PORTLAND — One year after Angela Weymouth’s brother died from a heroin overdose in 2014, she started using yoga to help those suffering from addiction reach recovery.

“My brother’s death snapped me awake,” Weymouth said. “I had a revelation that I am in a position to make an impact, and I can use my brother’s influence on me to help others.”

Weymouth and her husband opened Maine Hatha Yoga on Dartmouth Street in August 2002. Nearly 17 years later, it still teaches the Bikram Yoga method with a particular focus on community service and helping people in active addiction recovery.

“One of the main benefits of this yoga is detoxification,” Weymouth said. “For people who have toxicity issues like addiction, this style of yoga helps their body heal.”

The Bikram Yoga method was introduced to the United States in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, the same teacher who trained Weymouth when she was 26 years old. The technique includes 26 postures and two breathing exercises, practiced in a 105-degree room with 40 percent humidity over the course of 90 minutes, all while facing a full-body mirror.

The postures are designed to purify the body, and the breathing exercises and humidity help strengthen and cleanse the lungs.

“Bikram Yoga saved my life,” said Kelly Benson, a recovered opioid addict who started practicing at Maine Hatha in 2012. “I had finally found something that supported me in my recovery.”

After living on the streets of Boston and entering rehab more than 15 times, Benson said she found that practicing Bikram Yoga helped her reconnect with her body in a way she never had before. After one year at Maine Hatha, Benson became certified to teach and helped Weymouth launch a scholarship program for people who are in active recovery.

“We decided to team up,” Weymouth said of the time in 2017 when she and Benson introduced Portland’s recovering addicts to Bikram Yoga. Every Sunday, Weymouth holds a fundraising class where the proceeds support the Maine Hatha Recovery Scholarship Program, a monthly unlimited yoga membership offered to people in early stages of addiction recovery.

As a way to establish Maine Hatha as a place where people in recovery can heal, Weymouth and Benson contacted the Portland Recovery Community Center and local sober houses to find people interested in using yoga as a way to reach sobriety.

To receive the scholarship, Weymouth requires the applicants to commit to four Maine Hatha classes a week for six months, provide a letter of proof from their sponsor that they are in active recovery, and give back to the studio by cleaning and visiting sober houses to recruit others to join the program.

After two years of directing the scholarship, Weymouth has helped 15 people reach full recovery.

“This scholarship gave me a new life,” said Fran Rodenburge, a recovering alcoholic. “I had much abuse inside my body and practicing Bikram Yoga took all the toxins out of me while giving me the calm feeling that I was searching for in alcohol.”

After Rodenburge completed Maine Hatha’s scholarship program in 2018, she enrolled in a yoga teacher training program and will receive her 200-hour yoga certification on May 27. She said she plans to offer free yoga classes at the PRCC as a way to give back to the recovery community.

“I really believe that this particular practice gives people powerful results,” Weymouth said. “And I am going to keep using it as a way to help those in need.”

Angela Weymouth opened Maine Hatha Yoga on Dartmouth Street in Portland in 2002. She teaches the Bikram Yoga method with a focus towards community service and helping people in active addiction recovery.

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