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Alcohol as a Feminist Issue: The #SOBERGIRLSYOGA Revival

Updated: Apr 15, 2022



In episode 100 of the podcast, I bring Amber, Tasha, and Leigh on the show - three of the original members of the #SOBERGIRLSYOGA community. Back in the day, Sober Curious Yoga used to be #SOBERGIRLSYOGA. In this episode Myself, Tasha and Leigh chat about alcohol as a feminist issue and why there is a need for women's only spaces in the recovery world.



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Transcripts


Intro

Hi friend, this is Alex McRobs, founder of "The Mindful Life Practice" and you're listening to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world at age 23 and I never went back. I got sober in 2019 and I realized that there was no one talking about sobriety in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so I started doing it. I now live in Bali, Indonesia, and full-time run my community, "The Mindful Life Practice". I host online sober yoga challenges, yoga teacher trainings, and I work one on one with others, helping them break up with booze for good. In this podcast, I sit down with others in the sobriety and mental health space from all walks of life and hear their stories so that I can help you on your journey. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how. Alex

Alright. Hello. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of "Sober Yoga Girl". This is actually Episode 100 of the show, which is kind of cool. And it is a super special episode because I have some very special guests on the show with me today. So today, we're going to be talking a little bit about the original Sober Curious Yoga, which is actually called Sober Girls Yoga. And the reason why we're getting grouped together is because Sober Girls Yoga is having a revival, which the news is probably out by the time you are listening to this episode. But Sober Girls Yoga is the original program that we had for yoga and sobriety on The Mindful Life Practice. And what made it different than Sober Curious Yoga was that it was a space specifically for women, people who identify as women, and people who feel comfortable in women's only spaces to gather. And the reason why we shifted to Sober Curious Yoga was to make it a bit more inclusive. And now we've decided to keep both. So have an inclusive open-ended one and then also a women's only space. And so I'm really excited to bring it back. And I have three of the original, the OG's from Sober Girls Yoga. So they join us in the very first month of Sober Girls Yoga, which was July 2020. So I have Amber and Tasha with me who did the first 30-day challenge, and Leigh, who joined us, I think just after that as part of our Sober Girls club that used to meet every Sunday. And so all three of them have remained members of the Mindful Life Practice and have evolved on their journey. And now we're all getting back together to hang out and do the show. So welcome, guys. Thanks for being here.


Amber

Yay.


Alex

So how about before we start us off, I was wondering if each person could maybe introduce themselves, stay where they are in the world and how long they have been alcohol-free for.


Amber

I'll go ahead and start. Hello all, Amber here. Coming in from Bahrain. I have been sober for, I believe my app tells me I am just under two years. So I'm 662 days.


Alex

Wow.


Amber

So super exciting and happy to be here. Thanks, Alex, for bringing us back. Yay, to our group.


Tasha

Hi, everyone. My name is Tasha. I'm actually currently in Palm Springs, but I've been with The Mindful Life Practice kind of around the world since I've been with you all. So I did Alex's 30-days Sober Yoga challenge in July 2020. And that's really kind of like been my start when I started my nondrinking journey. And yeah, I've done Sober Curious Yoga Teacher Training. I don't know what you're calling it and have done a few different things with MLPC. So it's definitely been a huge life-changer for me.


Leigh

And I'm Leigh. I am in Philadelphia, which is… and I start a bit with the MLPC. I was living in Cincinnati at the time. And I was about probably 90 days sober when I started, maybe 120 days sober when I started with the MLPC. I have-- I was just trying to look, 764 days. I would have to check now my sober date, I consider it to be March 1st of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. And I have been with the MLPC doing yoga classes and also the Sober Curious Yoga, YTT training. And then also I did the 200-hour yoga teacher training with Alex. And now I'm in the 300-hour, and I teach a variety of classes with the MLPC. I love it. And I love doing yoga on Zoom. It's really nice. It's been great to be able to practice at home and connect with other people all around the world. So, it's been awesome.


Alex

How amazing is that to think of how far we've all come and the journey has evolved and changed since two years ago, you know. It's pretty cool. I was chuckling to myself because Amber and Tasha, the way you guys both picked up the talking stick, I was like, I feel like it's how you pick up the talking stick every single time. We're on a call.


Amber

Come on. Let's go, people.


Tasha

I always, wait.


Alex

I love that.


Amber

Like the awkward wait time that's happening.


Alex

Love it. So I know we kind of shared a little bit about in that kind of prompt, people shared a little bit about their journeys. Does anyone else want to share anything else about kind of like their sober journey or their sober evolution?


Amber

Yeah, I'll get you on that. I've been thinking about this today. Shocking.


Tasha

Bring that phrase into my lexicon.


