Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Feb 24 2021
In this first episode of Sober Yoga Girl, I personal, sharing my story of how I became a party girl at a young age, eventually quit drinking entirely, and founded my own business, The Mindful Life Practice Community. I tell the story of how I ended up moving from Canada to the Middle East and how the different environments I was in taught me about myself. I also share how I began working one on one with women and men as a sober coach and also developed Sober Girls Yoga.
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.
Hello. Welcome to the "Sober Yoga Girl Podcast". My name is Alex and I am the creator of the podcast. I am a sober yoga girl who is Canadian, currently living in Abu Dhabi. I created the "Mindful Life Practice" community which is an online yoga community for expats, and travelers, and like-minded people all over the world. And I also created Sober Girls Yoga which is a program to help women quit alcohol and develop a daily yoga practice. I work one-on-one with individuals life coaching, helping them quit drinking, and create a life that they don't need alcohol to escape from. So, this is Episode 1 of the Sober Yoga Girl Podcast, and in this podcast episode, I wanna introduce you a little bit to me, tell you a bit about my story, and how I ended up doing what I'm doing today. So, let's start with my personal journey with alcohol. So, I grew up in Canada and one of the most interesting things I have learned through living abroad, I've been in the Middle East now for six years, and I've learned that every culture has a different connotation and experience and relationship with alcohol. Right? There's some countries like Kuwait where I lived in my early 20s where alcohol is completely illegal. And then, there's countries like Canada where I grew up in, where drinking is kind of a fundamental part of the culture. When I grew up as a child, I saw alcohol at weddings, at funerals, at barbecues, at engagement parties, at baby showers, on the weekend, you know, steak and wine with dinner. So, for me growing up, alcohol was a very normal part of Canadian life, and it was also something that as a teenager, I kind of associated with being popular and being cool. I thought drinking made me seem like a rebellious young girl. So, when I was a young teenager, the way that I got into drinking was kind of interesting. I was really young and I wasn't very cool as a young teenager in high school, and when I was around age 16, a older boy asked me out and then he later became my boyfriend. And suddenly, in this experience, I became extremely popular and I became someone that people were, I felt like I just got more attention. And so, subconsciously in my head, I started to associate drinking alcohol and going to parties and having a boyfriend with being things that would make me cool. And so, that was kind of how I first got into drinking to begin with, and that was when I was around 15 or 16 years old. And then, I perpetually kind of ended up on this drinking cycle of going out to parties, hanging out with my friends, binging, and it was just something that became a normal part of my adult life. So, by the time I got to university, I was partying on the weekends regularly. I started, once I became legal, I started going out for afternoon drinks with friends, occasionally throughout the week, and it just became a huge part of my identity. I was Alex, the party girl. So, when I was 23, I made the decision to go abroad and start teaching internationally on the other side of the world. So, my real passion was I wanted to work full-time in yoga but it just wasn't gonna be possible, financially, to stay and work part-time as a yoga teacher and sustain the the kind of life that I wanted to. So, I had finished my undergrad, and I had gotten a Bachelor of Education, and all my friends were teaching abroad, and it was suggested to me that I should go abroad. So, I ended up accepting a job in Kuwait, which is literally on the other side of the world, it is probably the furthest away that I could have gone, and the most different culturally than my life in Canada. And, one of the key things I remember about when I was moving to Kuwait was everyone's saying to me, You know, alcohol's illegal there. Right? And I moved there, and once I was living in Kuwait, I got this really obsessive mentality around drinking. So, I found it really interesting that now, all of a sudden, there were events that did not revolve around alcohol like they did in Canada, you know, like weddings had no alcohol at them. You could go for a work party and there would be no alcohol. And this was completely different to the way that I was raised. In some neighboring countries, alcohol was legal, like Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, and Qatar, and Lebanon. And so, I got this obsessive mentality around flying out of the country and leaving and going to vacation spots where I could party and drink on the weekend, and then flying back to Kuwait. And I had this thing going on in my head of like, my life will be so much better and I'll be so much happier if I'm living in a country where alcohol is legal. So, at the end of my two years in Kuwait, I ended up getting a job in Abu Dhabi which is, in my opinion, one of the best cities in the world. I love living in Abu Dhabi, highly recommend. I think it's an amazing place. But one component of life in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is that there is a huge expat party culture. There are lots of brunches that are kind of all you can drink setups where