Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Pranayama and Asana For Shifted Control

Name: Michaela MacDonald

Pranayama and Asana For Shifted Control

in Malibu Scholarship


April 16, y

name is Michaela “Kala” MacDonald and I am currently enrolled to
begin a Master of Arts program this coming Fall 2020 with Loyola
Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. The program is Yoga Studies,
and I plan to pursue a certificate in Yoga Therapy alongside my
degree programming. Finding this program felt like the perfect step
in my ongoing pursuit of continued education and learning surrounding
yoga. I have already completed my 500 hours of yoga teacher training
through 2 immersive programs in Ubud, Bali Indonesia (2016, 2018) and
have been teaching since 2016.

losing both of my younger brothers suddenly and tragically, Jordan to
homicide in 2013 and Brenton to suicide in 2016, I began to form, and
ultimately brought to life, educational 501(c)3 nonprofit
organization Yoga to Cope, of which I am currently President. Our
mission is to provide free, online, yoga-based resources to people
coping through trauma, grief, depression, and the like, and we do
this via a weekly podcast, free guided meditations, a resources page,
blog, and more.

I became both a meditation and yoga teacher specifically focused on
Tantric Hatha Yoga, I found myself consistently referring to the idea
of control with my clients and small groups. When it comes to
addiction of any kind, I believe there is often a desire for said
control, and that can be found through addiction of many types;
alcohol and substance abuse to control how we feel and when,
addiction to food and eating – or lack thereof – to control what goes
in our bodies and/or how we are shaped, sexual addiction used to cope
with a past sexual trauma, and so on. I’ve seen many foundational
yogic practices, namely pranayama, used to successfully address and
begin treating addictive tendencies of all shapes and sizes for
people of all walks of life.

is defined in many ways across many historical yogic texts, but we
can summarize its definition in that it is control with retention of
the breath. For example, a simply and popular technique almost anyone
can practice is the 3-part breath; an equal inhale, hold, and exhale.
The idea behind pranayama, and much related to Tantric Hatha yoga as
I teach it, is that specific breath techniques and shapes we make
with our bodies allow energy to move in and through the body in very
specific ways. We so very often float through life without giving
much thought to controlling something like our breath or the shape of
our body, and yet when we learn how and why to do just that through
yoga, we are able to find and harness a sense of control like no

is, fo course, not to mention the myriad benefits of yoga at a
glance, having nothing to specifically do with addiction, which tend
to come along for the ride whether we mean for them to or not, which
can include regulated blood pressure and stress levels, more
cognitive mental function, and a sense of purpose. I find that after
working with clients, and I am specifically keeping those with
addiction or addictive tendencies in mind, they are able to take that
newfound control and run with it into the other healthy avenues a
foundational, purposeful, energetic yoga practice can provide. For
some this may mean seeking and allowing one’s self to feel
expansive and take up space when prior to their practices they used
food to keep themselves feeling physically and otherwise as small as
possible. One previously addicted to sex as a means of fulfillment
and feeling is able to use enlivening, introspective yoga practices
to self-fulfill, feel purpose driven for the first time years, and to
access sensation more powerful and useful than any one night stand.

to addiction, but also in many, many other ways, I find the rooted,
foundational yoga practices I learn and teach to be so important and
transformational. This is why I hope to never stop learning and
growing, not only in my practices on the mat, but in my work as a
mentor, as a nonprofit founder, a podcast host, and more. This work
doesn’t pay much (yet), and I still have student loan debt from my
undergraduate studies. As well, due to the recent global health
crisis that is COVID-19, I have lost many of my clients. This
scholarship would mean the world to being able to continue learning
so I may keep reaching and teaching those who need it most. Thank you
for your consideration.