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A Cup of (Decaf) Coffee with Jules Allan, Sober Curious Yoga Teacher


In this episode, I sit down with Jules Allen, one of our Sober Curious Yoga teachers and community members! Jules' approach to yoga is focussed on creating a safe and welcoming space; gentle, accessible, joyful, intuitive, creative, mindful, nourishing and restorative. Everything Jules offers is an invitation, we explore in the class what works for our bodies and minds in the moment.


In this episode, learn about Jules - and the role that Sober Curious Yoga and yoga in general has played in managing her physical health and mental health.



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Catch Jules for classes on the MLPC. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/live-schedule.


Full episode


Transcript


Intro

Welcome to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019.And now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.


Alex

Alright. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of "Sober Yoga Girl". I am really, really excited today because I have a guest on the show who has been a huge part of the Mindful Life Practice community since almost the beginning, maybe a few months after we started. I have Jules Allan here with me, and she likes to go by creative adventurer and Jules join on the Mindful Life Practice and she attends classes as every day. So if you have been to any of Mindful Life Practice classes. I'm sure you have met her and she actually teaches for us, so she runs some of our sober classes. So welcome so much. That's a weird thing to say. Welcome Jules.


Jules

Thank you so much.


Alex

So happy to have you here.


Jules

Oh, the muchness. Thank you.


Alex

So let's start out. I was wondering if you could give me a little bit of context into telling me about yourself. So who you are and where you're from.


Jules

Okay. So can I just say this is my first ever podcast? So I'm a little bit excited and a little bit pull my pants. And so who knows what words are going to come out of my mouth today. So I'm hoping they'll make some kind of sense. So my name's Jules and I'm from Bristol, which is like in the southwest of the UK. And I am 48. I live with my partner and his two children, and I am so grateful. I'm beyond grateful for the Mindful Life practice. I'm not saying that in like, a sort of cheesy way. I'm genuinely, like we've all been through lockdown and COVID and numerous lockdowns. And for me, the community and the classes have just been such an anchor. They really have. It's like having, I don't know, all these different people around the world being able to be in my living room and sometimes in my conservatory and sometimes even in bed, which is you know, sharing it with the world. But yeah, I've been practicing yoga for a really long time and I was really missing it. I was really missing that connection and being with people and sharing yoga practice. So for me, finding the community sort of I think it was, yeah. A couple of months into lock down, is just, it was, yeah, it was like a light house. So yeah, I genuinely mean, I think you know, it's having that structure has kept me steady.


Alex

And we're so happy you're part of it. Honestly, it wouldn't be the same without you and some of these people I think about, I'm like, what would my life be like without Jules? Like I don't know when you're not. I notice when you're not there. Sometimes I stay out loud. You probably heard me in the on demand classes. Being like, this is weird that Jules is not here. Jules usually.



Yeah. I do like to attend all the different classes. Sometimes in the camera off, because sometimes I'm just, like lying on the mat, having a little kick or have a little cry and sometimes I'm wobbling. Actually, most of the time I'm wobbling. But yeah, I think what I love is just all the different types, like just trying it like I've never done hit yoga and bar and things like that. My kind of yoga tends to be sort of like sleepy sleep yoga.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

So to try all of them and to feel like safe as well, to come to classes and just know that if I'm needing to show the camera off and have a little cry or, I don't know, have a cup of tea whilst I'm doing it, I can do that. Whereas, you know, in regular yoga classes, I don't think I could get away with a cup up and a sleep.


Alex

Yeah, exactly. So I was wondering if you could give me a bit of context into how you started drinking.


