Nikki Myers, founder of Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR), found salvation years ago in a 12-step program, and ingraining that wisdom into the cells of her body through a daily yoga practice has allowed her to thrive in her own recovery. Myers formed Y12SR in 2003 as a grassroots "relapse prevention program" to help others in the recovery community.
"The theme of Y12SR is 'the issues live in our tissues,'" Myers says. Her program now includes weekly meetings in communities across the U.S.
Studies have shown that practicing yoga activates the relaxation response and can help relieve anxiety, PTSD, and depression. In addition, Myers believes that the therapeutic and calming effect of yoga can help support recovery and prevent relapse.
Myers says that for a person with the disease of addiction, after getting sober the hardest thing is continuing to stay off drugs and alcohol. She believes that the physical practice of yoga, combined with the cognitive benefits of a 12-step recovery program, can help people develop coping tools to shake off the stresses of daily life that may lead to relapse.
"If there's not some way to release what's held at the cellular level and what's in our tissues, then there's another part that's unaddressed, that's still there, that can crop up to easily have us go back -- and I have no desire to go back," says Myers.
On her website, Y12SR.com, Myers says, "Addicted behaviors separate and disconnect us from ourselves, people, our environment." Yoga, meaning union, is a way to heal this separation and bring a person back to the present moment and into the physical body, where he or she can breathe and focus on regaining control and composure.
Myers leads workshops and teacher trainings for Y12SR all over the world. The program helps people recognize and identify signs of relapse and become aware of the kind of imbalance that may lead to relapse before it happens.
Myers says that committing to just 20 minutes of yoga a day is enough to feel the beneficial mental, physical, and spiritual effects of the practice. If you'd like to give it a try, the Y12SR website can help you find a meeting near you.
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