you pay a fee at the beginning, and you get a wristband, and then you can drink as much as you want all afternoon. They start at noon on a Friday, carry on until the late night. There are ladies nights around the city where women can drink for free, and I, all of a sudden, went from two extremes. Right? I went from this extreme in Kuwait where alcohol was prohibited and illegal to, all of a sudden, this setup where alcohol was plentiful and it was normal to drink to excess and to party. And so, I kind of started to go into this really deep mental health spiral, and I was already struggling with my mental health. Interestingly, I was always an anxious kid. I was always a stressed out kid. I always had a potential to have mental health problems as a young kid, genetically, it ran in my family. But, when I really started to get severe problems was when I was around 15 and 16 and that was the exact same time that I started drinking. So, looking back, I find it really interesting that I never put two and two together that alcohol was affecting my mental health so much, but when I got towards this point in time in Abu Dhabi years later, I was 27 years old. At this point, I was a yoga teacher. I was taking spinning classes multiple times a week. I was taking workout classes. I was meditating. I was eating healthy. I had an amazing job. I lived in the best city in the world. I had great friends, great family. And I was like, Why am I so depressed? Why am I so unhappy? Why am I struggling so much? And it was obviously the alcohol. I had two incidents in the time leading up to when I quit that were really pivotal moments for me. The first was I was on a backpacking trip around Southeast Asia for Christmas of 2019. One of the things that I had done was I had booked a boat journey up the Mekong River. It was to connect Lao to Thailand. It was gonna be a two-day slow boat tour and I was gonna arrive in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and I found out getting on the boat that alcohol was not in the village. Villagers didn't drink alcohol, and I was so pissed off. I was like my new year's ruined because I can't drink, which is just the most ridiculous thing in retrospect, but I had such a mindset around, you know, I need to have a drink to have fun. I need to have a drink to have a proper new year's. Right? That was my mindset. And I was so upset that I was seriously considering booking a flight from wherever I was, Lao to Bangkok, so that I could have a proper new year's which was gonna cost me like thousands of dollars. And I remember packing a bunch of beer, and getting on the boat, and going to this village, and when I look back I'm like, this should have been the most amazing new year's of my life. Right? I was in Lao. I was in this village. I was away from all the chaos, all the drama of new year's eve, and it should have been amazing. Once in a lifetime opportunity, and yet I was there, angry, that my new year's was ruined. And that was a kind of a pivotal moment for me where I was like, this is this is bad. And then, the same kind of thing happened a few months later. I was celebrating my 27th birthday. My mom had flown all the way from Canada to meet me in Morocco. Morocco was this dream destination of mine. I wanted my whole life to go to Morocco, my mom knew that. I've been trying to make her meet me. There we finally did it for my 27th birthday. And for my 27th birthday, we were hiking up the High Atlas mountains, and staying at a homestay on the top of the mountain. Again, once in a lifetime, incredible thing that I had dreamed about, and I found out that the homestay didn't have wine because Morocco is a Muslim country, and so there are parts of Muslim countries where there is no alcohol. And so, I was upset and I was like, we need to get our own wine. Bought a bottle of red wine, carried it in my backpack up the mountain, literally climbing the mountain with this bottle of wine. And my mom is someone who's super generous and super friendly and always wants to share wine with other people. I remember turning to her and saying, Mom, do not give anyone this wine because it's my birthday and I wanna have my wine to celebrate it. And so, we got up the mountain, we drank the wine, it finished really quickly. My mom had ordered a cake to literally be carried up the mountain on a donkey's back, which is like the most amazing thing, and then they sang to me and it was so special. And again, it should have been like the best birthday of my life and yet I was upset, because we were out of wine, and there was no more wine. And I went to bed that night just really reflecting on it and thinking, if having access to alcohol, and not having access to alcohol is impacting my life so much that I'm making plans around it, and I'm disappointed if I don't have it, and I think special events are ruined if I don't have it, then I really should think about quitting. So, it wasn't ever a big, you know, rock bottom moment as some people think of. When they think of someone that quit drinking, they think, Oh, you must have hit a rock bottom. That was not it for me. It was just many many little moments of like, this is not working for me anymore. So, I walked down the mountain and of course, we had like four more days in Morocco together, and I could not quit drinking then because it was gonna ruin my vacation. So, I had said, you know, after I leave Morocco, and I didn't tell my mom this, I just had it in my own mind. After I leave Morocco, I'm gonna take a break from drinking. So, I decided, you know, it was gonna be 28 days off drinking, and this was the