Jules

Okay. I would say that my childhood, unfortunately, was very dysfunctional and I had a lots of trauma in my childhood. And I learned early on different numbing techniques, different ways to just not be present. And I would say that two of the main sort of things that helped me, you know, they were tools at the time was creativity, but also alcohol. And I think I started drinking very early. It was definitely in my very early teens and I drank because I really loved it. I loved being numb. I loved being out of it. I was very introverted inside that alcohol gave me extroversion. It gave me what I thought was confidence. It was my friend. And I just found that alcohol was one of those things when I was younger, when I wasn't able to deal with a lot of emotions that were happening because of family dynamics. It enables me to escape. But coupled with that was also creativity. So I think that's why creativity and alcohol and also now yoga has been very synchronic. I can't say the word synchronicity. And so that was sort of I guess my duck shadow was using alcohol. And my light aside, use creativity and playfulness. Yeah. I used it early on. And it was something that I used throughout my teenagers, my 20s, my 30s. And it wasn't until I hit 40 that I went, oh, I need to address this. I think it was. Yeah. I think it was one I hit for safe.


Alex

And I think so many people can relate to that. I know I can definitely in terms of you know, using it as a coping mechanism. And I was also a very creative individual. Right. And so I think I had these two sides of me and I think a lot of people could probably relate to that, too, because it does numb you out. Which is-- I had a podcast cast she said you know, it was a coping strategy and it worked for a while.


Jules

Yeah.


Alex

You know, and I could totally relate to that.


Jules

Yeah. I completely relate. It was in my toolkit. My toolkit was lots of creative stuff. And I didn't necessarily know it was about well being, but the creativity kept me well, that the alcohol is definitely a coping strategy. And I would be like quite blatant about that and say, you know, there the weapon cope us by having a genetonic and dust wine bottle and what have you-- and it was like a badge of owner. And you know, especially I think my generation, we're in our 40s and we did lots of partying and raving. And there was the lad a culture and a lot of young girls and women. It was that-- it was you know, it was the thing to do was to get pissed and yeah, to definitely keep up with the boys. I've definitely would be out and drinking as much as my boyfriend. And I was like, half the size of them I'm a five foot. So I feel like swallowing myself with beer and gin and wine and I'm thinking that was a good thing.


Alex

Yeah. Well, in a culture that's so normalized alcohol. And someone was commenting to me the other day, I can't remember who it was was saying. You know, I've noticed so many of your podcast guests are coming out of the UK. And the UK is one of our biggest like we have Eastern Standard Time, we have you know, some people in the Middle East, and then we have the UK. And I think that's really interesting and probably really reflective of the drinking culture there.


Jules

Yeah. I would say it was mark a passage. It was you know--


Alex

Right.


Jules

When your a teenager, it was just completely normal. You would have been weird if you didn't drink and it was normal to get stay drunk, that you'd back out. That was just normal amongst teenagers. It wasn't like, oh, I'm gonna have a glass of wine--


Alex

Right.


Jules

It was you know, really potent, disgusting drinks, which you know, I remembered mixing beer inside of black currants and making concoctions. And that was like our taster before we went out clubbing. And yeah, that was just completely normalized. You know, in my 20s and my 30s. And then unfortunately, I think there's a really big culture around women when they get into the 30s and 40s, when women have babies and children and you'll bit stressed and have your glass of wine. And you know, there's a whole culture around that around. It's completely acceptable to get drunk on a Friday night if you have a nice wine glass and a nice posh bottle of wine. So you know, it changed from really bad drinks as a teenager to posh bottles of wine but that's acceptable. That's acceptable face of, you know, big drinking. And I think there's a lot of women that are out there that maybe had children or are, you know, in high powered jobs or just finding jobs really stressful. And you get to your 40s and it's accepted that we go around and have drinks--


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And that was seen as a coping mechanism. And it's you know, just it's really not.


Alex

Right. And there's so much pressure on women in general. You know, it's almost like there's like, a superwoman thing of like. Be the parents, have the career, do it all. And with nowhere to turn to, that can be the thing to turn to.


Jules

Completely. You know, I see it in myself and I see it in so many friends who unfortunately lose their identity and lose what they care about. What they're passionate about and lose a sense of who they are because they're so busy. You know, again, it's another badge of honor is the busy. I used to carry it. People would say, how are you? And I go, I'm busy, really busy. Is though again, that's a good thing to be busy and exhausting. And yeah, I saw it in myself and that whole wanting to be a super, I even remember saying to people, I want to be a superhero. And, you know, I got to 40 and just went, I don't want to be a superhero anymore.