Amber

So I started on June 4th. So when I came into Sober Girls Yoga, I was also about 30 days. And mine started was because I got super sick. And my doctor told me that with the prescriptions that I have to take every week, he said, you can go ahead and drink, but you can only have two drinks per week. And I knew myself well enough that that was not ever going to happen. That if I was to go and go out for a night, there's no possible way that I could just keep it to two. I would rationalize that, oh, next week I just won't have two. So then I can have four today, you know. And it would just become the cycle of abuse of my body. And so that's when I was like, okay, I've been trying to come up with an excuse for many years, off and on, trying to determine how do I moderate my drinking. And moderation was really difficult for me. It was a major challenge. I would find myself at bars moderating by having a glass of water between every drink. But then I would, like, be there having that glass of water, drinking it down as fast as I could so that I could have my next drink and looking around at other people and gauging, how drunk are they like, how drunk am I? Where am I on my journey tonight? How do I slow down? How do I speed up? And it was just overwhelming in my mind. And the next day, I would have really bad anxiety where I would kind of be really hard on myself about things that I said or things that the way that I behaved. And I would find myself texting people asking like, hey, what happened? Or like, hey, I'm really sorry for what I said. And it just became a real terrible experience. And so when this illness took over, it was almost like it was for a reason. Like the universe just opened and was like, here's what you got to do now, and here's what your decision is going to be about. So it was that decision to just stop. And I initially was like, I'm just going to do 90 days and see how I feel. And then my mom had mentioned she's like, why not just go for 100? And I was like, yeah, I could probably do that. So before I knew it, I was several months and feeling really good. And then that was when I was living in South Dakota. And then I had gotten a job here in Bahrain. And so I entered Bahrain you know, in August 2020. So still full in Covid and was like, you know, I'm going to start fresh in a country where I only know a few people from my previous time I lived here. And I am going to start as a non-drinker, and that's how I'm going to enter, and that's what I'm going to do. And it's taken my life to new places where I can actually deal with my issues and my shit without using alcohol as a crutch to shield me or to armor me. And I actually have to feel what I'm feeling and talk about it and no longer push it away because the truth always comes out. And all these feelings and things that I had been holding back for so long, they finally revealed themselves. And it took me to new places and my relationships with my friends, with my family. It's definitely taking me to experience life from a more holistic perspective. And, yeah, that's where I'm currently at, just dealing with all those little intricacies of life. And it feels really good. Some days I want to--like after a hard day, I'm like, this would be like the best time to just go to the bar, but it's honestly just a fleeting moment thought. And then I'm back to where I need to be. That's my little spiel.


Alex

Amazing. Thank you for sharing and congrats on almost being at two years. That's incredible. It's huge.


Amber

Thank you.


Leigh

I was thinking about this today, too, because I think I grew up thinking that drinking was pretty normal, you know. It was normal to get drunk or to hang over the next day and move on and get drunk again. That was just normal. That red wine was good for me. It had those antioxidants. It had that I don't know how you pronounce it, like resveratrol or something that we're supposed to be able to drink moderately and be able to participate with alcohol with ease as part of our lifestyle. And that was healthy in a way, like a normal lifestyle. And I was in a running group, and we would all fixate on being healthy and being able to run fast. And then after running, we would all go to the bar and drink a lot of beer, wine, whatever. We would do marathons. And it was really normal to do the marathon. And then after the marathon hit the beer tent right away, drink as much as we can, and focus really a lot on our health and wellness and fitness levels. And then at the same time drink a lot. And there was like this dichotomy for me, like, we're doing this one thing that's really healthy and then drinking, but I thought that was just normal and that's what we're supposed to be able to do. And it wasn't even a question for me that there was an issue. And I always thought, either you're a normal drinker and can drink normally or you're an alcoholic. And I would question myself, but I was always like, oh, I'm not an alcoholic, so I'm not over there. So it's okay if I'm a normal drinker and getting hangovers and drinking a lot. And I never really even thought about that alcohol is a poison, and we're all drinking this poison, and it's not really healthy. And at some point, well, I have said this before, but my sister and my son, both-- my sister sent me a book, the "Sober Curious" book. I can't remember what-- I think it's just called "Sober Curious" by Ruby Warrington. And that made me think a little bit, but I was like, oh, I don't really want to stop. And then, you know, my son stopped drinking, and I listened to the podcast and I was like, oh, this really resonates with me. This is the one thing, like, I'm doing all these things in the health industry and wellness, working on my, you know, eating well, I was, you know, eating plant-based, doing all this exercise, and yet I was still drinking. It was like the one thing that I really hadn't addressed in my life. And I thought it was normal that I was drinking. And then it flipped a switch for me that I needed to stop. What was the question? How did we get here? Was that it? I don't know. I'm going on about other things, but I just think it's like a weird dichotomy that we're all focused in our society about health and wellness, and then we ignore the whole thing about alcohol and that we don't want to even address it as an issue. And that was definitely true for me.


