Interviewed by Wendy Lee Nentwig
Durga’s story is a common one: She was raised in an alcoholic home and later developed a drinking problem of her own. Of course, alcoholism and addiction aren’t really about the substances themselves. Sometimes, these issues can develop as the result of a spiritual longing, manifesting themselves as cravings. Durga had always been a seeker type, looking for something more to give her purpose in life. She found yoga, and was drawn to pursue it, even though she continued drinking. Fortunately, over a period of time she realized that alcoholism and yoga were incompatible, and she began her own personal recovery journey.
Durga devoted herself to overcoming her addiction and getting her mind and body healthy. At the time, she remembers looking at 12-step groups and thinking they were dowdy, while yoga was more interesting, so she chose it as a softer, easier way to heal. When she woke up from addiction, she found her whole system needed to be regulated. Post-sobriety, Durga found yoga was there for her in new ways now that she could approach the practice with a clear head.
After about 18 months of sobriety, medical professionals wanted to medicate Durga for depression, but she felt like she was being birthed into a new life and chose to pursue a more natural path. Yoga continued to be a way for her to find herself, and Durga expanded her knowledge by studying Ayurveda, the medical side of yoga, which deals with balancing the body. She studied in California and then headed to India to authenticate her experience.
Durga found herself using Ayurveda throughout every minute of her day, and she was using it not to cure illness once it happened but instead relying on it before she became sick. The entire process was a forward progression toward something that was blossoming. Today, she continues to share what she learned with others through her California-based business, The Yoga of Recovery.
She works with people ranging in age from 16 to 84, some overcoming addiction, others just finding their lives are becoming unmanageable. They may have practiced the physical side of yoga and know how good it makes them feel, and they want to build a lifestyle around that. Yoga sees potential and the veils over that potential, and it helps us lift those veils.
Yoga was Durga’s path to sobriety and recovery, but as the years have gone by she now sees many parallels between yoga and traditional 12-step groups. While the practice and poses may be different, the message is very similar.