The Recovery Warrior: Recovery is defined as the action or process of regaining possession or control of something lost or stolen. An addiction can be defined as any behavior or action repeated compulsively in spite of having negative consequences. Addictions steal our ability to function in the world with grace, adaptability, and clarity. In addiction, we lose connection with family, friends, society, and our True Self. Addictions are symptomatic manifestations of unresolved imbalances of the mind, body and spirit.

The Recovery Warrior practices — including yoga, meditation, and personal coaching — offer a safe, supportive space in which to regain possession of the True Self that addiction has stolen.

Carson Smith is the founder of The Recovery Warrior — Kicking Addiction in the Asana and creator of Recovery Warrior Yoga.

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My personal philosophy of health care is based on my own experiences which began in childhood of over reliance on western-based, pharmacologically-driven, narrow-focused medicine and has evolved into a primary reliance on a holistic approach to living which incorporates mind-body-spirit practices including yoga and meditation, as well as Ayurvedic diet and personal hygiene practices. I believe that holistic health practices are the best first-line of defense in avoiding health problems to begin with and the best first choice for addressing illness and maintaining optimum health in mind-body-spirit.

What brought me to holistic health practices was a desperate need to heal myself from decades of wounds both physical and emotional.

Growing up, I was always trying to fulfill the expectations of family and society but I never felt like I fit in. I was told I was too sensitive. Too idealistic. Too much a dreamer. I was told I needed to become more thick-skinned and aggressive if I was ever going to be “successful”. But the attempts at fitting what the world wanted me to be led to alternate periods of “success” followed by bouts of depression and a sense of worthlessness. I couldn’t figure out how to be my true self and I couldn’t manage to fit the mold I was groomed for by upperclass parents, prep school and the expectation of an Ivy League alma mater and professional career. (I attended a state university much to the chagrin of my family’s Princeton legacy and flip flopped between white collar and blue collar jobs.) This led to decades of being a chameleon and becoming more and more disconnected from my true, authentic self. The result was I became an emotionally disconnected, spiritually adrift man with two failed marriages, a third on the rocks, chronic pain from a work-related injury and an addiction to alcohol and prescription pain medication.

On November 6, 2014, I entered a hospital ER with severe alcohol poisoning for the umpteenth time. My blood pressure was 211/101 and the doctors told me after the fact that I was about 24 hours away from death. Over several years, I had become so physically and psychologically addicted to alcohol and narcotic pain medication that I couldn’t go an hour without drinking alcohol or more than a few hours without the Oxycodone I had been prescribed for years for chronic pain from a back injury. I had tried to quit both, with and without help. No doctors, therapists, counselors, treatment programs or 12 step programs could keep me clean and sober for more than a couple months. The misery of withdrawal couldn’t keep me clean and sober. A lovely wife, children and beautiful home couldn’t keep me clean and sober. Marital separation, personal humiliation, financial devastation and homelessness couldn’t snap me out of my addictive behaviors. On November 7, 2014 – my first day of continuous sobriety – I began anew with currently accepted medical and psychological treatments and step program work. They all have their value but my past proved they were not enough to keep me clean and sober. And I didn’t want to just stay sober living the life I was living. I needed more. We all need more than to just survive our addictions. We all deserve to THRIVE in an abundant, joyful, productive life! 
Kick addiction in the asana with Recovery Warrior practices including yoga, meditation, holistic health & diet, and personal coaching.

“Carson has overcome many personal issues and tragedies and transmuted those experiences to become one of the most authentic, compassionate and empathetic healers I know. He has a gift for attuning to others and lifting others up with kindness, patience, honesty, and humor.”

Hi! I’m Carson Smith and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic/addict and yoga teacher! So what does yoga have to do with recovery? A lot!

Growing up, I was always trying to fulfill the expectations of family and society but I never felt like I fit in. I was told I was too sensitive. Too idealistic. Too much a dreamer. I was told I needed to become more thick-skinned and aggressive if I was ever going to be “successful”. But the attempts at fitting what the world wanted me to be led to alternate periods of “success” followed by bouts of depression and a sense of worthlessness. I couldn’t figure out how to be my true self and I couldn’t manage to fit the mold I was groomed for by upperclass parents, prep school and the expectation of an Ivy League alma mater and professional career. (I attended a state university much to the chagrin of my family’s Princeton legacy and flip flopped between white collar and blue collar jobs.) This led to decades of being a chameleon and becoming more and more disconnected from my true, authentic self. The result was I became an emotionally disconnected, spiritually adrift man with two failed marriages, a third on the rocks, chronic pain from a work-related injury and an addiction to alcohol and prescription pain medication.

