Learn How Yoga Helps in Addiction Recovery with Tommy Rosen [Interview]

tommy rosenTommy Rosen is an internationally-recognized yoga teacher and very well known addiction recovery expert. He has spent over two decades immersed in yoga, recovery and wellness. He holds advanced certifications in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga. Tommy can offer an expert perspective on the science of healing and the fitness and nutrition tips.

YogaCurious conducted an interview with Tommy Rosen in which he shared precious information on addiction recovery with yoga and meditation. Here we go!

Note: After reading Tommy Rosen’s interview, if you still has any question for him. Do write here by comment.

Yetta: First of all thank you for your time to consider YogaCurious to share your experience. Let’s begin our interview with first question, How you started your journey in Yoga?

Tommy: How I found yoga—and fell in love with it—is somewhat serendipitous. Basically, in 1991 I walked off the street into Janet Macleod’s Iyengar class in San Francisco. I had never seen a person move with so much freedom. It was an outward representation of something I greatly desired within.  My practice and focus was very physical for a long time.  I saw yoga as a great detox, release of stress and a strength builder.  It would not be for many years that I would understand the deeper meaning and power it held.

Yetta: How did you discover the importance of yoga in addiction recovery?

Tommy: I had been sober 12 years when I reached an emotional and physical bottom in my life.  It had everything to do with the way I processed the world around me.  I carried so much stress in my body.  Of course, the day would come where my body revolted.  In my case, my back went out and I was basically cripple for 9 months.  I could move, walk slowly, but could not run and had no freedom in my body.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  I was blessed to find a teacher who taught me how to breathe and how to move and how to detox at a much deeper level than I had known was possible.  I healed through this process and much more than that, I reached a stronger level of recovery.

Yetta: As an addiction recovery Yoga teacher, please share your experience about yoga as a addiction recovery tool.

Tommy: We know that people who struggle with addiction carry a deep sense of lack.  Something seems to be missing.  An itch needs to be scratched.  With acute addiction, one’s entire organism is caught up in a pursuit to fulfill needs that can never be met.  This is true for active addicts as much as it is true for people in recovery until they have been able to work out the complex roots of trauma that drives their behavior.

In the body’s hierarchy of needs, breath is #1.  We can live without food for weeks.  We can live without water for days.  But without breath (in yoga we use the term Prana or life force) for even 3 minutes, we get into real trouble.

Vinyasa yoga is the primary form of yoga practiced in the United States today.  Vinyasa simply means movement coordinated with breath, but all yoga emphasizes a focus on breathing.  Through dedicated and sometimes strenuous practice, we develop a relationship with our breath.  We come to understand that by focusing on and controlling our breath we can change how we think and feel.  We can use the breath as a vehicle for entering states of meditation and also as a means of changing our emotional state and managing stress.

By learning to do simple long deep breathing through the practice of yoga, which is accessible by almost anyone, we send a different message to our nervous system, namely that all is well and our core need is being met. This allows our body-mind system to relax and moves us toward healing, recovery and wholeness.  This counters the sense of lack that plagues most addicts.

tommy rosen recovery bookYetta: As you are going to publish your book entitled “Recovery 2.0: Overcoming Addiction and Thriving through Yoga, Meditation, and the 12 Steps”, share some information about book and how it has helped addict people to recover from it.

Tommy: My book, Recovery 2.0, is being published on October 21st (Hay House).  It is a distillation of much of what I learned in my 23 years of recovery, my time in 12 Step rooms and all the classes, workshops, retreats and trainings I have done on the yoga side of things.  It will help people to better understand addiction and take a holistic perspective on recovery.  People will have a better idea how to navigate the 12 Steps if that calls to them and also how to make them even more powerful.  And, of course, the book talks about the integration of yoga and meditation into addiction treatment.  Lastly, and this is very important, the book focuses in on the connection between the food we eat and our addictive thinking and behaviors.  This is such an important piece of the puzzle.

Yetta: Share your most memorable incident as a yoga teacher?

Tommy: My most memorable incident as a yoga teacher is not just one incident.  Every time someone tells me how their life has been changed by something I have shared, I am humbled and deeply moved.  Everything I do is because of my teachers and because of a connection with God or Higher Power or whatever your word is for that.  So, to see these teachings actually working in people’s lives is nothing short of a miracle.

Yetta: What advice will you give to people who want to start practicing (learning) yoga?

Tommy: Go slowly.  There is no rush.  First, learn how to breathe well.  This, in itself, will change your life.  Find a teacher you like and practice often.  Use props when you need to so you do not injure yourself.  Use Yoga Mats if you really want to feel comfortable while doing Yoga. Resist the temptation to compare your practice with anyone else’s.  If you do these things, great tidings are coming your way.

Yetta: What advice will you give to people who are addicted and want to recover from it?

Tommy: If you are in an active state of addiction, ask for help!!!  You may need to enter detox program and/or a primary treatment facility.  You may need to attend 12 Step meetings and work the 12 Step program. Do whatever it takes to heal from addiction so that you have a chance at living an awesome life.  Yoga can enter your life a little bit later.  First, you have to have recovery be the center of your life until you can heal.

Yetta: In today’s era, all are busy with work and personal life and use addiction as a stress-relieving tool. What advice will you give to people to stay away from addiction?

Tommy: Addiction is not a stress-relieving tool.  We act out in different ways to feel better and to relieve stress.  The problem is addictive behaviors are so destructive.  We need an upgrade.  We need to choose behaviors that relieve stress while at the same time, they strengthen our body and mind and uplift our spirit.  If you want to reach for something to feel better, that’s wonderful.  Just reach for the things that promote you rather than demote you. And if you need help, ask for it.

Yetta: Say few words for our readers…

Tommy: Inside each of you is a stillness that when accessed opens doors into the future you hope for.  Keep your practice going.  Train yourself to be still and to focus.  Build your strength, your calmness and your intuition.  Always ask for help if you need it.  Teachers lead the way.  Realize your Self in this lifetime and all blessings will be forthcoming.  I wish this for you.  Love and Gratitude…–Tommy

This interview is published under YogaCurious Interview with Expert series. If you or any one in your contact has vast experience in yoga and want to share your experience with our readers, do contact us. We would love to conduct your interview and will publish at our official blog.

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