Dubai: Once an unquenchable party animal who easily came under the influence, a Canadian expat from Dubai has shared her inspiring story of how she has not only transformed herself, but also others, by embracing sobriety.
Alexandra McRobert, 30, who is now making a global mark as the “Sober Yoga Girl”, told Gulf News how the turnaround came about after she hit rock bottom in 2019.
McRobert first arrived in Dubai when she was 25 to take up a job as a teacher in an international school. Life was good and like many youngsters her age, she loved to party, attend weekend brunches and other dos.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” clarified McRobert. “But the problem began when I started overindulging myself. I was totally overdoing it. There came a point when it started to affect my mental health as I found myself constantly feeling anxious and depressed. I was also spending a lot of money and my finances were going awry. I had a great job and should have been happy and comfortable, but that wasn’t the case.”
Fortunately for her, McRobert realised there was something amiss and this was not the way she wanted to live. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became about the need to change herself.
“That’s when I joined a 28-day abstinence challenge which over time transformed into a permanent lifestyle,” she said.
But it was far from easy. “Especially the first two weeks. My mind was playing havoc. But once I came clean through the second weekend, it became easier. I knew I wanted to be sober for the rest of my life.” Three-and-a-half years down the line, McRobert is proud of her decision to change and her determination and ability to make it happen.
According to her, abuse in general can take different forms and can vary from person to person. “It could pertain to anything - eating, smoking, drinking, substance abuse, or even social media addiction. The first step for anyone who has an issue is to recognise that there is a problem and genuinely feel the need to do something about it.”
The next step is to seek help to enable the change. She said her own success with the abstinence challenge was hard-earned, but by the end of it, she was encouraged to extend it to 30, 60 and 108 days, before it became a lifetime commitment. And the benefits she accrued from the sobriety she achieved were tremendous.
A 500-hour registered yoga teacher, certified life coach, entrepreneur and podcaster today, McRobert said, “From when I was a child, I was drawn to yoga. I always dreamt of having my own practice. But it was only after I became sober that I could do it. I set up my own freezone company - Mindful Life Practice - in Dubai in 2020. One of the core practices within this set up is Sober Girls Yoga which caters to women around the world who want to transform their lives.”
But why only women? McRobert said: “The reason why I am focusing on women is because most recovery spaces are dominated by men. Things are changing now, but I wanted to create a community where women would be comfortable talking about their problems openly and resolving them.”
With her own recovery, she said the effort to become sober was difficult because she was going it alone. “I found myself seeking a community and some kind of connection. So once I took control of my life, I felt empowered and wanted to pay it forward by building the community I missed.”
McRobert, who calls herself a digital nomad and shuttles between Dubai, Bali and other cities, said, “As an online community, Sober Girls Yoga helps women to change the trajectory of their lives by quitting unhealthy habits and replacing them with healthy choices. We offer a 30-day Sober Girls Yoga Challenge, besides yoga retreats and full-year recovery programmes to help sober, curious women ditch their bad habits for good. Our teachers and facilitators handle different groups every month, with participants joining in from different croners of the world, including the UK, North America, Mexico, Far East and the Middle East.”
How sobriety helps
She said like her, many of those who opt for sobriety achieve clarity and conviction, besides better mental and physical health.
Being sober increases one’s productivity manifold, she vouches.
According to her, many mistakenly believe that certain habits are cool and help in making more friends. But in reality, that’s not the case. Being sober helps tell the difference.
“Sobriety also improves your sleep and you don’t perpetually feel exhausted or stressed out. It teaches you how to manage uncomfortable emotions and find the right outlets to process them,” she added.