Strung out Yogi: From Yoga Poses to Poise

Strung out Yogi: From Yoga Poses to Poise

is such an all-consuming, powerful mind altering drug, that rarely does anyone walk away unmarked by its destructive power.

I’ll never forget the face of the tiny Russian yogi, my teacher as she tried to get me to stay awake for my private lesson on that very last day I showed up for yoga teachers training. I never saw her again, but I can still see that look of disappointment that flashed over her when it dawned on her that I was high. I was a serious addict, and I’d just got caught.

I was humiliated when I sobered up, to ashamed to show my face at school again. The dedication and kindness she showed me in her tutelage was unparalleled. Everything inside me wanted to be just like her, and even though I studied and practices religiously, I knew deep down inside me that I would have zero chance of spiritual success.

I knew all the answers to the spiritual philosophies directed at me academically; however I was still failing in almost all the behaviors and practices of a yogi, making me a hypocrite. My life embodied nothing spiritual.

In addition to hiding my secret of a full blown drug addiction, I also hid from the teacher and the rest of my class that I was a topless dancer. Many wild nights of dancing, massive quantities of drugs, and debauchery was a lifestyle for me, not just a mistake I made once that I’d later regret.

I can still see myself sitting in a cross-legged pose, palms up trying desperately to hear what my teacher was saying to me. I fought hard to erase the fog of a four-day binge on the Crystal Meth, where I had just spent over twenty-four hours in a state of psychosis digging a hole in the wall with a fork. I had done so much ice that week that I was convinced there was a murder weapon in the wall. I was frantic to find it; so that I’d have the leverage to bargain with if the killers came back for it.

I still twinge with shame at the very idea that twenty some years ago I had the audacity to try to obtain my Yoga Teacher Training Certification at the same time as I was a hard core Crystal Meth addict.

The shame did not steam from the embarrassment of toppling over wasted in some disaster pose, for the precise opposite was true, I excelled at every pose, and I knew the answer to every question from Anatomy to Sanskrit backwards and forwards. The physical elements of school were not where I was a failing.

The shame came from the spiritual truth that yoga had little to do with athletic ability. I had an unfair advantage over my classmates; I already performed gymnastics and acrobatics in my secret nightlife job. I had advanced physical endurance, maximum muscular power and flexibility from my years as an adult entertainer. I was built like athlete.

The physical elements of teachers training was almost too easy to master. I knew deep inside that yoga was not about being able to master a pose, being able to hold poses only accounts for about ten percent of . It is instead a lifelong practice of making time daily to soothe both the spirit and the mind. This is done by focusing on the breath and putting aside the physical distractions of daily life.

I knew that yoga was a mindset not a practice. A true yogi is a master of grace and humility and I was neither. If you can imagine, the life of entertainment is catty, and competitive. There is a certain amount of vanity involved in taking off your clothes both in front of a thousand men, and in front of some of the most beautiful women ever.

It would be more accurate to describe me at the time as loud, bold and blunt. My ego and my ambitions were equally large, unfortunately so was my drug addiction. I must still make an effort to turn down the volume of my voice.

I knew I should not be a yoga instructor ever, even after the first class. It seemed too easy to fool people into believing I was a good student, but I wasn’t. There was not a serene or calm bone in my body. There was nothing peaceful about me or my life, I was a spiritual fraud.

It took me twenty years to be able to meditate for 30 minutes, though I had been certified in it, for many years. My mind and by body was so imbalanced that for years the only way I could relax enough to close my eyes and breath was in the Fetal Position, praying.

I am no longer able to execute physical moves with perfection now; however I am now a better yogi than I ever was when I practiced it formally. I now know that yoga has little to do with mastering anything athletic.

My teacher’s voice comes back to me like a whisper in the wind, “Don’t try so hard, Tania yoga is meant to be done without effort. ” Yoga is about inner peace not competition. It is not about proving your capabilities to anyone, academically or otherwise.

It is about developing internal power, so that one has the tools and awareness to counter the stressful events in life more effectively. So far with daily I’ve eliminated 215,000 negative thoughts by focusing on my breath alone in less than three months. Anyone can.