su­per­woman

Let­ting the light in - the jour­ney from ad­dic­tion to in­spi­ra­tion.

The Hamilton Spectator - - CONTENTS - BY KATIE MCCLEL­LAND

MY NAME IS KATIE MCCLEL­LAND AND I AM THE OWNER/FOUNDER OF DE LA SOL YOGA STU­DIOS. MY TWO STU­DIO LO­CA­TIONS ARE JOY­FUL, VI­BRANT COM­MU­NI­TIES OF MORE THAN 90 STAFF AND THOU­SANDS OF STU­DENTS. I HOST A YOGA IN­STRUC­TIONAL TV SHOW CALLED ‘YOGA WITH KATIE’ AND HAVE TRAINED OVER 300 YOGA TEACH­ERS TO PUR­SUE THEIR OWN CA­REERS, SHAR­ING THE HEALING, TRANS­FOR­MA­TIVE EF­FECTS OF YOGA PRAC­TICE WITH THEIR OWN STU­DENTS. I LIVE IN HAMIL­TON WITH MY WON­DER­FUL HUS­BAND WHO IS A BRAZIL­IAN JIU-JITSU COM­PETI­TOR AND GYM OWNER AND MY MIS­CHIEVOUS TWO-YEAR-OLD SON EVANDER.

Fif­teen years ago, if you had shown me a flash of what my life would look like now I would not have be­lieved it. At that time, I was 7 years into a crys­tal meth ad­dic­tion, us­ing daily if not hourly. I was es­tranged from my fam­ily and friends and sleep­ing on the floor of an aban­doned apart­ment in Van­cou­ver. At that time in my life, I hoped I would over­dose and die. I was stuck in such a vi­cious cy­cle of ad­dic­tion and I was too stub­born and pride­ful to ad­mit it to any­one or to ask for help. How did I get to this place?

I would love to be able to say ‘I was a drug ad­dict and then I found yoga and it turned my life around’. My story isn’t so neat and tidy. I ac­tu­ally started my jour­ney into yoga and drugs at the same time. This may sound paradoxical but, I was try­ing to find any­thing I could to self med­i­cate away my feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy, in­se­cu­rity and anx­ious­ness. Both yoga and crys­tal meth re­lieved me from my strug­gles. The dif­fer­ence, of course, is that drugs lead to de­struc­tion in ev­ery way, and yoga leads to whole­ness. But in the mo­ment, they both brought me some mea­sure of ful­fill­ment. As my ad­dic­tion to meth grew stronger, so did my pas­sion for yoga, and the hypocrisy was not lost on me. As a yoga teacher I was filled with self loathing for the dual life I was liv­ing.

Ad­dic­tion is wors­ened by shame, re­gret and self loathing. The more I lied, stole and abused my body and my re­la­tion­ships the less I be­lieved I was wor­thy of a beau­ti­ful life, and the more this per­pet­u­ated my drug use. It’s a vi­cious cy­cle that can only be bro­ken by cling­ing to that glim­mer of light, how­ever small, that re­sides in each of our hearts and souls, and nour­ish­ing this light with for­give­ness and self ac­cep­tance un­til it be­gins to glow brighter.

A dear friend said some­thing to me at the time that started me on a path to self love and re­cov­ery. I had con­fessed my ad­dic­tion to her and was lament­ing about how I was fraud­u­lent yoga teacher and she said, ‘Katie, the yoga teacher part of you - the ‘you’ that shares such beau­ti­ful wis­dom in your classes is the REAL you. The drug ad­dict is the fraud. Not the other way around.’ I had be­lieved my dark­ness was the real me and she helped me see the re­verse was true. This was the start of my light begin­ning to flicker with hope and prom­ise. I ad­mit­ted ev­ery­thing to my fam­ily and spent a month at Home­wood in Guelph. I like to joke that every­one should go to re­hab at least once in their lives! It was in­credi­ble to take a whole month to learn about my­self and heal in a peace­ful, sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment. I learned that the op­po­site of ad­dic­tion is not so­bri­ety but con­nec­tion. When we iso­late our­selves, we will fall back into our ad­dic­tive ways. When we pri­or­i­tize healthy, up­lift­ing re­la­tion­ships and con­nect with others, even when feel­ing in­se­cure or anx­ious, we get out of our heads and ex­pe­ri­ence joy and ful­fill­ment with­out our drug of choice.

Ev­ery day, my stu­dios, my yoga prac­tice and my loving fam­ily hold a mir­ror up to me and show where I need to grow and evolve. If there are words of wis­dom I can share that I have learned along the way it would be th­ese: Ac­cord­ing to a Bud­dhist be­lief, the chance of be­ing born hu­man (as an in­car­na­tion) is as mi­nus­cule as a golden ring be­ing tossed into the ocean and a seal pok­ing its head up through it. A hu­man life is such a gift, it’s like win­ning the lot­tery! Even the painful parts are a trea­sure be­cause we have the in­tel­li­gence and ca­pac­ity to use dif­fi­cult times as a chance to learn.

A dear friend said some­thing to me at the time that started me on a path to self love and re­cov­ery: ‘Katie, the yoga teacher part of you - the ‘you’ that shares such beau­ti­ful wis­dom in your classes is the REAL you. The drug ad­dict is the fraud. Not the other way around.’

Pho­tog­ra­phy by: Ken­dell MacLeod

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