Suzula Bidon: 12-Step-Style Yoga for Addiction and Depression

Orange is the New Black, indeed: in a new installment for The Huffington Post Blog, Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Suzula Bidon, an Ivy League grad and third-year law student who served 30 months in prison for a conspiracy drug charge. An addict in recovery and a certified yoga teacher, Suzula offers twice-weekly yoga classes that embody the spiritual principles of 12-Step Recovery.

“I know what the hell of addiction feels like. I know the debilitating shame and hopelessness of disconnection. I know how overwhelming and impossible the prospect of recovery — hell, even just getting out of bed and facing the day without a chemical crutch — can be in active addiction. Fortunately, I have experienced the miracle of recovery….I now live a full, rich life that continues to fulfill and surpass my biggest hopes and dreams for myself. If it weren’t for the service and community of others in recovery, I wouldn’t have the life I have today.”

– Suzula Bidon, a certified yoga teacher who works with those recovering from addiction

Read more about Suzula’s story and the standout moments that inspire her yoga service in her full interview on The Huffington Post Blog.


Would you like to support addiction recovery through yoga and community?  Join Y12SR founder Nikki Myers in Boulder on Friday, March 21st for a weekend workshop on The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery.


Rob Schware: The State of Yoga Service

As Executive Director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation and President of the Yoga Service Council, Rob Schware is proud to be part of a growing movement of yoga service providers who are helping to address societal problems such as school dropout rates, substance abuse, PTSD and high rates of re-imprisonment through therapeutic yoga outreach. Today, yoga service providers are reaching an estimated  200,000 individuals each year – including abused women, veterans, at-risk youth, cancer patients, prisoners and the homeless.

In “The State of Yoga Service,” Rob weighs in on:

  • the science behind yoga’s ability to change neurobiology
  • why the true experience of yoga inspires service
  • the progress of yoga service to date
  • how yoga outreach can benefit society
  • two important conversations that will take place in 2014
  • the impact of donations to Give Back Yoga
  • how to be inspired by stories of service, and how to contribute your own talents


If you believe in the power of yoga to plant the seeds of grassroots social change and healing, you won’t want to miss this special report on the state of yoga service in 2014.


Download “The State of Yoga Service.”


Join us in giving back from your mat! By donating the equivalent cost of one yoga class – just $15 per month – you can bring yoga to a veteran, prisoner, at-risk teen or another person in need. Your contribution could transform a life.

Yael Calhoun on Working With Veterans: “I Can Feel Myself Breathe”

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with GreenTREE Yoga founder Yael Calhoun for The Huffington Post Blog to learn how a body-based yoga practice can help veterans begin to heal from trauma.

“I was sitting in front a group of vets, all large men from residential substance abuse. I looked at them sitting and waiting for me to do something, (and) I couldn’t speak! I felt the weight of the opportunity and I just didn’t want to get it wrong. I finally made myself start talking… and we did the practice, just as Dave Emerson taught me. They loved it. One guy said at the end, “I could feel myself breathe. I haven’t been able to do that.”

– Yael Calhoun, founder of GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that offers trauma-sensitive yoga programs and professional education

Click here to read Yael’s thoughts on why the world needs lots of yoga teachers sharing what they love, and her tips for working with individuals who are recovering from trauma.


Do you want to bring the transformational power of yoga and meditation to underserved populations? Join Give Back Yoga at the Sedona Yoga Festival in February for a two-day Mindful Therapeutic Yoga Practices for Veterans pre-conference training that provides yoga teachers with clinically-proven techniques to help students recover from trauma and emotional stress.

Laura Cobb: Integrating Yoga Into Personal Recovery & 12-Step Work

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with yoga instructor and recovering alcoholic Laura Cobb for The Huffington Post Blog about how a personal yoga practice and teaching yoga to other students in 12-step programs can support the journey of recovery.

“Being of service is not about me. It helps in my sobriety, but often gets me out of myself. The joy of the process of recovery is in the journey, and not the destination. Likewise, with yoga, the joy is in the process of seeing what comes up on the mat and seeing where it takes me, rather than “getting” a certain pose. Nowadays, I’m simply motivated to see how my own yoga practice and that of my students allows us to respond to daily life by breathing and staying present through the physical sensations that come up.”

