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Freedom from Addiction

by Kalia KelmensonMarch 08, 2016
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If you are sitting around a table in America, enjoying a conversation with 5 friends, chances are that 2 of you are either struggling with your own addiction, or dealing with the addiction of someone you are close to. Those odds need to be improved.

Addiction is essentially a disease of separation. Nikki Myers, who developed Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR) in 2004 contends “addictive behaviors separate and disconnect us from ourselves, from other people, from our environment, and from whatever it is that we call that bigger energy.” She asserts that many people who struggle with addiction do not have a hard time stopping, but rather, they have a hard time maintaining their sobriety. Exact statistics vary, but national relapse rates range from 50 - 90%. “Life happens” Myers says, “and it’s far too easy to go back to old behaviors.”

Born from her own personal experience with addiction, Myers has taken the cognitive based 12-Step program and combined it with the somatic based practice of yoga. She integrates the ancient principles, practices, and philosophies of yoga, which at its heart is a practice of union. She relies on the organizing principles of integration, balance and wholeness that the teachings of yoga focus on, creating a “relapse prevention program.”  “The combining of the two,” she believes, “creates a model that truly addresses addiction as the physical, mental, and spiritual disease that it is.”

Myers knows that a recovery program needs to be holistic to be effective, and is clear that the Y12SR program is designed to support recovery and prevent relapse, but is not meant to “replace any part of a holistic recovery program”. Some of its greatest strengths lie in helping participants become aware of the signs of relapse, whether they are in the body, thoughts, or actions. The mission of the foundation is to help people who want to stay sober see the signs of relapse before it happens, to recognize that they are going back down a path toward addiction, and to make a different choice.

The basic component of the program is the weekly meeting, open to addicts and also anyone who is affected by other’s addiction. These meetings involve both group sharing and a yoga practice, where the focus is the breath, and the work is towards releasing whatever is being held.

The foundation is also focused on offering leadership training, which gives the tools of Y12SR to teachers and others. They offer guidance on becoming a “space holder”, whose work it is to “create a safe, sacred, open, and inclusive space”. Their newest project is the Urban Outreach Program, where they are striving to bring the Y12SR program to underserved populations, where the risk of relapse is often highest.

Give Back Yoga Foundation offers a portal to those interested in supporting Y12SR, or for those looking for support for their addiction. By creating a community-based effort, there is hope that that the number of people affected by addiction at your table will go down.

Go to givebackyoga.org.


Kalia Kelmenson

Kalia Kelmenson founded Maui Mind and Body to support women's health. She is the creator of Core Strength Balance and Mind Body Booty Camp and is the editorial director at Spirituality & Health. Kalia explores the fascinating intersection of fitness and mind-body health. Find inspiration for your movement practice from research and stories that are emerging from this intriguing field.

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Discover your vision for a healthy body as you age, establish an exercise routine that finally works or you, and build the foundation or an active lifestyle. Try out her course - Core Strength Balance: A 7-Day Mind Body Challenge.


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