Two women kneel next to one another on mats, doing yoga

Sober in the City: Yoga is Not a Cure-All, But It Helps

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Though yoga was a big part of my life when I was drinking, it has also been a significant part of my recovery.

Pre-COVID, I attended a Yoginis Only (aka Women Only) yoga class at SWEAT Yoga in TriBeCa. This vigorous, heated flow was taught by the lovely Sarrah Strimel. She guided a diverse group of students through an hour-long practice while we rocked out to an all-female playlist: 4 Non Blondes, Madonna, Meredith Brooks, Lady Gaga, and of course, Beyonce.

Back in my party girl days, my Friday nights consisted of pre-gaming (drinking in preparation for more drinking), getting dressed up to impress potential hook ups, hopping from bar to bar, then driving home drunk at 2:30am. My Saturday mornings, predictably, were full of headaches and regret.

Zoom back to my sobriety — for this yoga class, my pre-game consisted of putting on a pair of herringbone patterned yoga pants, a funky sports bra, and a daisy chain headband. Afterward, I took the train home and was in bed by 10:30. I woke up refreshed, although my quads were definitely feeling a little yoga hungover.

I started practicing yoga five years ago, when I was drinking heavily and living in my hometown of Waco, Texas. While I never went to a workout after drinking, I’ve done my fair share of drunken yoga poses. From headstands on the filthy streets of Austin to arm balances on bar tops in Houston, and many, many places in between.

Back then, I frequently tested my balance throughout a night of binge drinking by doing headstands sporadically throughout the night. If I can stand on my head, I’m not THAT drunk! True story. That was the excuse I used to keep drinking. And drinking. And drinking. Until I would pass out and wake up too hungover to consider doing any form of exercise, let alone headstands.

If I can stand on my head, I’m not THAT drunk! True story. That was the excuse I used to keep drinking. And drinking. And drinking.

On November 30th, 2015, I quit drinking. Though yoga was a big part of my life when I was drinking, it has also been a significant part of my recovery. The less I drank, the more I could focus on my practice. Sobriety (paired with weekly therapy) has helped me realize why I abused alcohol: depression and anxiety. I was depressed about my life, my job, my relationships, how I looked… and the list goes on and on. I was anxious about not being “good” enough. Not being “fit” enough. Not being “smart” enough. But when I finally stopped drinking, I saw life from the other side. I could finally see and accept myself without constantly trying to change.

At the end of the class, Sarrah had us repeat a series of affirmations:

“I will let my voice be heard. I will not be silenced. My body is beautiful just the way it is. I am worthy.” Being in that room with 30 other women while repeating those powerful words left such a lasting impression on me. I am good enough. I am fit enough. I am smart enough.

I am… enough.

A future free of addiction is in your hands.

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Tawny is an NYC-based millennial who writes about the intersection of sex and sobriety. Her work is featured in Playboy, Men’s Health, Huffington Post, Writer’s Digest, and more. She is the co-host of Recovery Rocks podcast and the story developer for the Webby-Award-winning podcast, F*cking Sober.

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