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Addiction: A path ahead through yoga

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Lindsay Dolan | Benjamin Weatherston

Lindsay Dolan | Benjamin Weatherston

By Lynn Monson

Lindsay Dolan found peace and healing when she took a yoga class while in a detox center for alcohol abuse two years ago.

“I actually felt good there,” she said, “which isn’t something you’re used to doing when you’re doing destructive drinking and habits.”

Dolan, 33, began to practice yoga regularly after she discovered a mindfulness that helped calm the drinking demons that had been with her since she was a child in an alcoholic family. As an adult she had become what she calls “a blackout drunk,” often drinking all night until the sun came up, then sometimes not knowing where she was when she awoke.

“Now that I look back on my life, I don’t remember a lot,” Dolan said. “The last two years I can say I remember every day. I have the strength to wake up and stay in the day and ask for guidance to stay sober today. It’s actually really powerful. I’ve never been sober this long in my life. It’s all new.”

Yoga and meditation were like medicine for her soul.

“Let go of the outside world, let go of your thoughts, and really just be with the present moment. And honoring however you feel … not judging yourself, accepting where you’re at. Noticing your breath and your breathing.

“The most important thing we do during the day is breathe and that can calm us down. … We’re so go-go-go-go all day, we don’t slow down. And yoga really slows us down, so we can be mindful and conscious of how we treat ourselves and others.”

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It was such a help in her recovery, Dolan began to think of how she could pass along the benefits to others. Using a model from California, she envisioned a yoga-based holistic care center in the Ann Arbor area that would mesh with 12-step recovery programs. With help from friends, in 2015 she established a nonprofit organization, the Recovery-Infused Yoga Community Center, and became executive director. She’s teaching recovery yoga classes at several existing yoga locations around Ann Arbor, with plans to have a recovery house of her own.

The treasurer of her organization’s board, Aaron Siegfried, said it’s in the grant-writing phase and investigating possible partnerships with community agencies. For example, people who are early in recovery could be assigned to the group’s transitional housing by the local sobriety court. Accessibility and affordability will be important parts of the program, Siegfried said.

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