290 Days Sober: The Patience of a Teacher

Butler in headstand with teacher Kathy helping

For a week I thought I'd write about vanity, addiction and discipline. For my post (and a little bit to irritate Jenn Ciccarelli) I set out to take the yoga picture that would capture the story. After looking at the photo, my heart had something else to say.

I met Kathy over about 4 years ago, a few months after I entered recovery for substance abuse and a few weeks into starting yoga. I started an 8 week basics of yoga class at small shala in Buckhead. I knew next to nothing about yoga. My only exposure to yoga was from a girlfriend in graduate school. The teachers used words I didn't understand: Ashtanga, Mysore, bandhas. Little did I know this would turn my life upside down.

There were two teachers Jennifer and Kathy. My schedule was such that I went to Jennifer's class. She was amazing, funny and very patient with me. Then one day, there was Kathy. Maybe she was subbing or maybe I showed up on a different day. I don't remember. I just remember her class being harder. I think her usual cohort was further along in the sequence. The slightest adjustment from her caused sweat to pool on my mat. There was no pausing; just moving from one asana to the next. She was trying to get me to take controlled long breaths. I was just trying to breath. I made a note. Avoid Kathy :)

That was so long ago. She unknowingly was about to embark on a life changing journey with me over the next four years. A journey where I battled addiction, struggled with identity and behaved selfishly.

She has consistently been there; always in the room to lead practice.

I have given her plenty of opportunities to give up on me:
Showing up for practice hungover, if I even showed up.
Quitting for weeks at a time.
Barraging her with texts of drunken gibberish and sadness.
Refusing to move to the front of the room :)
I whine. I fuss. I don't always want to do the work, yet she meets me with patience and kindness.
She taught me to keep showing up.
She reminds me to breath.
She holds me accountable.
She is a great teacher.

Kathy Cushing Koher you are one of the most amazing humans I know. Thank you for believing in me.