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The 12-Steps and Yoga


Yoga and the twelve steps have many similarities. Yoga supplies tools for mind, body, and spirit, just like the twelve steps do. Both programs draw on internal spiritual strength while building strength of the muscles- for yoga, the physical body and the brain, for the twelve steps, the physical brain. The overarching theme between yoga and the twelve steps is that

Both the twelve steps and the practice of yoga are relied upon forms of therapy provided to clients in treatment programs for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The twelve steps were created by the founding members of the worldwide group Alcoholics Anonymous. Designed as a spiritual program, the twelve steps are meant to be a guide for people to have a spiritual experience, which Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve step programs believe to be the foundation of creating recovery. Through the spiritual experience, an individual learns more about themselves and about the way that they relate to the world around them, as well as the people within that world. Spiritual principles like humility, honesty, surrender, and trust resonate throughout the twelve steps and guide someone toward living a life which goes beyond just themselves. The twelfth step suggests being of service to others by carrying the message of the spiritual program and living the principles as much as possible in all areas of life.

Yoga is not much different. Yoga is a selfish practice in the sense that it enhances personal wellbeing and health. The practice of yoga also has a ripple effect. Many of the themes and principles of yoga that one learns to apply to themselves they also learn to apply to others, which creates healthier relationships. Compassion, empathy, and non-judgment, for example, are essential for understanding that everyone experiences pain. Though there are no steps to gradually work through in yoga there are various asanas, or poses, as well as sequences, which take time and spiritual principle to get through. In yoga, there is an air of suggestion similar to that of the twelve steps: progress not perfection. Yoga teachers encourage their students not to push themselves or compete with others in the room. Instead, they focus on meeting themselves exactly where they are and allowing themselves to just be there, trusting that they will progress over time.

There is no jumping from step one to step twelve, for example, but working all the way through each step. Likewise, there is no immediately doing every yoga pose as intensely as possible, but growing into the poses over time. One of the ways this happens is through noticing discomfort without judgment and making adjustments. The twelve steps suggests regularly practicing an “inventory” to look for where wrongs need to be righted. Typically wrongs are noticeable through uncomfortable feelings of resentment and anger. Making the necessary adjustments, that tension and discomfort is released.

Yoga and 12 step philosophy are core components of a holistic program for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders. At Enlightened Solutions, we are creating comprehensive integrative programs for compassionate care to meet the holistic needs of each client’s mind, body, and spirit.

For information on our partial care programs, call us today at 833-801-5483.