– Certified yoga instructor and recovering alcoholic Laura Cobb, on her work at “sober-fest” events and retreats

Click here to read more of Laura’s thoughts on the power of showing up and doing the work when it comes to recovery and the yogic journey.

Nikki Myers: Healing the Physical, Mental & Spiritual Disease of Addiction Through Yoga

In the second in a series of interviews for The Huffington Post Blog that features educators who will present at the 2013 Yoga Service Conference, Executive Director Rob Schware talks to Y12SR founder Nikki Myers on how she combined yoga and a 12-step addiction recovery program into one effective practice.

“Over the course of my years in the 12-step program, I’ve seen that there are many addicts in recovery just like me who are dealing with levels of disconnection that have roots way beyond the cognitive….(Y12SR) weaves the healing art and science of yoga together with the very practical tools of 12-step addiction recovery programs. It’s a relapse prevention program, based on the theme ‘the issues live in our tissues.'”

– Nikki Myers, founder of The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, a program now used in multiple treatment centers across the United States

Click here to read more about Nikki’s personal experience with overcoming addiction, and her vision for the future of service yoga in America.

Photo by Seegull Media.

John Morgan: Serving Veterans Recovering from Substance Abuse

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with yoga instructor John Morgan for The Huffington Post Blog about his training with the Veterans Yoga Project, and what inspires him to work with fellow veterans and military personnel who are recovering from substance abuse.

“I attended the (Veterans Yoga Project) training because I wanted to be straight with teaching this population…I try hard to get my ass back out on the line and help out where I’m needed the most.”

– Army veteran and Veterans Yoga Project ambassador John Morgan

Read John’s full interview here.


Tommy Rosen: Helping the ‘United States of Addiction’ To Recover

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Recovery 2.0 founder Tommy Rosen for The Huffington Post Blog on how personal experience with addiction helps him to teach people in recovery the skills they need to grow and heal.

 “Addiction will dismantle a person’s life. It’s relentless, and unless a person is gifted with ‘surrender,’ which means having the willingness as well as a path of recovery and available tools, it’s unlikely they will live to their potential, if they survive the disease at all…I know yoga works. I’ve felt it.”

– Tommy Rosen on teaching Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Read Tommy’s full interview here.

Kyczy Hawk: Yoga Service Is a Key To Sobriety

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with instructor Kyczy Hawk for The Huffington Post Blog on how teaching Yoga of 12-Step Recovery benefits both students and teachers.

“Teaching there has presented me with ongoing experience of how much yoga has to offer people in recovery. A lot of people in long-term sobriety love the discussions that occur…I also get phenomenal positive feedback from my work in treatment centers. From the moment participants express having better sleep and being able to relax, to using the breath to make better choices and decrease negative impulses — their spontaneous endorsements let me know I’ve chosen a useful service path.”

–       Certified Y12SR instructor Kyczy Hawk

Read Kyczy’s full interview here.

Christy Burnette on Serving Native American Communities

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Conscious Community Yoga Association founder Christy Burnette for The Huffington Post Blog on how yoga outreach is transforming the lives of Native American students who are disabled or recovering from addiction.

“In the programs for disabled persons, there has been a very interesting development. Through their HMO, the participants are encouraged to engage in two activities per month. Since CCYoga began teaching, more have been choosing yoga. At the same time, those requesting support groups for depression and anxiety have declined. It is a trend that we’d like to continue.”

– Christy Burnette, founder of the Arizona-based non-profit Conscious Community Yoga Association

Read Christy’s full interview here. 

Lynda Ferrara on Serving Women in Recovery

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with teacher Lynda Ferrara for The Huffington Post Blog on how yoga can help women recovering from addiction find peace, self-knowledge and change – and how sharing yoga has become an integral part of her own recovery journey.

“What connects us and opens (my students) up is not the content of the asana sequence, but my willingness to become vulnerable with them. They know my story. I’ve shared my pain, my joy and my gratitude for recovery with them. There is no judgment or expectation of them…I feel their energy, open my heart, and magic happens. What seems like such a small offering means so much to these women, and is so powerful to those who are ready to receive it.”

– Lynda Ferrara, yoga instructor for Kula for Karma’s outreach program at Newark’s Integrity House  

Read Lynda’s full interview here.