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We know Yoga helps in recovery, but how? Mel’s Story

Yoga My Savior: Mel’s Story

Jayne Hembruff currently offers a wonderful inpatient yoga program at Grand River Hospital on the Specialized Mental Health Unit. Jayne applies trauma?sensitive? and therpaeutic principles to design a class that fosters self-awareness, self-care and self-regulation. Classes are welcoming and enjoyable. Individuals who have experienced it report benefiting from a trauma-sensative experience, which provides them with all the tools they need to face the ups and downs of life.

My name is Mel and I am 32; I completed a three-month program recently at an inpatient rehabilitation center, after a ten-year-long addiction to prescription pills. I first came across these pills at a friend?s house. I was anxious about my exams at college, so much so that I would suffer frequently from panic attacks. One weekend, while I was visiting a friend, she said that she took benzodiazepines to calm down before exams. She gave me a few pills and surprisingly, I found that they did quell my anxiety, as did alcohol, which I used to drink secretly at nights. I soon began buying more pills from friends at my campus. I was hooked and I was unable to sleep or face the world every day, unless I had my daily dose.

During Thanksgiving break two years ago, my mom found my pills in my bag and asked me about them. Mom and I have always had an open relationship so I didn?t hide the fact that I was using these pills to stay calm and survive life stress. When she found out how many I was taking, and discovered I was drinking too, she asked me to see our family doctor. He explained that anxiety and depression need to be treated by a specialist and that successful treatments for anxiety did not always involved medication. I admitted to the doctor that I was dependent on alcohol as well, and he suggested rehab.

At rehab, I learned a lot of important things about anxiety; how it is a trick that invokes your body?s fight or flight response, making you think like you are in grave danger when in fact you are only being called upon to face a stressful situation.?I was lucky, since the rehab center offered yoga, which I took to like a fish to water. When I was tempted to take pills, I would always do yoga in my room, using breathing and mindful meditation to banish worrisome thoughts and to lower my heart rate and feel a beautiful sense of calm.

I am pleased to say that I no longer use drugs and alcohol. Instead, I continue to do yoga and have managed to get my life back on track. I work as a writer now and am also back at college studying part time. I realize now that failing an exam is not the worst thing that could happen in life. After all, all you need to do when you fall is get up again and try your very best to succeed the second time around.


As part of my own recovery from addiction, I was encouraged to try different types of activities to relax, unwind and refocus outside of my therapy sessions. One of these was yoga. Of course, many people already know the great health physical health benefits it gives, but we’re only just coming to fully understand how it can also really benefit people who are in recovery from addiction or other mental traumas. You can read about this here: http://www.recovery.org/pro/articles/we-know-yoga-helps-people-in-recovery-but-how/