The "Why" In Rolf Gates' Yoga

I first experienced my “why” in rehab for alcohol addiction. At that time, I was on active duty in the military, and my rehab was staffed by active duty personnel. Each soldier had volunteered to deviate from their career path for three years to work at this rehab and assist other addicts in getting sober. They were ordinary people embodying the extraordinary through everyday acts of kindness. The healing community they created spoke to me on every level. It was a compelling idea: to heal one another through kindness. It was a deeply moving experience to be part of a group being brought back to life through kindness. 

I left that rehab with a spiritual practice described as “people helping people.” When I arrived at Kripalu five years later for my yoga teacher training, I found a way to integrate what I had learned into my relationship with my body, breath, and the present moment. I was grateful to my Kripalu teachers and to the donors who helped support their work. At Kripalu, I learned to infuse my values into how I stood, walked, and breathed. I discovered that the way I paid attention to life could be an art, an art capable of altering my perception. I have spent the last 27 years teaching others what my mentors here taught me. Today, my “why” combines the loving-kindness I first experienced in rehab with the wisdom in action that I learned in Kripalu Yoga. The way I live it is one day at a time, one moment at a time, one choice at a time, always learning.

Rolf Gates, author of Daily Reflections on Addiction, Yoga, and Getting Well; Meditations from the Mat; and Meditations on Intention and Being, is the Director of the Kripalu School of Yoga and a leading voice in contemporary yoga.

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