It’s sometimes said that things get worse before they get better and that is true in my case. I turned to yoga in a desperate attempt try anything that would relieve the chronic pain from my back injury and, it while seemed to help my physical ailments, it was the spiritual and meditative aspects of my practice that began peeling back the layers of armor, the walls of defensiveness, and the many masks I had worn for decades. I became more deeply drawn into yoga because it soothed, filled, and healed the spiritual void and emotional trauma in my life. Though this was a scary and painful process, it was yoga that supported me in dealing with the wounds of my past and discovering my true, authentic self. Had this not been so, I never would have been able to brave the journey. My four year old home yoga practice and third, (now ex-wife), led me to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in April of 2012 for an “R&R” weekend. I felt very guarded when we arrived on a Friday but didn’t want to leave by the time we checked out on Sunday! As it happened, one of the most profound classes I sampled during that weekend was Five Element Yoga/Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra offered by Jennifer Reis.

Still battling my demons, the R&R weekend I had at Kripalu convinced me I had found something profoundly grounding and centering that was missing in my life and created a compelling desire to apply to their Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program for the summer of 2012. I wasn’t really anticipating becoming a yoga teacher, I just wanted to deepen my own practice through the training – to nurture the seed planted by the amazing faculty I experienced at R&R. At 50 years old and a bit out of shape both physically and spiritually I didn’t expect to get accepted. I was. I took a deep breath, said “Okay life” and leaped into my future. Kripalu – the yoga of compassionate, non-judgmental self-examination was exactly what I needed. Kripalu’s month-long teacher training was the most rigorous, fun, challenging, scary, nurturing and empowering experience of my life. And spending an entire month living and training at Kripalu afforded me the opportunity to experience the disciplines and techniques offered by many deeply knowledgeable and experienced teachers. By the time I graduated, I knew I was destined to share yoga with others and felt driven to attend more trainings.

While at yoga teacher training I had the opportunity to reconnect with the Kripalu faculty member whom I had enjoyed so much on my very first visit to the campus in the Berkshires – Jennifer Reis. Jennifer’s Five Element Yoga/Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra class gave me the most profound sense of calm and relaxation I had ever experienced and I was eager to learn more about these techniques. So just three months after completing YTT I was back at Kripalu in November, 2012, to take her Five Element Yoga teacher training. And in March, 2014, I returned for Jennifer’s Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra teacher training.

Besides just the “feel good” experience that Five Element Yoga and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra provides, I really like the fact that they are both rooted in ancient yogic science confirmed by modern western medicine. And as a person who has wrestled with psycho-emotional trauma compounded by substance abuse, I have experienced first hand how a yoga practice that balances the five elements we are all comprised of – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether/Space and a guided meditation practice that reaches all five layers, or Koshas, of our body, mind, and spirit can be tremendously healing. Of course, you don’t have to be in recovery from substance abuse to benefit from the experience of Five Element Yoga and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra. I think most of us are challenged by imbalances now and then simply due to the pace of life nowadays. And these imbalances create unhealthy stress or “dis-ease” which keep us from living life to our fullest, most joyful potential. Practicing Five Element Yoga and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, by yourself or with a guide, can bring you back to your true, authentic Self and provide a means of finding peace and joy even during the most challenging times of your life. Now I not only practice these modalities for my own well-being, but I incorporate them into the recovery-based yoga program I founded in 2015 called Recovery Warrior Yoga — Kicking Addiction in the Asana https://m.facebook.com/yogaforaddictionrecovery

The difference yoga has made in my life – especially Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra and Five Element Yoga – has been life-changing. Prior to practicing yoga, I looked outwards to people and other socio-economic aspects of life to validate my sense of worth and safety. And since changed is the only real constant in life, I found myself forever being buffeted by the winds of change and drowning in the stormy seas of uncertainty and fear. Now, with almost a decade of a consistent yoga practice and coming up on three years of continuous sobriety, I have found my true, authentic Self and an inner sense of the Divine which allows me to harness the winds of change in order to sail forward with courage and the ability to surf the waves of life with a sense of wonder and adventure. Cowabunga Baby!