first time in my adult life I had ever taken a break from drinking that I could remember that was longer than a month. I had been on some yoga teacher trainings where we were not allowed to drink alcohol in Bali, and in Mexico, and in both of these occasions, I actually snuck off the property and on days off had a drink or two. I didn't get drunk, or party, or anything but I kind of left the property and had beer or wine with my dinner. So, I actually had not gone a long period of time in my adult life without drinking. The first 10 days was a real struggle. I was going through withdrawals. I was having panic attacks at work. My mental health was very low. My supervisor at work like, bless her heart, it was like one of the nicest things someone's ever done for me. She kind of sat with me and like held me in this emotional panic attack, and of course, I couldn't tell her that I was withdrawing from alcohol. I was so ashamed of it. And she kind of set me up with a counselor. And I ended up joining this online support group for people quitting alcohol. You know, I made it to about maybe 10, 11, 12 days. I somehow turned this leaf where I was starting to feel good again, and I'm starting to feel better than I ever had as an adult. Right? When you quit alcohol, it gets worse before it gets better, trust me. And a lot of people throw in the towel because it's so hard in the early days, but trust me, it will get better and you will get over a hump, and you'll hit a point where you start to feel whole again, you start to feel healthy again, and you start to feel like, you know, I had a lot of anxiety and a lot of depression that I hadn't even pinpointed was a result of alcohol, and as soon as I removed that factor from my life, it just felt like everything was like fine again. Everything was gonna be okay again. But it did take me about two weeks to get there. And this online Facebook group that I joined, it was a community to take breaks from alcohol. It was 28-day, 90-day, 365-day challenges. In that group, it was amazing for me. The group has like 20 000 members. I'm no longer part of it anymore because I've broken off and started my own thing, but the group had 20 000 members, and that was an epiphany for me because I was like, Holy crap. All this time I felt like I'm the only person struggling with drinking when really there's 20 000 other people out there just like me. And that was when it started to dawn on me, you know, maybe there's not something wrong with me, maybe alcohol is really the problem. I ended up being part of this community, granting a really big following on the group because I was posting a lot about my journey, and people were connecting with what I was writing. And when I hit 60 days, the group asked me, Can you write a testimonial for us? And I really wanted to. I wanted to be one of those inspirational stories that helped other people quit just like it had helped me, but I was also terrified of what would happen. I was terrified I would lose my job if I came out about my drinking problem. I was terrified people would judge me. So, I sat with this invitation to write a testimonial for 30 whole days, thinking about it every day for a month. And at the end, I decided on my 90th day that I was gonna write the testimonial. And then, when I wrote it, I kind of had this worry in my head of like, What if people come across this and it becomes gossip? You know, Alex has done a testimonial about this sober group that she's been part of. So, I thought, You know, I need to get ahead of this story, so I need to post it on my own social media. So, I posted it on my social media. To my surprise, I had like this overwhelming support, and love, and admiration from all these people in my life. Even my drinking buddies, even people who, you know, I hadn't talked to in years. A lot of people DM'd me and messaged me saying that they too had drinking problems, you know, or a loved one had drinking problems in their life, and I began to realize that, you know, all this time, I thought that alcohol was what was gonna help me connect to people, what was gonna help me bond, help me socialize, make friends, when in reality, talking about sobriety had done just that. And it was so, just powerful to come to that realization. So, I started posting about my sober journey on Instagram, on Facebook and gaining momentum. And around this time, I was also kind of realizing, you know, I don't know if teaching was always necessarily the right thing for me. My passion was always yoga, my passion was helping heal others. So, I went to see this psychic who I speak very highly of and I'm still very connected to him. And I didn't believe in psychics at the time. I didn't believe in tarot cards. I didn't believe in fortune tellers, but I had a colleague who said, You know, you should go see him, he's amazing, he changed my life. So, I went to see him, he said, Close your eyes. Count back from 21 to 1. Closed my eyes, counted back, opened them. He said, You were never meant to be a teacher, you were meant to be a healer. You're meant to open this resort, Tai chi yoga, Pilates dance, fusion of everything. You are meant to become a life coach. And at this point in my life, I had no idea what a life coach is. I'm like, What's a life coach? I had been thinking about getting a masters in counseling. He said, you know, become a life coach. So, I googled it, found some life coaching courses, signed up for one, and then started fueling all of my energy and passion into this future that I had dreamed of all my life, but I had helped myself back from, and I think Dan, the psychic, could