Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 42

FEATURE: YOGA AND ADDICTION RECOVERY Rolf Gates’ Extra-Ordinary Journey Champion wrestler and Army Ranger aren’t typical entries on the biography for a yoga teacher who’s written two best-selling books on meditation and founded a groundbreaking conference on yoga and addiction recovery. But Rolf Gates isn’t the typical yoga teacher. He’s clean-cut, with a shaved head and big muscles--no man bun or mandala tattoos for this yogi. Put him in a suit and tie, and he’d fit right in at the Republican National Convention. Gates may look conservative, but his background is eclectic. He’s a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for more than 25 years. He participated in endurance sports prior to discovering yoga, and he’s been meditating for much longer than meditation has been popular. He spent time in the field of social work, and service remains a priority in his life. That’s no surprise, because Gates comes from a long line of ministers, and he’s even been known to officiate a wedding. He also works with the US military and Department of Defense to provide sustainable care for soldiers. How did Gates get from alcoholism to a place of service and leadership? A rehabilitation center and a vigorous application of the 12-step program helped him get a foothold in the world after alcohol stopped being a solution and he hit bottom. “I benefitted tremendously from getting professional help at first. I attended a six-week rehab then aftercare. From that foundation I was able to create a sober life for myself using daily attendance at 12 step meetings and eventually the daily practice of Yoga and meditation. I kept my recovery fresh by staying in a career path that is about getting and living well.” Recovering from alcoholism to become a celebrated author and leader of yoga teacher trainings and immersions is hardly a typical story, but Gates remains humble about his journey. “I have had a very ordinary story. First trauma, then 40 addiction, then treatment, then sobriety within the context of a 12-step community, then Yoga…My story is ordinary in the sense that I received help from a 12-step program and was able to stay sober and within that program I was inspired to pursue a path of service and I have. There are countless individuals who have the same story, and are public school teachers, firemen, doctors and parents. I happen to be in a job description that attracts more attention than a public school teacher. My work is no less or more important, hence the phrase an ordinary journey.” Gates didn’t offer any details about his downward spiral before sobriety. Recovery is his focus, and it remains vital to his life. “My recovery is still as im- portant to me now, 25 years later, as it was in rehab, and yoga has been an indispensable support in that recovery… My quality of li