From competitive bodybuilding to yoga, one local mother always left her heart on the mat. But now she’s taking her skills one step further to help those struggling to recover.
“Just find the rhythm of your breath," said Colleen Lagasse, an instructor at In Bloom Yoga. "So, envision that your breath is something that is the fuel."
Lagasse said with every exhale, inhale, or change in posture, comes a new lesson.
"The child’s pose," said Lagasse. "That’s a really important one. We are always teaching our students to honor their body."
For the past five years, Lagasse has been transforming lives at the studio in New Hartford, helping her students find balance and strength or saving them from their addiction.
Lagasse became a certified "Yoga for 12 Step Recovery" instructor.
"It’s for anyone struggling with an addiction of any type," said Lagasse. "We come together, and we sit in circle, and we share just like you would at a traditional 12-step meeting, and then that is followed by a yoga practice."
It's a circle Lagasse can easily connect with, since she’s been helping her 26-year-old daughter overcome opioids for the past six years.
"There’s nothing you can do until that person who is struggling is ready to help themselves," said Lagasse. "I knew at that point in time my daughter wasn’t ready. I felt like if I went and I educated myself and I got these tools, that maybe I couldn’t help her, but I could help someone else, improve their life, someone who was ready."
Lagasse has supported dozens on their road to recovery, and said it’s needed now more than ever as overdose deaths rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. She encourages those still struggling, to stay strong.
"Never give up hope," said Lagasse. "It’s not going to be easy, but nothing in life that’s worth having is never easy."
She always leaves her students with the most important lesson - they have so much more to live for.
Lagasse is currently looking for a space in downtown Utica to hold more Yoga for 12 Step Recovery classes.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.