Marie Landwehr has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, and she wants to pass it along by helping others break the shackles of addiction through the power of yoga.
Landwehr teaches yoga at The Studio in Seaside, and is expanding her offerings to include monthly two-hour “recovery” sessions. At these ongoing workshops, Landwehr will pair the healing art of yoga with a seminar and open discussion about addiction.
“That is one of my pursuits now,” she said. “I’m not working in a treatment center. I still hope this is an opportunity to engage in the recovery community and promote change.”
The yoga instructor has experienced firsthand the difficulties of dealing with addiction, from growing up with a family in the shadow of alcoholism to being ensnared by substance abuse in her younger years.
She says her change came along when she joined the Air Force at the age of 19, and she is thankful that it provided a push in the right direction.
“I got sober — I loved that,” she said. “I accepted the direction. That was the start of something new … I refuse to forget my past, but I don’t want to live there.”
After the military, she applied her recovery experience to help others and ultimately acquired a master’s degree in addiction studies. She put that education to good use at Hazeldon Addiction recovery and treatment center in Minnesota prior to moving to the area a year and a half ago.
Landwehr says her yoga workshops are not substitutions for treatment, but are “agents for change,” for not only recovering addicts, but also for the family and friends of those struggling.
“Recovery encompasses not just the addict — it’s the family, it’s the friend, it’s the people who are impacted,” she said, emphasizing the importance of learning “recovery skills.”
In her own life, the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga have paired perfectly with recovery techniques to make her more resilient.
She turned to yoga after a drunk driver hit her while she was crossing a street to do her Christmas shopping 22 years ago, rendering her unable to engage in other forms of exercises.
“I needed something to help facilitate my healing,” she said. And though she admits she was angry at the time, she now calls it a blessing.
“It introduced me to something new,” she said. “That was the gift in that.”
And she said her appreciation for the practice grows more each time she engages in it.
“The more I practice, the more familiar I am with me and less distracted by what is not me,” she said. She added that this resilience to distractions and expectations outside of oneself is an integral part of recovery.
And she wants to bring that kind of healing power to the community.
Landwehr said her recovery seminars will be a safe place to discuss issues of addiction and to “step out of the shadows of fear and shame.”
“The promise of recovery necessitates rigorous honesty,” she said. “Yoga is all about mindfulness, aka rigorous honesty.”
Attendees will be welcomed into a positive, nurturing atmosphere, and because of Landwehr’s experiences, “I am assured to be compassionate and understanding and grateful. Oh boy, grateful.”
The two-hour workshops will be held the second Saturday of the month at The Studio in Seaside. The first seminar will be Dec. 8 on the topic of “Changing the course of addiction: Yoga to help heal addictive thinking.”
Classes are $40 and reservations are required. These can be made by emailing Landwehr at poweryoga30A@gmail.com.
“My goal is to introduce people who are struggling to an opportunity of change,” she said. “I just have a passion to share.”
If you’re curious about the mental, spiritual and physical benefits of yoga, The Studio will offer a free yoga class for people who are interested in learning about Yoga/basic beginners’ asana (poses) at an open house, Jan. 5, at 10:30 at The Studio.