Yogapreneur: Nikki Myers Recharges Life with 12-Step Yoga Program

Entrepreneur motivates others in her journey to overcome addiction

Nikki Myers Yoga Twist

Nikki Myers, Founder, Y12SR (Image: Myers)

Yoga and a 12-step program saved Nikki Myers’ life. While battling substance addition, she turned to both programs and realized that “there had to be a union between the cognitive approach to addiction recovery offered by 12-step programs and the somatic approach to healing offered through yoga.” So it’s fitting that she co-founded Y12SR, (the Yoga of 12 Step Recovery), which culls aspects from both programs to aid others in their addiction recovery.

The acclaimed program has been covered in The NewYork Times and Yoga Journal, solidifying Myers as a leader in the Yoga space. Myers is founder and owner of Indianapolis’s CITYOGA School of Yoga and Health, which has trained thousands of students over the years. She is also teaches Yoga at Indiana University, Purdue as well as the Hamilton County Juvenile Service Center and travels the world teaching the healing power of Yoga.

Nikki Myers’ ability to overcome addition, aid others in their recovery and in the process, become a successful business owner, make her an obvious choice for BlackEnterprise.com‘s Yogapreneur series.

BlackEnterprise.com: What was the impetus behind venturing into the health and fitness industry as an entrepreneur?

Myers: Through treatment for a substance addiction in 1987, I was introduced to the 12-step program and it absolutely saved my life.  In the course of the next 8 years through recovery, I returned to school (completing my B.S. and MBA degrees with honors), co-founded a software company and co-authored a meta data integration patent.

After 8 years in recovery, on a business trip to Amsterdam, I relapsed. Gratefully, after much despair, I came back to 12-step based recovery.

It was during this period that I began a deep re-immersion in the study of yoga after stepping away from it many years prior. I stopped my 12-step program practices and solely used yoga philosophy and practices as my support. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the perspective), 4 years after the first relapse, I relapsed again.

Y12SR helps the addict recognize the signs of relapse at the level of feeling and sensation in the body and gives them a set of tools and practices that help restore balance before the relapse. This combined approach helps them find nervous system regulation in sustainable non-destructive ways rather than destructive ones.

What has business growth been like for Y12SR?

The growth of Y12SR has been phenomenal. It has become a grassroots movement in addiction recovery. There are now weekly Y12SR meetings now in many areas of the country. In addition, the Y12SR curriculum has begun to spread to treatment centers across the U.S.  Its effectiveness continues to prove helpful not only with substance addiction (including eating disorders and food addiction), but process addictions like gambling, compulsive spending and media consumption.

What resources did you use to start and grow your business?

The biggest resources are really the intangible ones i.e. faith, trust and intuition.  From the practical perspective, it began with personal savings and small loans from family and friends. Today, Y12SR is in a fiscal sponsorship relationship with Off The Mat, Into the World (OTM), a program of The Engage Network.   OTM is a non-profit organization using yoga’s values of awareness, sustainability and service to empower activism.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during difficult economical times?

The main business related challenges have centered on fundraising and developing a strong support structure for Y12SR leaders.  My tendency during challenges of any kind, including economic challenges, is to allow myself to get distracted.  When challenges present themselves, it is especially important for me to examine and refine my focus, not allowing myself to be spread to thin.

Have you had to deal with any negative issues being a Black woman in the Yoga space?

Contrary to popular belief, the business of yoga is just as competitive as any other business.  The biggest challenge in the face of this competitiveness for me is totally staying centered in who I am- which includes the reality of being a black woman in America.  I am known for speaking from that perspective even when it may not be the ‘popular’ perspective to speak from.

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