“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
We have all been touched by addiction in one way or another, but what can we do about it? This is something I’d been wondering for a while.
Then in October I went to Bali for a 300-hour meditation training and met Nico. She was energetic and feisty, and at the same time soulful and compassionate. Her full name is Nicoletta Longo, and she is the founder of a Boston-based nonprofit called NamaStay Sober. The charity provides health club and yoga studio memberships for folks in early addiction who otherwise wouldn’t have access.
Nico founded NamaStay Sober in late 2015 after losing her dear friend Brandon Shelzi to addiction. She wanted Brandon’s legacy to live on, providing community for people in early stages of recovery to connect and support one another through exercise and other mindful, wellness-minded practices.
As the director of the yoga program at the Vail Athletic Club, this sounded like the perfect way to use our facility and community to support local folks. The VAC was in, Nico was game to expand and now we are offering memberships in Vail!
Morgan Chase, NamaStay Sober’s first member and now the director of memberships, says, “In my early sobriety, yoga reconnected mind, body and spirit — all three are so greatly affected by the disease of addiction. You lose yourself in your thoughts that are negative and pessimistic, and your body deteriorates because you’re literally ingesting poison depending on your addiction. I came back through staying sober and staying committed to yoga.”
The commitment to something positive is foundational — NamaStay Sober’s members are required to go to the gym three to four times a week. At the VAC, they can work out, go to yoga, attend a meditation class, play on the climbing wall or just chill in the hot tub. And they have the support of not only each other, but also a designated ‘host’ at the gym (in our case fitness director Blake Gould).
Nico says, “Our biggest thing when we’re seeking out new partnerships is community. We want people to come in and feel like they’re home. They have their people there and their trainers there, and they walk in and feel inspired.”
We want people to come in and feel like they’re home.
Namastay Sober also offers free monthly community events with interactive discussions about the yamas and niyamas, the first two limbs of yoga which explain how to create an empowering attitude and perspective towards life. For those of us in Colorado, these conversations will become available online in March.
If you are interested in applying for a NamaStay Sober scholarship at the Vail Athletic Club, please go to www.namastaysober.com/apply. Memberships are available for folks between three months and three years of sobriety. If you’d like to support others, you can contribute by visiting www.namastaysober.com/donate.
Photos courtesy of NamaStay Sober.
Karen Anderson has been living in Vail for 25 years and teaching yoga for 20. She accidentally found herself in a month-long silent meditation retreat in India 12 years ago, and fell in love with the practice. She has since completed eleven silent month-long retreats. Karen is the yoga director at the Vail Athletic Club, and offers by-donation online meditation courses at www.yogavail.com