Following on from my post about yoga a couple of days ago, I’ve been musing about that attractive concept of “Karma”. At least I find it attractive – believing myself to be fundamentally nice, kind,honest and helpful I beleive(d) that my karma would be good, and some people who have hurt me, or wronged me would, at some point get their just “comeuppance” Very satisfying, natural justice delivered by some all seeing deity or force of nature …. And then I discover that the philosophy of yoga incorporates this universal spiritual concept of reaping what you sow: the law of Karma.

What’s not to like !

Since I’ve been looking into this a bit more, well it’s not quite as simple as my atavistic vision of (essentially) hell and purgatory for the bad, and heaven for the good …

Yes, simply put, Karma is the future consequence of one’s current behaviour, but not JUST your Behaviour- also your  intentions, thoughts,  and actions. Hmm, so all those angry thoughts also get weighed up on the giant karmic scales ? There is also the slightly sticky thought that a big chunk of your karma comes from how you behaved in previous lives (for faiths that beleive in reincarnation) which you will neither remember not be able to add to your internal karmic scales … Meaning our lives are controlled completely by our own self-created karma; the actions we do in this lifetime, (as well as what we have done in all our previous lifetimes, which are many in number). However, much of our karmic influences lie hidden in the subconscious part of our minds, which is where all our karmic actions are recorded. So it’s past lives and subconscious thoughts that are the main influences  …. Hmm , the theory goes that these actions, or karma, determine what happens in our lives today, especially as these actions have been repeated over many lifetimes.

So if all of our actions, both current and past, determine what happens in our lives today, this also means that if we act now in ways to improve our life, those actions will have an influence as we move forward. Our so called destiny is of our own making, and we can influence how life turns out for us – quitting drinking anyone ? Is life better now as a result of our sobriety ? I say yes.  Is this karma ? No idea

So, while the Karma you currently create (with your thoughts, actions intentions and behaviour) influences your future life experiences, (the theory goes) your Karma is not your fate. 

It’s central to the idea of karma that one has the ability to consciously choose how you respond and react to Karmic generated events, thus reducing the current impact of your Karma and reducing or eliminating future Karma. Got that?

This is what yoga is supposed to do –  free  you from the accumulation of more Karma, good and bad. Good Karma is good, bad Karma is bad, but attaining any kind of Karma is undesirable. The goal, through the practice of yoga, is to stop the cycle of Karma by ceasing further Karmic accumulation. The yogis tell us the only way to not produce Karma is to act selflessly, without ego, without the desire for any reward. Yoga , and the meditation involved helps us to achieve this goal..

The more conscious we are about how we live our lives and the choices we make, the more we will be able to guide our lives in a particular way. But it is only when we begin to choose the spiritual life that we finally find the fulfillment and happiness we have sought in all of our previous lifetimes.

Like yoga, this is both a psychological and physical practice, with the mental attitude much more powerful than the physical deed.

Liberation from Karma is known as Nirvana, and is a highly esteemed spiritual state. But striving to attain a state of Nirvana is not a necessary goal; any reduction in Karma will improve one’s life, well-being and happiness. So, doing yoga will reduce your karma, good and bad … And mean you are closer to Nirvana …?.

I want to believe this – like I said I find the idea attractive, and of course it means that we can and should let go of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, which is better for us however you look at it… However I’m really not sure I’m getting the connection between an unsupported half moon and a better life.

I probably need to study some more ! But I do like this below ? You see what I have learned is that the first image is, in itself bad karma – because it is associated with mean thoughts …. Can’t help thinking the world might be a better place if met people adopted this kind of philosophy …

yoga, Yoga, YOGA


Yoga. Almost every recovery blog, sober website, or poster on dry threads seems to have got into yoga. I am no exception. I’m a 51 year old, stiff woman with a BMI of just over 25 and I’m contorting myself 4 times a week into the most extraordinary poses, and I LOVE it. Really, I LOVE it, I can’t get enough yoga; I snuck out of work for a 10.30 yoga class this morning (admin day) and claimed the time as my lunch break ( I never, ever get a lunch break – that’s a different story) … I’m planning and plotting to try and get to 5 classes a week, as I feel too clumsy and uncoordinated to practice very much at home at the moment.