Alex

Yeah, absolutely. Tasha, tell us a bit about your journey.


Tasha

I feel like my strength is a little bit different in that I was not seeking to become sober. Like, didn't really have like, you know, it has the medical thing. And they had kind of like a realization. But I stumbled into the yoga program because I was just doing kind of like a monthly cleanse anyways. And I was like, oh, this would be a nice way to do yoga and have a little bit of accountability for just taking a little summer recharge. But then I guess the more just kind of as I started building the habit of not drinking and it was also pandemic and I was living with my parents over the summer. My mom's an organ donor recipient. So I was being extra careful. So really isolated, having this community where I was, you know, collaborating with people and then just building the habit of not drinking. All of a sudden I realized how much I liked it. And then it kind of shifted for me to be about a thing of building relationships. And so that since I stopped drinking, like, I've made so many new friendships and relationships that have all been built without alcohol. And that's kind of where I think, like me not drinking, that's where my important ties. I realized that I just hadn't built relationships in that way before. So I guess I don't think I've ever described myself as a sober person. I don't tell people that or I don't really track my date in that way, but it's kind of like changing my narrative in my head of like, I don't drink and I'll tell people I don't drink, but I think it just feels like less of a-- like, once I let it go, it was kind of easy to keep it going because I had to build my life with these other things, like a strong yoga practice and just like relationships and all this stuff. So then once I let it go, it's kind of nice to-- it's like just distant enough, I guess. Yeah, I feel like I'm rambling a little bit, but yeah, I'm not sure of anything else to add at the moment.


Alex

Thanks for sharing. And I love how each of everyone's stories is a little bit different in how they stumbled into the practice. And I think that's important because it shows that it's not all one size fits all or, you know, everyone has a different journey in a different way that they end up where they are. As you guys are talking, I was feeling I know this is like a little bit different because we're recording a podcast which tons of people are going to listen to. But as I was talking to you guys, I was just reflecting on how much I miss Sober Girls Yoga, and I don't think I realized that. And Sober Curious yoga is amazing. I was having this conversation with someone the other day who was not really-- was a bit confused about why I was bringing it back and what the difference was. And I said, you know, it's amazing to have these inclusive spaces, but there's something special about being in a women's only space where I feel like I can comfortably be myself and share kind of everything that's going on with me and just feel really safe. And I was wondering if you all could share. What is your opinion? Why do you think there's a need for women-centered spaces in the sober world? Or is there a need? What's the difference?


Tasha

I can't recall what college book it is. We write a few books in the book club, but one of them really talked about how AA was very male. I think originally it was only for males perhaps, and then the whole program is written by men, and you know, people will kind of crochet kit for that patriarchy? Not strong with my words always. And I think that's something that really turned me off. As I said, for my own personal journey, I wasn't seeking to get sober. Like, I would have never found myself in an AA meeting or something like that. But I think it's also a big piece of that. The way that Sober Girls Yoga which structured is very like-- it's kind of like being at brunch with friends, which is like a cliche, but like a woman's habit, hobby, I don't know. And it wasn't rules-based. And I never felt like, you know, I had to do this and be kind of like a subordinate to anyone. Like everyone was coming together at the same level, at the same place, and it just like made it so that it was building friendships rather than fitting into some sort of power structure, which I think, like really as a woman, something that I was really resistant towards.


Alex

Yeah. There's a really good point. And that was one thing about the recovery program I was part of, which it's not officially a recovery program, but One Year No Beer, which I love because it got me to where I am today and love, love it. But everyone, it was run by two men and everyone was running a marathon. And the funny thing about it was that I ended up literally signing up for a 10K and I then had to leave Rolf Gates. I was on Rolf Gates training. I was 100 days sober. He said to me, why don't you stay and be my assistant at this weekend--? I'm like, I can't, I have to go run this 10K that I don't want to do that. Everyone says that we should be doing it at the end of your, you know, 100 days sober. And that's not to say I'm sure for everyone it works. And that's why they had it as part of the program. But that was not who I was as a person. And so that was why, for me, having a more spiritual competition, not even a competition, more spiritual practice in your recovery really resonated more with me. And I think it resonated with a lot of I mean, still, in Sober Curious Yoga, we're probably 95% women anyway, but it just seemed to resonate with a lot of women as well.


Tasha

I also feel that being women, we would obviously talk about the drinking that we talking in, and like in frames of dating or things that like you know, felt comfortable sharing with other women.


Alex

True.


Tasha

Like, oh, I went on my first date sober, which I wouldn't bring that up in a share its space, probably.


