Emotional sobriety comes later, after physical withdrawal from alcohol.
Clear sight follows a clear head. Psychosocial temperance comes long after bodily sobriety is achieved, and advancing it and maintaining it require lifelong effort.
At nine months sober, I just resumed a daily Yoga practice, currently done at home. I perform Sun Salutations in the morning, or at the very least, I rest for a few moments in Triangle Pose and Warriors I and II, to loosen stagnant energy and stiff muscles. And the steely grip of a bad attitude. In the evening there are my Moon Salutations.
A huge part of the problem is that I never learned how to behave properly. The difference now is that, in my recovery, I am trying.
I may not ease into and hold my Yoga poses properly, either. My practice may be as sketchy as my manners. Yet I keep at it, because I feel so much better with Yoga as part of my life than I do without it.
Warrior II, or Virabhadrasana II, is perhaps one of today’s most iconic Yogic asanas. Its likeness is featured everywhere, from magazine covers to blogs, as both full-color photos and simple pencil sketches.
I have long loved this particular posture, steadying myself into it before it was cool, or at least before I knew it was cool. That is part of my problem, a manifestation of my emotional drunkenness.
If something—anything—is popular, trendy, fashionable, I automatically turn away from it. Even if it is something I may like, enjoy, or decide, after research, that it will be good for me, I reject it simply because others have found their own value in this thing, and so it is not mine alone.
Part of my journey into emotional sobriety will be to leave behind this blind disregard for anything that is not mine alone, because truly, nothing is. Nothing, that is, save for my Self.
Emotional sobriety means getting to know this Self that is mine and honoring it as we become acquainted.
And Warrior II, popular or not, can help me with this quest for Self-knowledge. The Warrior II posture is about centering. It is about balance. This posture draws upon honesty and grace.
I feel a sense of excitement, euphoria even, as I position my legs hip-width apart and raise my arms to my shoulders, reaching straight out as far as I can but never losing connection with the core, with the chakra energy axis that is my body. As I position my feet and bend my right knee slightly then turn my head to the right and gaze at the way things are, all around me, passion rises within me, from my toes to my crown chakra on the top of my head.
Energy is freed, or created, or both, and it flows through me. I rejoice in this process, every time.
And as I understand it, this is the point of all three variations of the Warrior pose. Practitioners strive to center themselves as they hold these majestic asanas. Through the breath and flowing yet deliberate movement, getting into position for Warrior II and then holding this posture is an exercise in returning to the very core of oneself.
Warrior II is about combating the ego and preparing a place to welcome a higher plane of consciousness—emotional sobriety.
For me, simply not drinking is not enough. Alcoholism is complex, and the physical addiction and intense craving are but the proverbial tip of the iceberg for me. They can be seen, but there is more, much more, beneath the surface that is not readily visible.
So to maintain physical sobriety, I must seek emotional sobriety—to live with it, to grow within its safe arms, to maintain it, as one would a most precious relationship.
I must seek out emotional sobriety, because to me, it is now foreign. I have not had it for many years—most of my life, in fact. And the Warrior poses—especially, for me, Warrior II—can help me do this.
Warrior II can help me in my daily seeking for my Self, for my center. This invaluable, seemingly simple posture seen everywhere is one of the most powerful, intense postures I have ever held.
And I still hold it, most days, even though millions of other people do, as well. Maintaining my love for Warrior II, even though it is one of today’s most famous Yoga poses, is not only an exercise for my body, but also for my entire being. Warrior II builds my emotional sobriety. Breath by precious breath.
And anything that can do that, I need.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: elephant journal archives, Wikimedia