Everyone is recovering from something.

This phrase was spoken by Heidi Sormaz, the owner of Fresh Yoga in New Haven, Connecticut. As a member of Al-Anon, a worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for families and friends of alcoholics, she has been through her own journey of recovery. 

During it, Sormaz was specifically impacted by the 12-Step program. And when she met Nikki Myers at a meditation and yoga recovery conference, she found a way to bring the program and yoga together, as Myers had founded a program called Yoga of 12-Step Recovery back in 2004. 

“I heard about it from her and really loved the format of the conference, so it was something I wanted to bring to the studio,” said Sormaz. “It is about bringing together the thought processes and the connection of being able to share your truth with the group verbally.”

Introducing the 12-Step Recovery Program

So, she started offering a Yoga of 12-Step Recovery class at Fresh Yoga. “It’s a combination of yoga class and 12-Step meeting,” she explained. “It’s about 45 minutes yoga class, 45 minutes open 12-Step meeting.”

The class is held on Saturdays, the studio’s “no minimum donation” day, in hopes all who want to come can. It’s also open to any and all issues someone might be recovering from. 

When it comes to the teacher of the class, Sormaz prefers having someone who is well-versed in not only yoga, but also in the 12-Step program. Plus, she recommends the instructor be ingrained in your studio and its community, as community alongside tools and connection to something bigger are foundational to recovery. 

“When I suggest the person already be a staff member, or if you’re bringing them on, consider bringing them on as more than just a teacher for that class,” said Sormaz. “They can connect with the community at the studio; they can be there two or three other times during the week; they have knowledge of the rest of the people in the studio.”

She explained when someone is in recovery, it is a crucial time. So, the teacher leading the class needs to be the best support they can be. Currently, the person teaching the class at Fresh Yoga fulfills the above, and Sormaz loves the instructor’s knowledge of both worlds.

Make Sure to Evaluate the Class

Once the class is up and running, Sormaz said the best thing to do is to take it yourself. Ask how does it feel? Does it make sense? Could you walk in as a new person not understanding 12-Step or what the class is for? What’s your experience? Would you walk out knowing what it is and wanting to come back? Did they give you other resources to use — as in, other 12-Step meetings to attend?

From there, you can evaluate your offering and ask how to make it more impactful. Because ultimately, that’s what the Yoga of 12-Step Recovery class is about at Fresh Yoga: impact and helping people address issues through physical movement.

“I think there are such benefits and fabulous things about each part of [the Yoga of 12-Step Recovery],” said Sormaz. “There are many alternatives to the 12-Step program out there today, and that is awesome. That is so great people have all of these different roads. I also think there is a huge amount of value in the traditional 12-Step system.”