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Handling unexpected life changes

You never know when your life is going to get side-tracked. People say your life can change in an instant. Sometimes that “instant” might take a month or so to evolve and change your life but it has a major impact. Back in February, my Dad had a pretty bad fall. In fact, he had several falls he hadn’t told us about - but this one was pretty bad. He refused to go to the hospital when my Mom got him inside. Without going into specifics to protect my Dad’s privacy - and to make a long story short - my Dad refused help and gradually stopped eating and taking care of himself. On his 78th birthday in March, my sister, my Mom and I did a sort of intervention and called an ambulance. He could have refused to go to the hospital, but he went. My Dad has been an alcoholic most of my life - from at least age 12 onward. He had decided to quit drinking after 35 years or so on his own - which you cannot do. Despite our acceptance of alcohol in this culture - it has the potential to be an extremely dangerous drug. Once the brain is physically addicted to alcohol, you cannot stop drinking on your own without help - you need medical intervention or you could die. My Dad ended up spending a week in the hospital and 2 weeks in rehab getting physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy (to help with swallowing). Since March, I’ve spent many weekends traveling back and forth between Salisbury and Anne Arundel County to help my parents. I have neglected my yoga therapy business in a big way - Although I’ve kept my classes up - I haven’t been able to develop new workshops or take on additional clients or work. It’s quite a blow to be 50 years old - supposedly at the height of your career, only your career is failing because you just picked up and moved to a new place a year before - and then, suddenly, you have a new role as caregiver to your family.

My Dad has now been sober for 3 months. A short time in the scheme of things. We don’t know where this is going to go from here. But, I feel like I have a second chance at having some sort of sober relationship with him, and that is a blessing that deserves my attention. May was mental health awareness month. My Dad suffers from depression and alcohol has been his numbing drug of choice for many years - numbing the trauma from his childhood. Of course, alcohol is also a depressant so it creates a vicious cycle, and addiction causes your brain to become alcohol-dependent.

I’m writing this on my yoga blog in part to explain my absence from blogging, and in part to share my own experience with alcoholism,depression and care-giving. Yoga can also absolutely help with both recovery and with self-care. Nikki Myers developed “Yoga of 12 step recovery” from her own personal journey of addiction and relapse. Yoga is now used in many recovery programs. I gave my Dad some tools to help with his recovery such as breathing exercises and the simple practice of offering gratitude when he wakes up in the morning - finding one thing to be grateful for in your life. In the meantime, as I adapt to this new role, I continue to do my own self-care practice of yoga, pranayama and meditation every single day. I hope to be able to re-focus and begin giving my yoga therapy practice more time as well. I am planning to offer my first Yoga Therapy Teacher training beginning in October 2019. This is a training designed specifically to help health professionals in the medical and mental health field and caregivers learn how to use the tools of yoga in their practice. You can learn more about my training on the Teacher Training page here:

If you are interested in how yoga can help with recovery from addiction, check out Nikki Meyer’s website at: Namaste.

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