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Interview with Cindy Payne

By Yasir El Mahdi

Meet Cindy. One of the lucky Sober Girls Yoga members who joined the recent yoga retreat in Bali. Cindy first joined us last year in August when the Sober Girls Yoga Club was revived. She also joined the new 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training group and we're so excited to take this year long journey with her. She was kind enough to answer our interview questions during her time in Bali. We're so lucky to have her as part of our community. Enjoy...

Hi Cindy! Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who is Cindy?

Hi MLPC! I'm Cindy, a 44 year old mom to 3 boys (ages 17 and 15 year old twins), a wife, and a mental health counselor. I was born and raised in Texas, married my high school sweetheart, Eric in 2001, and we moved to Las Vegas, NV in 2003. After 8 years in the desert, we decided to return to our home state in 2011 to be closer to family. I started graduate school in 2014, worked in schools as a crisis counselor, and opened my private practice in 2020 right after the pandemic started.

How did you meet Alex?

I made the decision to quit drinking on April 4, 2022, and was really needing the support of a sober community. I also knew that I wanted to take a trip somewhere to practice yoga with a focus on sobriety. I literally googled: 'Sober Yoga Retreat', and the MLPC popped up. I messaged Alex and set up a virtual coffee. She invited me to the Sunday Sober Circle, and I booked the retreat shortly after that coffee. Now here I sit typing this in Bali while at the retreat!

What inspired you to start practicing yoga?

I began practicing yoga back in 2004 when I was going through infertility treatments. My acupuncturist recommended that I try yoga as a way to manage my stress and anxiety. I was instantly hooked. I loved the way it could calm my nervous system and help me channel my focus in a different direction. I was also intrigued by the mind-body connection, and began trying out different types of yoga to learn more.

Have you ever had any experience with yoga before joining the MLPC?

Yes! I currently practice at a studio close to where I live. I've been a runner since high school, and have found that yoga is a great addition to my exercise routine. I love how yoga gives me an opportunity to clear my head, stretch my body, and strengthen my core.

What’s your connection to the MLPC?

I've been attending the Sunday Speaker Series pretty regularly since August 2022, and now I'm getting ready to begin the 200 Hour YTT. I hope to be able to incorporate what I learn into my work with my clients. Also, the opportunity to be able to connect with Alex in Bali has been a life-changing experience for me. Spending 10 days in this amazing place with other like minded women has been inspiring, and has helped me to feel less alone in my sober journey.

How did you end up being so committed to yoga?

The older I get, the more I'm realizing that a regular practice of appreciating my health and what my body can do for me is so important. I also love that yoga allows me to practice surrendering over and over, which I haven't found in any other form of movement. The more I practice, the more I see how it grounds me, which in turn affects how I show up for myself and with others.

Did you face any challenges during the month of January?

Honestly, my biggest challenge in January was trying to tie up loose ends before heading to the Bali retreat. It was my first time to Asia, and I was nervous about going that far by myself. When I got to the retreat, I realized just how much I have been taking on with work and other commitments. The retreat gave me time to pause and reflect on how I want to restructure parts of my life, so that I can feel more balanced in my everyday life.

What are the biggest benefits you’ve reaped from your yoga practice?

From a physical aspect, yoga has helped me strengthen my core and increase my flexibility. However, I think the biggest benefit has been learning to reconnect with myself and regulate my nervous system. Getting sober has required me to relearn how to breathe through difficult emotions, and yoga has given me the tools to do just that. Yoga is about self-acceptance and meeting myself where I'm at. Sometimes this comes with ease, and other times it feels more difficult. I'm learning to show up on my mat and ask what it is that I am supposed to learn that day, which requires an open heart.

What’s your favorite posture?

Headstands are my absolute favorite. I actually used to be terrified of that pose, and then

I had a yoga teacher show me how to do it in a way that feels safe and supported. I love the

feeling of being upside down. The blood rushing to my brain is like a shot of espresso!

"The opportunity to be able to connect with Alex in Bali has been a life-changing experience for me. Spending 10 days in this amazing place with other like minded women has been inspiring, and has helped me to feel less alone in my sober journey."

What’s your most difficult posture?

Anything with binds. My shoulders tend to be tight, and my ability to bind can vary practice to practice. I try to remember to meet myself where I'm at with that pose. There is no final destination in yoga postures.

What is your favorite type(s) of yoga? And why?

Hatha yoga and Yin yoga are my current favorites. Hatha yoga gives me the opportunity to sweat daily, while Yin yoga allows me to slow down, relax, and turninward. We had the opportunity to practice Yin yoga in the evenings on the Bali retreat, and I loved ending my day with a place to reflect and move my mind and body into a restful state.

Any words of wisdom to those just starting out?

It's not a competition. Just keep showing up and practicing gratitude for what you learn about yourself each time you step on your mat. No two practices will be the same, and each practice allows you to get to know yourself more deeply if you allow it.

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