Nosh Hedgeman: From Addiction to Asana


It was the year 2000. Nosh had just paroled after doing time for crack addiction and possession. Life up to that point, he says, had been mostly negative.

“As a juvenile I was arrested over 30 times, I’ve been to state prison about seven times. I would get out for a one month or sometimes even one week, sometimes a couple of days, and I would go right back because I could not stop smoking crack cocaine.”

Shortly after his parole, he was advised by an employer to do yoga twice a day. Yoga? Nosh thought the suggestion was crazy. I was one of the people that would laugh at people who did yoga, because I didn’t see how yoga would help me, he admits. I’m a big guy, I was lifting weights … you know.

Still, he needed a way out – and nothing else had worked. So he headed to the nearest studio and started practising Bikram Yoga – a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 40 C.

When I first started doing yoga I did not have any physical problems, but the problems I did have were affecting my life in negative ways, Nosh remembers. I was one of those people who enjoyed exercising and sweating, but this was different then anything I had ever experienced. During class and after class I would feel like crying and not know why.

Several years later, he realized what was happening during his first days in the hot room. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning how to have a relationship with myself, he says. It felt good, and it hurt, but I was changing.

Soon, Nosh was off to Bikram Teacher Training, where he advanced his practice and continued to transform his life, asana by asana. Fast-forward 12 years, and the former addict says he’s still here, doing yoga, teaching yoga, practising yoga.

It’s a trip how it all falls into place, he says, shaking his head.

Nosh now wants to bring Bikram Yoga to people who are experiencing a life of crime and addiction. His vision is to open his own studio and work with parole agents and probation officers to create a place for people who get out of prison to go to.

“These people spend years in prison exercising, getting big, running, doing 500 pushups – they’re the healthiest people in the world you want to meet, and they come back to the streets and right away they pick up where they left off … doing drugs and drinking and hurting themselves and shooting dope. They’re right back to [being a] no-good person in life. But through the power of yoga, especially Bikram Yoga, I believe a person can change everything about themselves.”

Nosh knows he can’t help every addict and criminal currently in the system, but that won’t stop him from trying.

If they can just put down a crack pipe, put down a needle, they can put down a bottle, they can go to prison and exercise, four, five years straight, why can’t they come and do yoga two or three times day for the next two or three months when they parole? he asks. I know some people may not make it, but the ones I can help, those people go and help 10 more people, and it will spread like a wildfire, the way Bikram Yoga has spread through people’s lives.

In the meantime, Nosh remains firmly committed to the practice that he credits with saving his life – though his reasons, like his body and mind, have changed.

 Photo: Bikram Yoga Petaluma [Source]

When I first got to yoga it was because I was learning how to have a relationship with myself,he says. Now I do yoga because it makes me feel good, I do yoga because I’m guaranteed a life full of different pleasures. There’s some disappointment, but that’s natural. That’s a part of being human.

His advice to anyone looking to turn his or her life around – or simply wanting to lose weight, gain flexibility or decrease stress: start practising and keep practising.

Bikram Yoga has given me a new life that no other yoga has done for me, that no one else has done for me. People have tried but nothing has succeeded thus far but Bikram Yoga, says Nosh. I’m not saying this because Bikram is my good friend, I’m not making any money from saying this, but I am a completely different person. Not perfect, either, but I’m happy.

When life does throw curve balls, Nosh has a new way to cope – other than drugs.

You never know what the weather will be like, he says. Most of the time it’s pink clouds and sun with a little breeze. [But] when hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes hit, I am stable and confident. I now have the ability to make decisions that guide me correctly rather than make decisions that hurt my family, my friends and me. Because of Bikram Yoga I have a pretty good life.

Looking for a little more inspiration? Check out this video interview of Nosh

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