Notes from our Programs: One Breath at a Time - Drug and Alcohol Rehab Yoga Class

Hayley Parlen, Niroga Yoga Corps Teacher and Program Manager

For the last three weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching yoga at one of our drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Oakland. It is very inspiring to watch a group of individuals going through detox and withdrawals, let their guards down, put their trust in me as well as their own breath, and find a place of total peace and relaxation within themselves.

Today was especially inspiring. One of the women there, I noticed, was not breathing properly. During rhythmic belly breathing, I noticed that, as she inhaled, she was sucking in the belly and lifting her chest. I kneeled down beside her and asked her to put all of her attention on her belly, relax it completely, and take a breath in. As she did this, I saw her belly rise, and I said, "That's it! That is the proper way to breathe." She looked up at me and shook her head, stunned that all of these years she was not breathing properly.

After class she came up to me, and told me that the change in breathing made a big difference. In just one hour, she learned not only how to breathe properly, but to use the calming ways of the breath to relax her mind. She went on to say that she truly felt the benefits of conscious breathing and will continue working with it on her own. It was a joy to see the peace and clarity that emanated from her eyes. Breathing induced relaxation will be a helpful tool and a step forward in her recovery process.