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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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Recovering Addict Turned Yogi Keeps It Real In River Vale

Cheryl Feinberg of River Vale balances at the Weehawken Waterfront. Photo Credit: Cheryl Feinberg
"100 million people could tell you that you're beautiful, but it won't matter one bit until you start to believe it yourself. Getting compliments from others is easy, giving them to yourself is where the work begins." Cheryl Feinberg Photo Credit: Cheryl Feinberg
The lawyer and recovering addict advocates for eating disorders and addiction through her writing. She poses here at the Ramapo Reservation. Photo Credit: Cheryl Feinberg
Feinberg handstands in Wooddale Park in Woodcliff Lake. Photo Credit: Cheryl Feinberg
Backbends in Beverly Hills. Photo Credit: @activefocus

RIVER VALE, N.J. — Last week, River Vale's Cheryl Feinberg removed the word "lawyer" from her description on Instagram.

It was a title she developed an attachment to after years of working toward earning it.

It's not the only identifier she's let go of: drug addict. Anorexic. Exercise bulimic.

Feinberg realized that none of those titles were serving her any good, and neither was living in the past.

Instead, she's living in the moment with yoga.

"I spent 11 years hiding what was going on inside myself because I was too embarrassed or afraid of people knowing," said the South Jersey native, 31. 

"My biggest healer has been sharing my story with others so they can connect to it."

That's 90,600 people, to be exact, who follow Feinberg on Instagram, where she shares her story in the captions of the pictures she takes of herself doing yoga around Northern New Jersey.

Feinberg also writes for other publications including a blog of her own. She says it's cathartic to share her past, though she no longer lets it define her.

The lifelong dancer found yoga in 2012 while studying for her second bar exam. She was looking for a good workout and stress reliever when she saw some interesting poses while browsing the Internet.

Feinberg began copying them and one day, posted a photograph of a new pose she was learning on Instagram. It all sort of took off from there.

"I started participating in fitness-related challenges online and looking at social media as a different way to expand my community," she said, "as opposed to random strangers online."

In 2015, Feinberg was laid off from her first job as a lawyer in Los Angeles after only four months. She figured that would be the perfect time to lean into yoga.

She moved back to New Jersey to be closer to her then-long-distance boyfriend. Feinberg began posting more photos of herself practicing yoga on her Instagram account, and teaching online classes via Skype.

She didn't miss being cooped up in an office one bit.

Sharing her personal story under her photos and on her blog has helped her grow her following, too.

"I advocate for eating disorder awareness and addiction," said Feinberg, who was diagnosed with anorexia and exercise bulimia in high school.

"When it came to the point of hospitalization, I went to boarding school instead of rehab."

She managed to recover "enough," but fell back when she entered college at Emory University.

"I got into drugs because they made me skinny," Feinberg said. "I was drinking and doing drugs for the first two years of college."

Feinberg suffered a breakdown just after her sophomore year, but used it as an opportunity to come up with a better plan.

She began attending narcotics anonymous three times a week, and her parents (who at that point were living in Kentucky) had her randomly drug tested for two years.

"I wrote about that story, which is the only reason why I got into law school," Feinberg said. "My grades were so bad."

That's when she began working on herself, she said, and made her health a priority, and has been clean for 10 years.

"I'm a prideful person in that I know I have everything I need to get over anything inside of me," she said.


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