experience? how will I use it to help someone else?

There are so many questions and no real answers outside our own higher selves. So we dig deep, and seek that place in each of us that we can listen to and believe. We seek that, and then we move ahead, trusting that our higher purpose will also be revealed.

It’s a big leap. A leap of faith, right? One that we take when we pray and meditate, when we ask and seek. The world is huge, life is huge, but our inner, spiritual self is huger. This practice has opened me in so many ways and continues to as long as I work it. I wish all my  friends could try it.  Actually they can…it is an open practice for anyone with any kind of addiction, and most of us can scare something up!  I live in the place where it started and thrives. I would love to see it expand, and I have thought that maybe that might be a place where I could help, be used. I don’t know.

I only know that today I am a seeker, I am open to exploring the bigger mysteries of life, and death, of who and why we are. It’s a privilege to be able to do that, and it all started in my 11th step yoga practice. I am very grateful for that.



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  1. Sounds like you needed a change in perception of what something was to keep going.
    Glad you found it!
    I tried yoga twice. I learned that I am not flexible.
    ah well…

    My girl wants to try it again, so I guess I’ll get to enjoy the pain of that lesson all over again.
    Yipee! 😉

  2. change of perception was exactly what I needed….an opening of the mind!
    There was this kid in clas last night, buff, athlete, maybe 21…at the end he was sying he has never sweated so hard, or done anything as hard in all his years of football, workouts, etc. men don’t seem to be as bendy, I need more flexibility, but that’s just because I’m old. I do pretty well though….might as well give it another shot, especially to keep your GF happy!

  3. Wow. Love this post. Had heard of step-inspired yoga before, but only in passing (and in California…they have everything). So cool that you found a class near you and that you’ve gotten so much out of it. I’m excited to read your excitement about being closer to yoga classes and being able to practice more. I know this moving process has been really stressful, and it’s so nice to see these big glimmers of hope ahead.

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