Today marks the fourth year of my yoga practice, and my fourth year of sobriety.
Four years ago, I walked into Bright Heart Yoga Studio in Cupertino and I took my first yoga class since high school. Words cannot express the profound impact that the studio space and the practice of yoga has had on me; what can express it are the life changes I’ve established in the time since I began at Bright Heart.
I led a self-destructive lifestyle through my twenties. These years have been catalogued and documented in my music, my writing, and my memory. When I first came into Bright Heart, my life had been flooded with dark, deeply rooted issues that I felt I could never overcome. Still, I was determined to start a new existence—one without drugs, drinking, self hatred, depression, and being constantly held hostage by my mind. Bright Heart provided the space for me to start working my way through the darkness, and the last four years have flown by with a momentum that feels closer to a decade.
I never went to meetings for my sobriety; NA and AA weren’t right for me—though I don’t discredit or deny the impact that those groups have had on so many people. Instead, yoga became my meetings; Bright Heart became my safe space for establishing my personal growth. My yoga practice laid the foundation for my fitness routine, my meditation, self inquiry, healthy eating habits . . . It fostered the gradual evolution of my true potential, and helped me create a new life, one worth living.
In the past four years, I’ve come closer to truly understanding myself than the previous twenty eight years combined. Yet those dark and dangerous times were essential, too: I needed all those years of self-hatred and abuse; years of struggle and self-sabotage; I needed to fall apart, to self-destruct, to bring myself right to the edge and say . . . “Okay, now it’s time to change.” For me, yoga at Bright Heart was the catalyst of that change. I teach yoga now, because I want to share the power of the practice, to help others like I was helped.
Four years of sobriety is a big accomplishment—but at the same time, four years isn’t long at all when you’re going for a lifetime of being drug free. As anyone in recovery will tell you, there’s no finish line; it’s a continual process, one that requires mindfulness and self-accountability. For me, my yoga practice at Bright Heart has been the biggest factor in my recovery, and continues to play the biggest role in my personal and spiritual growth.
I rarely contrast my old life with the life I lead now, because it seems unreal, too overwhelmingly extreme. I feel separated from who I once was. At this point, I’ve lived multiple lives. But today, I am leading my best one, absolutely.