kind of see in me something that I couldn't see in myself. So, you know, this idea that he had for me, you know, you're gonna create something different. This was a passion and a dream of mine I'd had for years and he just helped me believe in my potential. So, I went outside on this path, began really focusing on the yoga, the bar, the meditation, doing more trainings, and I trained to become a life coach. And at this point, I never imagined that I could become a sober coach. It was an aspect of who I was, you know, I'm sober, it was not my identity, and it was not something that I really felt I could lead people through. So, I began doing life purpose coaching and I coached random people, you know, from Instagram, from friends, probably about maybe a handful of people, five to ten people. And one of these people was a colleague who shared with me that he was having problems with his drinking. So, we made a plan for him to go 90-days alcohol free. I supported him through it, did coaching through that whole time, and at the very end, he wrote me a letter, and he wrote at the end, Thank you for saving my life. I opened a letter, I shed tears in my eyes, and I was like, This is what I'm meant to do, this is what I meant to do. And I decided to kind of shift things around, become Sober Yoga Girl and start doing sober coaching. So, from this, everything kind of snowballed. So, I created my online yoga studio, which is called the "Mindful Life Practice" community and this was something that the psychic kind of set the seed in for me and now that has grown to become a community of, we have about 10 different yoga Pilates, teachers all over the world offering live classes on zoom. Everything gets recorded and uploaded to an on-demand archive. We do 30-day yoga challenges, that's our most popular program and we've actually run, I think 11 challenges at this point, online, which is amazing. We have people from all over the world doing that. So, that is like my main big business. And then, my second project is Sober Girls Yoga, and this was kind of inspired by my coaching, and my yoga, and basically, it just fuses everything together. So, women join the program, they commit to 30 days, 60 days, or 108 days alcohol free, and then a daily yoga practice during that time. And the idea is that yoga and meditation can become your new focus instead of drinking, and this program, there's a lot of reasons why yoga and meditation benefit people that are going through a sober journey. I'm gonna have a separate podcast episode later on about that, so make sure you subscribe to hear it. And then, I also started working one-on-one with individuals doing sober rebels coaching. So, I meet people one-on-one and I help devise a customized plan for them to take a break or quit alcohol, and re-establish their relationship with themselves and create a life where they don't need alcohol to escape from. So, my one-on-one coaching just kind of took off like that. As soon as I pivoted and changed my focus to something that fueled me and excited me like going alcohol free, it just kind of boomed from there, and at this point I'm fully booked for my life coaching. Please reach out if you are interested in one-on-one work with me, and I can put you on a waitlist coming up for march. So, I'm fully booked through January and February of one-on-one coaching, but I do have availability in March. So, yeah, this is kind of how my whole journey kind of came together to the point where I am now, which is the creator of the "Mindful Life Practice", the creator of "Sober Girls Yoga", and I am just so much happier and healthier being alcohol free. So, if you are someone who is considering going alcohol free, I would highly encourage it even if you're not giving it up forever, just taking a little break. It is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and learn more about, you know, how to fuel your happiness, and how to fuel your life, and how to find joy in your everyday life. I am here, you can connect with me on Instagram. It's Alex McRobs, the Mindful Life Practice Instagram is the MLPC. We have a Sober Girls Yoga Instagram account as well. I have a Facebook group for Sober Girls Yoga, that is welcome for anyone to join. I have a WhatsApp group that is private, only for members who have paid and subscribed to the membership program. And, where else can you connect with me? The mindfullifepractice.com is where you can find out everything about the wide variety of programs I offer. So, stay tuned, there's gonna be a new episode dropping every single Friday, so make sure you subscribe, like and share. If you like this podcast, if you like it, if you share it, that will help it reach more people who could benefit from it. And coming up on future episodes, we are going to dive into topics around dealing with family and friends when you go alcohol free, strategies when you go alcohol-free, coping mechanisms when you go alcohol-free, yoga philosophy. I'll have some special guests sprinkled in here and there. So, if you have any specific questions for me, anything that you want addressed on this podcast, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would be more than happy to include it in my future work. So, thank you so much for tuning in. And I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day, and I hope to see you for the next episode. Bye.
Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Sober Yoga Girl with Alex McRobs. I am so, so grateful for every one of you. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next one and leave a review before you go. See you soon. Bye.