Carolyn Cowan is a kundalini yoga teacher and psychosexual therapist with a specialisation in trauma, anxiety and addiction. From 1st – 7th July 2020 she is running a week-long online intensive training on ‘mastering the addictive personality’. We asked Carolyn to share more on addiction and yoga – and to explain what her in-depth training in November will cover.
This year, I celebrate 29 years clean and sober, which is a long time to be living in your head without any moderation of emotion and feeling. Over all these years of sobriety, I’ve worked with clients who are addicted. As a yoga teacher, I’ve looked at how one can move through this space and I’ve arrived at a point now where I do not see addiction as a disease.
This training looks at addiction from the perspective of addiction being, in essence, a safety mechanism. Another way of looking at it is addiction as an anxiety mechanism, or it could be an armour to protect yourself from your feelings and your history.
Who is this training for?
Firstly, this training is for you. If you have an addictive nature, this training is for you. If you also happen to be a level one yoga teacher, at the end of the training you can take an exam and this will certify you to run workshops on anxiety on addiction recovery. I can also put you in touch with a charity that will enable you to work in prisons and in rehab.
In the training, the focus is on mastering the self; so understanding the roots of your behaviour. There is an expanding and new way of looking at addiction, which is that the roots of addiction lie in trauma, abuse, childhood stories, boarding school issues and gestation trauma – stuff that might have happened when your mother was pregnant with you in her body.
Exploring the roots of addiction
We are not looking at it from a disease perspective. We’re looking, in the first few days, at the roots of addiction. What happens in the brain? What happens in the body? Why do we feel like we feel? Why are our sensations so unbearable that we indulge in behaviours that essentially harm us or that we can’t stop?
All the way through we are doing yoga, meditation and pranayama. I’m a kundalini yoga teacher, so the focus is using kundalini techniques, but the training is applicable to all yoga styles. In the last part of the training, we specifically focus on tools – tools for recovery. This includes all the different ways you can support yourself, based on the knowledge you’ve acquired in the first few days, and how you can really, seriously, profoundly, affect your sense of yourself, your emotions and your emotional response. We look at how you can learn to regulate your emotions and deal with how we fall back into childhood sensations and feelings when we’re triggered.
A focus on intimacy
The training on mastering the addictive personality focuses really on intimacy. With all the people on the course, you build a fantastic connection; you build a great cohort. One of the things I like is that we start the training with the awareness that we are all running away from our feelings. We’ve all got patterns to protect ourselves and, actually, if we are all comfortable with allowing ourselves to be who we are, we can connect in an extraordinary way.
So, intimacy is a big part of the work. This includes connecting with others, learning how and when you can’t connect well, and what’s in the way of that. How do you change that? And, all the way through, we’re looking at mastering the addictive nature, anxiety, addictive behaviours; looking at self-harm, eating disorders and all manner of behaviours that we bring in to soothe ourselves.
If this interests you, I really hope that you’ll join us.
Click here to learn more about ‘mastering the addictive personality: a teacher training’ taking place from 1st – 7th July 2020 at triyoga online. The training is Yoga Alliance accredited and suitable for those wanting to go on a personal journey and/or those who wish to teach.