Monday, March 24, 2014

Recovery and Yoga: Create a Physical Foundation for the Pose and Be Up to Something Bigger than Yourself

Recovery and Yoga:
Create a Physical Foundation for the Pose and
Be Up to Something Bigger than Yourself

I am in the work of recovery.

That is a loaded sentence. Just look at it- “I am in the work of recovery.”

Yes. I research it. I help others find it. Perhaps most importantly, I am in it (see blog post:

I have found that to be recovered you must follow one of the central tenants of Baptiste Yoga:

Create a Physical Foundation for the Pose and
Be Up to Something Bigger than Yourself

Yoga is a big, giant metaphor for life. Who you are on the mat-- is who you are off the mat. Perhaps there is a small group of individuals that can keep the two distinct. Still, for most of us-- the metaphor works and works well.

Within the Baptiste Yoga tradition, teaching is centered on the principles of True North Alignment. In its essence, it is the neurological and psychological integration of the self, our center line. Read more to see the parallels with the latest neuropsychological research and theory (see Dan Siegel for example).

As we become neurologically integrated and work from the center, from our True North, we feel better and do better. According to Dr. Siegel, we manifest FACES. We become more: F = Flexible, A = Adaptive, C= Coherent, E = Energized, and S = Stable.

In Baron Baptiste’s words (see, the first element of True North Alignment (our new code word for neurological integration) is:

Create a Physical Foundation for the Pose and
Be Up to Something Bigger than Yourself

Follow this two step process below to use this tenant to help you maintain your recovery. Better yet, use this to prevent struggle in the first place.

STEP ONE: Create a Physical Foundation for The Pose

In my recent book, Healthy Eating in Schools (Cook-Cottone, Tribole, & Tylka, 2013), I constructed a model for understanding the “create a physical foundation of the pose” for our off-the-mat-world. To be in recovery, mental health, and solid emotional regulation, you need to be in practice of the pillars of emotional regulation:

1.     Nutrition
2.     Hydration
3.     Exercise
4.     Self-Soothing
5.     Rest
6.     If needed and then prescribed--  medications

See Chart Below:

That translates in lived-experience like this:

  1. Eat nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day.
  2. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and vary as needed for weather and exercise.
  3. Exercise for 60 minutes a day- yes- 60 minutes.
  4. Do one thing a day that calms you (no substances, all action). Think of cuddling with your dog or cat, taking a bath, going in the hot tub, sharing a foot massage, etc…
  5. Get the sleep you need so that you wake up rested and restored (no substances for this either).
  6. If you need to or have been prescribed medication—take it, like it is prescribed. Please note, that if you do numbers 1 through 5, your need for 6 might be considerably less.

STEP TWO: Be Up to Something Bigger than Yourself

This life you have been given, it is a gift. You are here for a reason. Your heart beat and precious, beautiful body are here to contribute. As you create a physical foundation for the pose (i.e., your life), you will create space for being up to something bigger than YOU!

As you practice STEP ONE, you will be fed, hydrated, physically prepared, centered, and rested. You will notice that it is time for you to re-organize your thinking to what is possible beyond YOU.

We all have stories, true and sometimes horrible stories, of what has happened and what is happening to us. Life is a challenge that way. But these things that have happened to us do not define us.

That place between stimuli and response- between what has happened to us and what we choose-


Dig in deep there (between stimulus and response) and grab onto what you want for this one precious life of yours.

Yes- be up to something bigger than you.

Adherence to STEP ONE makes STEP TWO possible. Interestingly, STEP TWO makes STEP ONE manageable. You see, we take care of ourselves when we get it—when we get that we are of value, we are needed and important. We realize that just maybe- there is something that won't happen if we drop the ball. AH- then we realize that in order to do what we were meant to do in this world, what the world needs us to do in this world, we need STEP ONE. Yeah- YOU are that important, we need you, and for you to be you- you need to take care of you. So, it works together like that.

Zuri’s Story

Today- Zuri looked up at Miss Amanda during yoga class. Miss Amanda was asking the students as they stood in Warrior I, “What would you do, if you could do anything?”

Without pause, Zuri thought, “I want to become a yoga teacher.”

And so it will be. Our little Zuri has started her path of embodiment. She will eat, drink water, practice yoga, cuddle with Rashan, and get her rest (STEP ONE). She will study and work in school. And she will be up to something bigger than herself (STEP TWO). She wants to give these gifts she has received to other children who have it hard like she does. Yes- Zuri is up to something bigger than herself. It feels like fire in her belly. At this moment, she digs her feet into her mat, lights up her legs, draws her naval into her spine, and extends through each and every finger on her two hands- and Zuri- she feels amazing. You go Zuri.

The Process

Now it is your turn reader.  Today, begin STEP ONE- Create a Physical Foundation for The Pose (your life). It is funny. In Western culture, we say, “When I feel better, I will start taking care of myself.” Turns out, when you start taking care of yourself, YOU WILL FEEL BETTER- go figure.

After STEP ONE has been in place for 24 hours--  in a quiet moment--  ask yourself, “If I could do anything, what would I do?”

It is here, where you will find the stirrings of being up to something bigger than yourself. You will be on your way to finding your True North Alignment- your integration- your best version of YOUR SELF. You go. And as you do-- the struggles-- well, we shed them like old clothes that just don’t feel right anymore.



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