Yes, I’m a new convert. I had literally never considered yoga before I got sober this time, I don’t even think I’d given it much thought to be honest, and if in passing I’d wondered about ‘yoga’, I think I imagined a bunch of earnest, vegan, tree hugging people squatting on the ground and meditating. I certainly couldn’t have imagined that I would fit in…, or that the practice of yoga would become a crucially important cornerstone to my life.

So, just in case ANYONE reading this doesn’t already know, and most of you on that sober journey know MUCH more than I do… what is yoga? whats the point ? and how come it’s suddenly become so important to me (and it seems countless other recovering addicts)

Literally yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old. Yoga’s spiritual side has its roots in the Hindu faith, with some input from other ancient religious traditions. The main philosophy of yoga is simple: mind, body and spirit are all one and cannot be clearly separated and so basically yoga is a collection of techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind, body and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe

Apart from the spiritual goals, the physical postures of yoga are used nowadays to alleviate health problems, reduce stress and make the spine supple, and the joints and muscles strong and flexible.

Central to the postures is breathing. For most poses the breath is slow and steady, breathed in and out of the nose and down into the belly. This focus on breathing helps induce a kind of meditative state.

The practice of yoga poses and meditation prove to be a powerful combination. With consistent  practice the wobbly body becomes stronger and steadier and the stressed, over anxious mind becomes calmer, I think this is the main reason why so many people have fallen into the practice of yoga



So what do I, personally get out of it ? When I quit drinking I started to attend several different type of classes at the gym, but yoga has been the one that stuck. Why ?

I think its

  1. progress – I can literally feel progress. I’m already much better balanced, more flexible and bendy than I was. I like this, It makes me feel like I actively inhabit my body
  2. Its FEELS good – stretching and expanding muscle groups just feels good. Its feels especially good when someone else adds just a little pressure and takes it one stage further!
  3. Its inspiring. My favourite yoga teacher is a woman at least 10 years older than me, who is SO strong and flexible, I find her very inspirational
  4. it is relaxing. It takes practice, but that breathing and mindfulness type exercise does calm the mind and provide some kind of sustenance.

And the lessons I have taken from Yoga so far ?

  •  Flexibility and strength are equally important

I walked into my first yoga class convinced I would be the most uncordinated, useless , weak student. And at first I was, but alongside me was a very strong, muscular youngish man, who equally couldn’t hold the poses… he’s learning  alongside me…

A healthy body needs a balance of flexibility and strength.

Flexibility is good in all aspects of our lives. Learning to go with the flow and adapt to the circumstances is key to stress reduction. We also need to find strength: strength to stand up for our values and strength to keep to our commitments

  • You need to know your limits

Through yoga we learn to listen to our bodies. We try hard, but we don’t push it if it feels painful. I am no where near being able to lift myself into a crow pose… so I dont, I wantch and try to learn, and develop some patience and trust that one day I WILL be able to do this…

(That’s not me !)

This same respect for our limits, patience and trust is important in day to day life. If my workload is overwhelming and I’m feeling stressed, I SHOULD respect my own limits by saying no to more tasks!. When I feel anxious or stressed about drinking, its ok to turn down social invitations..

3. I / You CAN do it ..

When I think I simply CANNOT physically reach the floor, or catch my foot? when I am afraid that standing on one leg means I will fall ? Actually, with help, I CAN do it

Fear, in all aspects of our lives, holds us back. It keeps us from applying for that job we want, stepping in to the unknown, or falling in love. Its a good feeling to get past the fear…”Feel the fear – and do it anyway.” isn’t that the title of a book ?  It is only by acknowledging, accepting, and moving past fear that we can fulfill our potential.And now I CAN do a Warrior balance !

(sadly that’s not me! )