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Yoga is so much more than a workout to her.  

“Yoga has really allowed me to go inward, and explore what I enjoy doing and my emotions and its been amazing,” said Anne Crossan. 

For Crossan, yoga helps her stay away from alcohol. 

“Yoga has given me a way to find out who I really am, I had no idea who I was when I got sober,” she said. 

Crossan says her addiction controlled her life… 

“I alienated all my friends and family and drank from morning until I passed out, so that was my life for the past 6 years,” said Crossan. 

But she finally got help when her body just couldn’t take it anymore. 

“It took its toll on my soul and my spirit, it was already dead and towards the end, for the last couple of years really, I felt my body failing,” she said. “Doctors had been warning me for years and I ignored them and so finally I pulled the trigger and went to treatment in June of 2020 and it saved my life.” 

To occupy her time without drinking, Crossan starting doing yoga and eventually found Unity Yoga

“What would it be if we kind of took these two concepts of a yoga studio and a recovery community center and sort of put them together—and how would that work,” said co-founder of Unity Yoga, Arielle Ashford. 

The organization is able to offer free yoga classes through a grant to folks in recovery and all the sessions, which happen several times a week, focus on ways to use yoga to stay grounded when things get rough. 

“If I know that I can breathe in a downward facing dog for a few breaths, like maybe I can ride out this uncomfortable situation that I’m currently in,” said Ashford. 

Ashford understands this well because she’s using yoga and meditation to help with her own recovery. She’s 13 years sober and has created this vast community of folks at their studios in both Manayunk and Chestnut Hill who lean on each other daily. 

“I do know that people are experiencing something here which is why they keep coming back,” said Ashford. 

And Crossan will be coming for a very long time, she’s training to become a yoga teacher. 

“This community literally has saved my life and it sustains my sobriety,” said Crossan. “So anything that I can do to give back means the world to me.”