Alex

True. It's very true.


Amber

I think, for me, it was you know, post me too is when my personal feminist journey really got going. I had always been seeking a feminist understanding and breaking the patriarchy throughout my early 20s and then, you know, post me too, I feel like, it became very obvious that women needed more spaces that were dedicated for them, by them, holding each other up. Because we come from this patriarchal view that, you know, it's men and then it is all competition between women. And you're not as good as that other person because there's always somebody better. And so having a space that allowed for all women to come together where there are really no rules, the rules are, be nice and be compassionate and work on your empathy. And that is the space that Sober Girls Yoga provided where we could talk about our own issues and what we were trying to sort through while dealing with, you know, the influence of the alcohol industry constantly in our faces, making us feel ashamed because we cannot control our alcohol intake or we get drunk and we're supposed to be able to have some sort of control. I mean, all of this, like what feminist theory really looks at is that control factor. And that's what alcohol is constantly telling us you know what we have to do in order to be better and to be bigger and we have to compete. And it's a doggie dog world, and that's not how we should be living our lives and that we should be uplifting one another and connecting and creating community. And I think that's what I enjoyed most was to be able to bring my raw bean and others were able to be vulnerable and raw with me as well.


Tasha

And I think too, just the structure of starting with a check-in. Everyone just has an opportunity to talk. And that's something that you know, in a bigger space or like, you know, mixed space where you maybe don't feel as comfortable. I feel like that just always opened the door. And there are sometimes people I know wouldn't share, and that's fine also. But just having that neutral starting point, I think was very empowering.


Amber

Yeah. And also it was a routine, so you knew what was expected, so you didn't really have that angst and anxiety that you may have a very loosey-goosey type situation. I'm dropping all sorts of word bombs.


Alex

It's super interesting to hear, though. It's really interesting to hear your reflections on moves that I thought I was making to open it up actually didn't work as well, but that's cool. Leigh, you were going to say something. What were you going to say?


Leigh

I just was going to say that for me, it was just like it felt like a safe space where I was able to share openly without being like, I think Tasha and Amber really hit on it, but that equal playing field where it's like a circle and everyone's on an even level to come in and share. And it was also small enough and intimate enough of a group that we really got to know each other. And I really looked forward to it each week, too. It was like getting together with my girlfriends. Yeah, just that safety and the holding space is really a nice thing and a non-judgmental without getting advice, just being able to share freely with friends.


Alex

Yeah.


Tasha

I was going to say, yeah, it's like things that I've carried into conversations with girlfriends also. Like the rules that we set in the circle, like the non-advice-giving and stuff like, you know, it's kind of helped me within my female relationships also of building that structure of just open sharing, I guess, compared to, like, complaining or other, you know.


Leigh

Yeah, really, I feel like the structure of it. And I think we learned a lot of these things in the Sober Curious Yoga teacher training about the ways to get people to open up, like being curious instead of coming in with advice, just asking why, what's going on with that? Can you explain it more in it? And I've taken it into other relationships, too, and how I relate to other people. And I feel like it is really helpful because when you come in, like, just trying to tell people what you think is true, you don't really know what is true for them, and you're not going to change people's minds that way. Right. I think this, that and the other thing. And then they're like, no, I don't think so. Just asking, why do you feel this way? What's going on? I think it really helps a lot with relating with other people.


Alex

Absolutely. Amber, you mentioned a little bit about the idea of alcohol being a feminist issue. Does anyone want to touch more on that?


Amber

Well.


Tasha

I think that--go, Amber.


Amber

You go first, Tasha.


Tasha

I want to hear what you have to say. You just work it out as you say it.


Amber

You know, before I started looking at alcohol as a feminist issue, it's very much on diet culture. It's a feminist issue because my thoughts are is that the diet culture industry and the alcohol industry, they work hand in hand. And what they're doing is they're supplying women with these mixed messages and ideas about how they should live their life. And first of all, like, the majority of the money that we pay to the diet culture and to alcohol is lining the pockets of old white men. So pretty much right there, it's like they have their thumb on us or their foot on our heads, holding us down. Because the more that they can keep us drunk, hungry, deprived and living in a state of shame, the longer they have the power and the control. And so alcohol is a feminist issue because when women stop drinking and start leading life that is a sober life, they become empowered. They're less stressed, they're more mentally cognizant and able to navigate the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of life from a healthy standpoint. All the while uplifting and holding other people, men and women, and non-gender binary. However you present yourself, we are able to hold everybody up and empower one another. But when we're drunk and hungry, we have nothing. We have nothing but shame, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. We're an unhealthy batch. So I am all for us starting to shift the narrative of that feminism, alcohol is a feminist issue. So Tasha, over to you. What you got.


Tasha