Alex

Yeah, time to tend to practice self care. So what was the-- we kind of talked a little bit about your increase in alcohol consumption over time. Where was the turning point for you when you wanted to or when you started your sober journey?


Jules

So I hit 40.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And I had the stereotypical midlife breakdown. It was inevitable, really. It was inevitable. I've been working hard really hard. Like seven days a week, completely burnt out. My face is to melt because I was so exhausted.


Alex

Right.


Jules

And I would top myself up with drink with wine on a Friday and a Saturday night because I saw it as I deserve it. I deserve to get pitched because I've worked so hard. I deserve it. And unfortunately, at the age of 40, I had a breakdown. I say, unfortunately, but I actually mean fortunately because it changed my life. It completely woke me up and I hate to say and everything began to unravel or the person that I thought I was in the armor that I was wearing and I'm a warrior. It just all fell apart and I had to leave my job. I had to leave so many things, but I had to leave myself. And even though I look back at my old self and I love her, I love my old self. I also love who I am now on what I'm becoming and finding out who I am now. And I think , so I'm 48. So it's taken me eight years of exploring sobriety and healing and I do sober January. And then it is the last day, you know, sober January at a line at my gin bottles and I'd be like, oh, I'm really deserving of this gin cause I've just spent a month being sober, sorting my heads out. Good idea to get pissed at the end of the month. And again, that's a normal. You know, we do join January and sober October in Britain with the idea of definitely for me and others to get pitched at the end. And it's like, no, no, no. I wanted to explore further so I would tally in it. Tilly tally over the, you know, last couple of years. And then it was the last day of 2019, and it was new year's eve. And I was deciding to do another dry January. And in the morning, I woke up and just went, I think I'm done. I mean, I'm done. And it was a really clear mark in my head. It was like when I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking, I was just like, yeah, I'm done now. I smoke loads don't need to smoke anymore. And I sort of felt that with alcohol, it was yeah, I don't think I need to drink anymore. I don't know why I'm doing this. And I had, you know, decreased and decreased and decreased over the years. And I've been moderating. And then I just thought, I don't actually need it. So it's been 20 months. 20 months of being alcohol free, and it has been an adventure.


Alex

Congratulations.


Jules

Thank you.


Alex

And I honestly just got shivers when you said you just had this feeling of you were done, because I can kind of relate that a little bit. I mean, I didn't know that I was quitting forever when I quit, but it was I could never do a dry January. I would look at people doing a dry January and be like, I could never, ever do that. And so the idea of me committing to a month alcohol free was massive. But there was this big feeling with certainty of like I was-- it was like the same kind of feeling of certainty. But it was like, I'm done for a month. It was not like I'm done forever. And I think there are certain, like, there are different kinds of people. And it sounds like I really connected. Like, we're similar in that regard is just rip the band aid off, but it takes you a while to get to that point. And then when you rip it off, you're like, okay it's done. Throw that away.


Jules

Yeah. I think that's really true. And I think a lot of people when you become alcohol free. You don't see the background. You don't see the steps leading up.


Alex

Yep.


Jules

And I think that sometimes you know, if you're out there saying I'm alcohol free and you say I'm 20 months. People are like, oh, wow, that's great. And how you just did it like that. And it's like, no. No, there was many, many years. And, you know, I look back at journals, and most of my journals say, I wish that I could moderate. I wish that I could stop. So I'm going to stop for this month. All I feel shame again because I drank last night. And, you know, it was a repetitive pattern.


Alex

Right.


Jules

You know, over the last many years.


Alex

Yeah, I definitely had that, too. I don't know if I have-- I journaled super inconsistently, but I bet even as young as, like, in my early teens, I was like, I wish I didn't drink. Took me like, a decade to finally quit.


Jules

Completely, and I think that I know when I was younger, I had to regret because I have a hangover or I have done something really stupid. As time went on, it was like the regret became shame, and it became a feeling of, like, anger toward myself that I wasn't able to hold my drink. I wasn't, you know, I went to places and I blackout. I black out a lot. And I just thought, you know, the amount of times that that happened, I just thought, this isn't good for me. This isn't healthy. You know, it wasn't for in the morning over my corn flakes and I was a binge drinker so I wouldn't drink for ages. And then I would blow out. And then the regret and the shame the next morning.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And checking my text. The big show that I hadn't sent exes any messages or anything like that.


Alex

Oh, I can still relate to that feeling. So you and I connected originally, I think, through one year no beer way back. And now you know, we're obviously connected through Sober Curios Yoga and the Mindful Life Practice. I wonder if you could tell me a bit about the different tools that you use when you were quitting drinking on your journey.


Jules

So I really like structure. I thrive with structure, and I thought I needed a program. So I started off with "One year No Beer" which was brilliant. But I found it overwhelming and there was-- you know, there are amazing people that I connected with, and I'm so grateful for it. But I found myself getting lost--


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

Amongst many, many people on the Facebook site that "One Year No Beer" has. But I did make some beautiful connections, and one of them was yourself and a couple of other people who were like my light houses, like absolute lighthouses. So to me, I think it was the structure that I was really needing and I needed community. I think that was my biggest thing. When I decided to stop drinking a couple of years ago, I had no community. There wasn't anybody that was not drinking other than people who were maybe sort of hardcore, serious drinkers who were wanting to give up and were following the AA routes. And I explored that, but I just thought it's not tallying. I'm much more about holistic. I'm much more-- I'm interested in the psychology of why people become addicted. So for me, I wasn't the route for me to go down. So I knew that I needed other people who were maybe like me or in similar sort of communities. And I would say that has been one of the biggest and most important things is meeting others and most of I met online and they live across the world. But it's just you know, shame dies, doesn't it? Shame dies when you can share your story with others.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And, you know, one of my heroes Brene Brown. I think she's been sober like 25 years or something like that. And she was you know, a catalyst for me as part of my sobriety. I just thought you know, this amazing woman who's all about vulnerability and shame, is sober and is able to share her story. Then maybe I could share with others because I kept a lot of myself hidden. You know, doing this is like oh, my God, exposing. But, you know, I'm at a stage now where it's like I'm really proud. I'm so proud of being alcohol free. I really am. So I would say community, connection and consistency for I stopped drinking out. I wasn't consistent. I was all over the shop. I'd be very much all or nothing. I would do ten exercise classes a day or not anything for a week. I would eat healthy for a week and then live on pizza. I was incredibly inconsistent. And to me, I thought that was my most important thing with consistency as wake up every morning with Intention Journal. I meditate, I do my yoga, and every single day I have a routine in a structure which keeps me on the path, and it keeps me. It keeps me grounded. You know, I have a tendency to be manic or sleep. It's either manic or sleep. And I just thought my sobriety needs to have safety around it. And to me, that structure, hence coming to yoga classes every day because it gives me that purpose. It gives me that reason. It gives me community and sharing with other people the ups and downs of sobriety and healing. So yeah, I would say that to me is the most important thing is community and consistency. And a picks up of coffee.


Alex

Yes. I got mine too.


Jules

Decaf. I can't have caffeine anymore.


Alex

Oh really?


Jules

Oh, that's the other thing is that I gave up alcohol. I became I can't have sugar, I can't have caffeine. I went from one extreme to the other senestea decaf.


Alex

And we were speaking about this. I think I was thinking about this the other day with me. Maybe I think you might have been there in the Sober Circle. We were talking about how so many people go alcohol free and then make other big lifestyle changes, like vegetarian or I know I had this massive ripple through my life where I became alcohol free and then vegan and then stop coffee and then sugar for in a really short span of time. And then I ended up bringing some of those things back into my life.


Jules

All of the thing.


