Q&A: Fort Collins yoga instructor creates class for recovering addicts

Fort Collins yoga instructor Cat Lauer teaches the art of recovery. After yoga helped her recover from an eating disorder, she was inspired to create something to help others use yoga to make positive changes in their lives as well. What she created is a four-week yoga session for people recovering from addiction, trauma or mental illness called Yoga for Recovery.

Mattox: What does Yoga for Recovery class look like?

Lauer: This class would look to a fly on the wall like a regular yoga class. We don’t do any discussion. A lot of folks, I don’t even know what they are in recovery for unless they share it with me or they have a referral that is very specific. But the idea is that it is creating a safe space for people to make connections with other people in recovery and to be comfortable with their yoga practice.

Cat Lauer teaches a yoga class at Old Town Yoga in Fort Collins. (Photo courtesy of Cat Lauer)

Mattox: What is the atmosphere like?

Lauer: It is a space where people can come in and cry, or be angry or laugh. You can come into this class and sit down the whole time, and that’s cool. Or you can come in ten minutes late because you were so stressed about coming. All I ask is people show up and give it a try. It’s a very open environment. Just bring it. Come and show up as you are. No worries. It’s a very, very simple thing, which I think can have a big impact.

Mattox: How does the class work?

Lauer: It’s a four-week class, and we meet for an hour each time. The first week is practice. It’s just teaching simple things you can do at home. The next week is the body class, which is a little bit more movement and just really feeling our body. And then we do a restorative, which is really mellow, and slow and restful. And the last one is a connections class. We interact with each other a little bit more because in any recovery, that’s the thing. Making connections is the foundation.

Mattox: What inspired you to start the recovery class?

Lauer: I had an eating disorder. There were a hundred things I could have done recovery without, but yoga was my glue. It was there on a good day. It was there on a bad day. More than anything, it created those connections. It was where I was able to go to studio classes again. It was where I developed friendships. I wanted to go through it and then come full circle and help others too. And that really helped me be motivated and hold me accountable. So it came directly from that.

Cat Lauer practices the Warrior One Pose. (Photo courtesy of Cat Lauer)

Mattox: How does yoga help people in recovery?

Lauer: I think primarily it’s really just coming into your breath and coming into your body. So much of what leads us into the issues that we are then in recovery from stem from some sort of discomfort or disease. I think by practicing that we get motivation to practice recovery because we get these little glimpses into being calm and comfortable.

Mattox: How much do the four sessions cost?

Lauer: It’s free. I really want it to be something that anyone in recovery can do. Recovery is hugely expensive. All the time in different doctor’s offices. In therapy. In different groups. All the loss of time at work. Loss of work. So if someone is going to spend 15 dollars, I want them to spend it on themselves. Even for someone who could afford it, just take this for you.

Mattox: Where are the classes held?

Lauer: We have done every session in a different area. I always try to pick spots that people can easily walk to or that the bus is close by. I like that because it introduces people to different areas, and it kind of gives us our own space. It’s very contained. It becomes this really tight community because it’s just us. And by going to different areas each time, I hope that people can leave and say, “Okay, I get it now. I’m confident enough to go to a studio.”

Mattox: How do people sign up?

Lauer: It’s all through my website. There are a couple questions that I like to know about people. I like to know that they are referred from someone, and I like to have some way to contact them because I like to reach out and create a way for them to tell me something that’s not in person. Sometimes people just want to share something with me beforehand that they want to be private. So I want to make sure that they can text me, or email me or call me. I just like making sure that there’s a conversation there, and that’s mostly why I like to do the registration.

Mattox: What would you tell someone that is considering trying Yoga for Recovery?

Lauer: Come on it, and learn little yoga. See if it works for you. You don’t have to come and feel like you need to talk or share. It’s just a safe place.

Go to catleaslauer.com to register in the spring session of Yoga for Recovery.