The Tara Treatment Center Blog

An Ancient Practice, Repurposed for Recovery

Yoga of 12 step Recovery (Y12SR)

It has been said that addiction is a ‘spiritual malady’.  If that’s the case, can spiritual practices like yoga complement recovery?

Warrior Pose Yoga Recovery

Warrior Pose

Addiction is an ancient problem.  Seeds of cultivated grapevines for wine have been carbon dated to be at least 7,000 years old.  Interestingly, spiritual practices like yoga are just as ancient. 

Recent MRI research shows that yoga and meditation can change our brains dramatically and prime our minds for recovery.  More gray matter—brain cells—have been discovered in certain brain areas of people who regularly practiced  yoga, as compared with control subjects.  

What does this mean for recovery?

The earliest account of yoga can be found in the Hindu Kathaka Upanisad, which shows that yoga is nearly as old as addiction itself.  Since yoga’s original purpose was as a warm-up for meditation, it makes sense that yoga should be incorporated into an addiction recovery program.

12 Step Yoga

Tara is pleased to have Becky Mann facilitating a new form of yoga therapy. Becky was kind enough to lend her expertise and personal story for this Q and A. She explains, “Combining yoga with a 12 step structured discussion group gives the client a chance to explore breathwork, while easy poses help reconnect to emotions within the body. There are issues in our tissues! I’m excited to lead Tara’s clients in Yoga12step!”


Becky Mann, Y12SR Yoga Facilitator

‘As a professional in the field, how would you advise people who’d like to try yoga but are afraid to step out of their comfort zone?’


Answer:  “When I went through teacher training I had so many “you can’t do this” thoughts….. you are too old (I’m 63 yrs old), you have an arm injury ( I almost lost my right arm in an auto accident 15 yrs ago), you live down in Morgan county ( the training was up in the “big city” on Tuesday nights), you have a hearing deficit in one ear (how will I hear the teacher with a room full of other students). We all have the “I can’t do that!” but I stepped outside of my comfort zone and learned not to feed my fears.”


Q: ‘How does Y12SR yoga benefit those in their early days of recovery?’


Answer:  “The teacher training and yoga12step gave me the foundation and courage to stay sober and lead a truly purposeful life. For students and/or clients it’s all about finding the teacher or class for their own personal level. I teach kids as young as 6 yrs old all the way to a group in their 80s and 90s . My classes have always focused on stability, breath work, balance and proper alignment. Yoga is for every BODY. With the use of props… chairs, blocks and straps it is accessible to anyone. Most new students assume that we will do difficult, advanced poses (asanas) because of the pics online or the photos in magazines. Yoga is about meeting yourself all over again. Every movement has a breath attached to it. 

I have been an avid cyclist and distance runner for over 30 years but now yoga gives me the most pleasure. It has taught me to pay attention to detail. Being still and giving the body a chance to feel again is one benefit for someone new to recovery. The body holds memory and will hold on to emotions, memories, words spoken decades ago until it is allowed to be in a safe space connected to breathe and gentle movement to finally soften and release. We in recovery used our drug of choice to mask painful emotions and memories. In early recovery we begin to feel again. Yoga gives us a safe space to explore and feel.”

Q:  ‘Who has inspired you to pursue 12-step yoga?’


Answer: “I connected with Nikki Myers immediately. I had the misconception that yoga was only for the young, thin, bendy people. Not so! She is also a recovering addict and gladly shares her journey. We are both mothers and grandmothers who have daughters who have struggled with different addictions. She is the real deal as was my other teacher Marsha Pappas. Our training was more like therapy sessions… and I have since held yearly yoga retreats to gather my Indy friends together from this training as we have become lifelong friends. 

Nikki planted the seeds and continues to spread the bounty. She holds an MBA and her Yoga12StepRecovery is growing and flourishing in the United States and across the globe. I was so grateful to have her as my teacher and proud of myself for taking that first step towards my yoga training and of course my first step many years ago towards sobriety.”


Congratulations to Becky Mann on her continued success.  Becky is one of several specialists providing experiential therapy at Tara Treatment Center.

Learn more about Y12SR by checking out the podcast below