Alex

Yeah. The most important thing for me is sobriety. And then I'm like, okay, if I have some sugar or some coffee it's alright.


Jules

Okay. And I can understand it. I'm definitely from my own perspective. I'm very extreme and all or nothing. And I have an addiction to everything. I could be addicted to avocados. It's that I just have a very sort of when I want to do something. I'm incredibly focused and I will do it, but I will do it to an extreme. So I will exercise to an extreme. I'll be sober with extreme.


Alex

Yup.


Jules

I'll be no sugar to an extreme. And again, I think that being sober and that allows me to find that middle path, you know, that place of it's alright to just slow down and to find that middle place of groundedness and life is so much sweeter.


Alex

Right. Yeah. So tell me about your journey becoming a yoga teacher. And I think you and I are similar in the sense that we were both practicing and teaching yoga before sobriety right? And so tell me about first of all, becoming a yoga teacher and then how it's different. I guess I shouldn't ask two questions at once. Start with tell me about becoming a yoga teacher.


Jules

I practiced yoga on and off I think over 20 years and it had sort of an inconsistent practice. And then when I had my breakdown, I was very, very ill. I was really ill. I couldn't get out of bed and I needed to do something. And I just did very simple breath practice, meditation practice. And yoga essentially saved my life. It really did. And I just thought, I want to learn to be a teacher for me. And if I share that with others, that's brilliant. But I very much wanted to learn to understand why I was doing these postures. What was this philosophy? What was it about? What was behind the classes that we go to? Why do we do this? And why did it have such an amazing effect on my life?


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

You know, I discovered self compassion through yoga. I didn't even know what that meant before you know, I had my breakdown. And I would say that's really when I started. So I trained as a children's teacher and then a teenager and then realized I didn't want to work with kids. I was like, I work for years with kids. And I just thought, oh man, I don't have the energy for that anymore.


Alex

Same.


Jules

And then unfortunately, I was in a very unhealthy marriage and left the marriage and went and lived in an Ashram for a couple of months in Whales. And I come from Wales. So I just thought, let's go for circle going retrain be yoga teacher. So I spent a couple of months being alcohol free living in an ashram. And it was amazing. It was I suddenly sat with all those feelings. All those feelings that I've been repressing for years. And I just thought, you know, even if I never teach a class of yoga, that to me isn't why I'm doing this. I need to learn for me. I need to understand what you agree is about. For me, it's my journey. It's my it's my connection to myself, to my real self. And it's a way of connecting with others. So I did my training and then I think it was that was quite a few years ago now, maybe five or six years ago. And over the past couple of years, I've been teaching yoga classes and I've been working in creativity and well being work. Ironically, which I wasn't able to look after myself, but I could look after others. And yoga enabled me to have the tools to start looking after myself. It was like I was a stereotypical healer where I'd look after others, care about others, support others but I didn't do that for myself. And when I trained stay a yoga teacher, that's when I started learning to make sure I did my own practice first to fill my cup. And that for me was what yoga teaching was about. That in order to support, to teach, to work with others, I do it to myself first. And then I had enough to authentically give to others rather than give it from a place of lack.


Alex

And so did you find like for myself, I found my yoga experience shifted after sobriety. Did you feel that as well? And what changed for you?


Jules

Oh, my God, completely, completely. I think it was the embodiment of it. I began to really embody my practice and to really think about you know, the philosophy and how can I apply that philosophy practically in everyday life. You know, I think that often people see yoga and they see the postures on Instagram and things like that and don't equate it to actually the philosophy and why we do yoga. And for me, it was very much about self compassion that when I first was practicing yoga, it was hardcore. I did power yoga and Ashram San Diego, which is great. But I couldn't do that now.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And I think I ended up when I became sober, doing Yin like twice a day. I've gone from being young, very young, completely in. And I would say my practice now is much more balanced. But I think I spent the first six months of sobriety just knowing there on the mat crying. In year in and having asleep. I think that was my yoga practice for six months.


