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Yoga and Recovery: A Practitioner’s Perspective

Project Yoga Richmond offers Y12SR, classes that combine yoga with 12-step recovery programs, as well as the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology.

 

I have worked in the field of addiction medicine for a long time. Over the years, as I have grown in my knowledge of this field, I have also grown in my knowledge of yoga.

Depending on where my patients—who mostly find our clinic to detox off opioids, heroin, methadone, or alcohol—are in their stage of change, I offer yoga as an integral tool.

I have to be a little savvy about bringing up yoga. While it has clearly infiltrated western culture, many of the people with whom I work have ideas about yoga and do not see themselves wearing spandex and inhabiting a rubber mat for an hour.

But, I offer a nibble.

I introduce, for instance, the idea of becoming a witness to one’s experience or taking the risk of staying present for momentary discomfort. Or noticing the relentless and repetitive messages that appear on the movie screen of the mind, noticing the habitual reactions that accompany these messages, and the fierce impulse to escape the pain.

This is indeed the practice of yoga. As the 2nd Sutra of Patanjali states, “Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.” Or, in Sanskrit, “Yogas citta vrtti nirodha.”

Addiction has a lot to do with avoiding discomfort. Guiding a person to be at home with their own thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings is an imperative step for any successful recovery. A regular practice of yoga postures helps people bring presence to TEAMS (thoughts, emotions, associations, memories, and sensations) while staying rooted in the reality of intentional movements.

Project Yoga Richmond offers Y12SR, classes that combine yoga with 12-step recovery programs, as well as the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology. This program serves people recovering from all manifestations of addiction, from behavioral addictions to substance abuse, and creates a safe place on the mat. Family members of people with addictions are also welcome. Teachers of this program receive certification to teach after completing proper training.

This aspect of programming for people with behavioral and substance use disorders is how I first became aware of PYR’s presence in Richmond. I have recommended it to my patients for years.

If you or a loved one is looking for another tool for your recovery toolbox, I heartily endorse the powerful programming offered at Project Yoga Richmond. The staff or any of the Board Members would be more than happy to answer your questions. Spandex not required.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP
PYR Board of Directors

How Can Yoga Support Recovery?

What is Y12SR?

Y12SR (Yoga of 12-Step Recovery) “connects the dots” between the ancient wisdom of yoga, the practical tools of 12-step programs, and the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology. As part of a holistic recovery program, it works in tandem with traditional treatment to address the physical, mental and spiritual disease of addiction.

The program serves people recovering from all manifestations of addiction, from behavioral addictions to substance abuse – creating a safe place on the mat where trauma can be released. It also supports those who are impacted by a loved one’s addiction. Weekly meetings led by certified Y12SR leaders are available in community settings across the United States. Y12SR is also offered as an adjunctive therapy in a growing number of addiction recovery treatment centers.

“The 12 Step program and Yoga connect us with ourselves, with others, with Spirit. The practices and principles of these two united paths return us to wholeness- and create community, purpose, joy, and freedom. This is the treasure offered to us in Y12SR.”

– PYR Cofounder and Y12SR Leadership Trainer, Dana Walters

3 Elements to Y12SR Classes:
  1. Open to anyone dealing with their own maladaptive behavior or affected by the maladaptive behavior of others.  This is an open and inclusive group.  “All A’s are welcome.”
  2. The 12-step based discussion/group sharing circle is followed by an intentional, themed meditations and/or breathwork and yoga practice.
  3. The asana practice offered is “yoga neutral”; these classes are always accessible for every body.  
PYR’s Y12SR Offerings:
  • Every Tuesday at 5:30pm at Project Yoga Richmond Studio
    • Open to the community, drop-in, and pay-what-you-can
  • Fridays at Chesterfield County Jail
    • Offered to residents enrolled in the Bridge program
    • The Bridge program operates as a collaboration of services between the Sheriff’s Office and Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services.  Bridge is a program for court-involved individuals in recovery; the program is strictly voluntary and not court-ordered.
    • The purpose of Bridge is to offer its participants a variety of dynamic programming to address and understand addiction and trauma and to facilitate sustainable, skill-based tools and techniques in breaking destructive habits and developing a sense of empowerment.

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