Finding peace with yoga began for yoga instructor Andrew Santry a few years after he incorporated the 12 Steps into his life. Andrew had no interest in yoga, but attended a Yoga 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR) class with a friend and got hooked. It was another tool to help guide him through recovery.
Yoga came naturally for Santry. During his first Y12SR meeting, his knack for yoga impressed his spaceholder (or, “leader”). At that point in his life, Santry was stuck between two mentalities: “a narcissist with an inferiority complex.” At times, he felt he could do anything, but often, the nagging demons put a damper on his inflated ego. It was a struggle to maintain confidence. But after three months of meetings and classes, Santry found inner peace.
Finding peace with yoga opened my mind
“I also became more aware and open-minded to other people, their actions, and their beliefs,” Santry said. Prior to finding peace with yoga, he admitted to feeling disconnected and judgmental of others who demonstrated different practices. However, once he accepted the diversity yoga brought to his life, he realized that as long as these different practices are helping other people, there’s no reason to feel such negativity.
Yoga is more than poses
Yoga is difficult; there’s no doubt. But with hard work and countless hours of reading and studying, Santry earned certifications in Y12SR, Love Your Brain (yoga for traumatic brain injury), Prison Yoga Project (PYP), and Yogalete (yoga for the athlete). As Y12SR helped him thrive in recovery, he is appreciative for the ability to find his own peace each day and to help others find theirs as well.
Meditation also brings peace
It takes time to grasp various aspects of yoga. It can be easy to feel deterred when starting out because they can feel foreign. There are unusual terms to be learned and vulnerable poses used in particular practices. Meditation, too, can be daunting due to the belief that to successfully mediate is to have a completely silent mind. Santry realized that’s not the case.
Meditation is a big part of helping people find their peace. And there are plenty of guided meditations that can be applied to every day emotions. To successfully meditate means to be able to track breathing and control wandering thoughts. Once the ability to track thoughts and emotions has been mastered during meditation, the process can be applied to life outside of the yoga studio. Santry said it helped him find the peace of mind and awareness he never used to have.
“For the first time, I’m at peace with not knowing where this is going to go.” Santry takes each day at a time, relishing the peace that yoga has brought him. “[I’m] grateful that I found that peace. And I hope that others will know that there is peace available to them. But mostly, I feel gratitude.”
Andrew is a RYT200 yoga instructor with the Dharma Footprint Project and Pineapple Yoga Studio in Sarasota, Florida.