Alex

And that's funny because I went the opposite way in that or not the opposite way but I became so young. Like, I remember the summer I was coming up to 100 days sober and I like had a personal trainer. I was doing my bar training, was doing my spin instructor training, and when I got to yoga, I could only do yin and I couldn't even do shavasana. It was like to-- I had to come into child posing something about putting my hand on the mat. I was just so go, go, go. And luckily that kind of chilled out of it. Now I have a really good balance. You know, I have my Yin. I have my bar. It's all good.


Jules

And I think it is. I think I'm finally getting the balance because I think I did six months of Yin and I think I did six months of hit. And again I went through a very similar thing of light sleeping, and then I was like, high really high. And now I would say, I'm just finding the balance.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And I think it's about listening about listening to myself. I think my yoga practice, I didn't use to listen. I didn't used to listen to myself about anything. You know, I just was not connected to myself. And I would say the past couple of years, that has been the most sort of change with my yoga is that I listen.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And if I go to class, then I just want to lie down. I will, you know, I'd go to classes in the olden days and try and compete, and my ego would be there. And I'd be like, she's really bendy. I'm going to be bendy, too. Whereas now, like, I'm just going to do that pose. I'm just going to rest. I'm just going to turn up. That's enough.


Alex

And that's what really is the sign of an advanced practice I think. It's like having the humility to not worry about what anyone else is doing and just kind of feel into your own experience.


Jules

Yeah. And I think that it took me a long time to get there because my ego wouldn't let me. And I had to, you know, I got very ill. So it meant I had to stop. And I had to listen to my body, and I had to listen to what my body was screaming and shouting. And once I did that, that's when the body -mind connection started happening.


Alex

So tell me about your journey becoming Sober Curious Yoga teacher. What made you want to become involved in the program?


Jules

I think that for me again, sobriety and yoga just go hand in hand.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

Absolutely hand in hand. And I know how much it impacted me. I know that again, as I said, that structure, having connection, talking with other people and knowing that other people have caught similar experiences, like authentic conversations about sobriety and wellbeing, rather than you know, pretend and putting on a mask.


Alex

Yeah.


Jules

And it was enlightening. It was just enlightening to be around other sober people who all practice yoga in all different kinds of ways across the world. And I just thought someone the opportunity came about. I just have to again, it was similar to when I trained to be a yoga teacher. I just thought, let's just do this for me. You know, all of my yoga teacher training has been. Let's do this for me. Let's learn and explore and experiment and see what happens and allow things to unfold. And so when yeah the trainer came up, I just was really excited. I also won the training. Didn't I?


Alex

Yes.


Jules

Better.


Alex

I was thinking didn't to win the cruise, and then you did the training. And I was actually just thinking about that because I said, I don't think I told you this. But I was like, I'm gonna print a picture of Jules of space and carried around the cruise. And then I was just so busy the day after I forgot.


Jules

I was there. So yes, I'd entered the drawer and I'd won a cruise in Abu Dhabi, which sounds amazing. But given that I live in Bristol, in the UK and we're in the middle of lockdown, I just fought have to give it a challenge to get to might be quite challenging, but you know,I could try it. And then I was really cheeky said this is a great price because I have the typical of yoga teachers training. And you said, yeah, that be great. And I'm so glad that I did. I'm so glad because again, it felt like it was the next step that I didn't necessarily no. If you have said to me 20 months ago, Jules, you'll be teaching. Sober yoga, I just across the world, I would have been gods mat. I would have been how does that work? And again, being sober, I've let things unfold. Like the control has had to let go of and I've had the surrendered to whatever opportunities and things arrive. So for me, the sober training tallied. And it very much brought home a lot of my own experiences of sobriety and yoga. And it's just been beautiful, you know, how amazing to share two things that are really important to me with other people. Just like a lovely for a lot of opportunity. And it means that I get a hope to see other people's journies and, you know, we're all different, more unique. We all got different journeys and reasons why we're on this path. But it's beautiful watching other people--


Alex

Y