Why Yoga has a key part in the recovery process
“Yoga is for everyone and at any time”
Jacqui Sinclair, yoga teacher, explains Y12SR, a system that combines yogic
and Twelve Step principles.
One of the main tenets of yoga is the recognition that we start from where we are, in the present moment, and ‘practice’ from wherever that is on the spectrum of our experience. This inclusive philosophy prevents procrastination or excuses whilst we wait for optimum conditions based on pre-conceived ideas of readiness. Yoga is for everyone and at any time.
After attending a charity fund raising event for a Focus 12, treatment centre local to me, I offered to run a weekly yoga class as a donation to the cause. Initially, attendance to the class was voluntary, but the affects were viewed positively enough for yoga to become integrated into the rehabilitation programme.
With an interest in trauma and PTSD, in July 2013, I travelled from the UK to Richmond, Virginia to study with Nikki Myers in order to learn more about yoga and recovery via the Y12SR format.
Addictive behaviours separate and disconnect us from ourselves and others
Y12SR is a framework for addiction recovery that combines the twelve-step programme, the trauma healing approach of Somatic Experiencing and the body-based ‘entry points’ of awareness offered by yoga and mindfulness practices. It explores the combination of cognitive and somatic approaches
in supporting changes in brain patterning (could do with some sources of research here). Y12SR seeks to combine cognitive work with physical yoga (asana) practice to consolidate and enhance the efficacy of each to support awareness, mindfulness and balance. Y12SR places a great emphasis on the need to look after the self in order to be able to serve others. Seva
(service) is a strong tenet within all yoga practice which mirrors Step 12 of the Twelve Steps.
Addictive behaviours separate and disconnect us from ourselves and others. Conversely, yoga means union, integration and balance, within ourselves and with everything around us. Yoga practice teaches the art of integrating our multi-dimensional lives within the complex ever changing world we live in. Rather than separating and sub-dividing further into the specifics of what people have been or their specific addiction, Y12SR seeks to reflect the concept of yoga union and integration into the collective itself. A yoga class
provides a non-judgemental and non-competitive environment.
The class structure of Y12SR is unique as it is part meeting and part yoga practice. Following brief shares during the opening session of each class, movement and breath awareness within a mindfulness structure is explored. Through the usual parabolic energy of a flow-based class, students gain a greater understanding of how the cognitive process has a direct connection to the physical body in a stress response.
Yoga emphasises the importance of acceptance with a starting point of ‘where we are’ and working from there on.
The yoga practice is a basic slow Vinyasa (means to place in a meaningful way), with the sequencing of asanas (postures) designed to illicit responses that deepen awareness of key focal points and balance the central nervous system. This flow teaches the importance of constant vigilance with transitions; as the asanas are moved into the practice becomes a
moving meditation rather than a series of individual end points. Through the practice, the fluctuation and waves of experience in expansion and contraction, ebb and flow, inhale and exhale, intensity and release, left and right, strength and flexibility, dynamic and restorative, attraction and aversion, and the individual and a Higher Power are explored to find a perfect point of balance through an awareness of a perpetual present moment.
Yoga practice also serves to facilitate a greater understanding of gratitude, self-awareness, and stress and anxiety control
The physical benefits of yoga practice are wide ranging. Improvements in strength are well documented, as are increased flexibility. Yoga also improves cardio vascular fitness, and can elevate mood. Yoga practice
also serves to facilitate a greater understanding of gratitude, self-awareness, and stress and anxiety control. Yoga enhances relaxation which enables
students to rest and re-charge helping participants to maximise their gains from co-existing therapeutic interventions and meetings.
Poor sleep is common in early recovery and is a known risk factor to relapse. The accentuated depth of relaxation students experience in yoga practice improves sleep quality.
Poor sleep is common in early recovery and is a known risk factor to relapse. The accentuated depth of relaxation students experience in yoga practice improves sleep quality. Yoga emphasises the importance of acceptance with a starting point of ‘where we are’ and working from there on. Through yoga practice and breath awareness, the ability to control the stress response and inclination to react to feelings of discomfort is explored, felt and developed by combining inner and outer peace. Each practice provides a reminder to the student to let go of any expectation of the practice or of yourself, and instead, set the intention to engage with present moment fully in order to feel the ebb and flow of the sequence and of the breath. This increases an individual’s ability to hone control of the self through breath and the depth of awareness which allows the urge to seek control of anything else to fall away.
Your biography becomes your biology – and a body distorted by stress houses a mind whose perception becomes distorted by stress.
In this aspect, yoga is the felt experience of the serenity prayer in action. You cognitively understand It you somatically feel it, and through the breath and connection to a Higher Power, you experience that knowing. With enough repetition, it becomes easier to incorporate this into your daily lives and your interactions with everyone and everything around us. The influence of the stress response is part of Y12SR.
The effects on posture and longer term anatomical changes often lead to biochemical inefficiencies in the body, pain and discomfort. Much of the tension in the body is as a result of stress or allostatic load (alongside somatic storing of trauma). This can be released and reversed through greater awareness and understanding of the underlying links and with regular mindfulness practice. Your biography becomes your biology – and a body distorted by stress houses a mind whose perception becomes distorted by stress.
For more information about Y12SR, go to:
www.Y12SR.com. For Jacqui Sinclair’s work: