Twelve steps to peace through yoga

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 29, 2019

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Each pose in yoga activates something in the brain or the body, according to Maria Menozzi, of St. Clair Shores.

The licensed therapist, certified in addiction counseling and trauma, said she became a yoga instructor to be able to integrate restorative yoga practices, mindfulness techniques and meditation with breathing practices for those struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and addiction.

Many people are overwhelmed dealing with anxiety, trauma, stress and addiction, she said, and don’t have the confidence that they can overcome it. A monthly donation-based yoga class that she teaches, however, aims to dispel that idea and give participants the tools to be healthy.

“Let’s do something supplemental, so you are really finding that optimum health that can be helpful every single day,” she said.

Menozzi offers 12-Step Yoga for Unity, or 12SY4U, once a month at Hippie Yoga, 28628 Harper Ave. The class for addiction and trauma recovery has become increasingly popular over the past two years, Menozzi said.

“I created it to offer it to the community, to those who are struggling. It also offers very specific tools for people with trauma (and) addiction,” she said. “We don’t become addicts in a vacuum.”

Offered the second Friday of each month for a suggested $5 donation, with the proceeds going to local animal rescue groups, Menozzi said that she offers a basic yoga sequence that participants can do at home, and also meditation, calming breaths and information about how each piece can help their body.

“There are specific things that people that have anxiety and trauma, (that) we can get them to do, a breath that’s calming. ... I developed this specific class that is the same every time people come,” she said. “We do a little warmup poses and a few standing poses. We end with the serenity prayer using a yoga heart breath pose.”

Menozzi teaches the class with Vanessa Beresford, of St. Clair Shores. The pair met when they trained to become yoga teachers in 2017. Beresford said that they connected because they both wanted to help those with addiction in their yoga practice.

“It seems like people, there’s a little bit of peace in them when they leave, just trying to tap into the present moment,” Beresford said. “Just a great place to find that is on a mat.”

She said those with anxiety and addiction often find it difficult to calm their racing mind, but yoga offers a great way to do that.

“People like the community, too. It’s kind of like being at church. Everybody’s at the same space with the same intentions,” she said. “People come back and bring friends, and they might have somebody in from out of town that they might have with them.”

Menozzi said they can accommodate about 20 people at each 12SY4U session and that more than a dozen have been attending each month. She said she hopes to reach more people through the class and other yoga practices she offers for those suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction, and also for veterans.

“There’s a lot of shame and stigma with addiction, and when you come to something like this and you know it’s going somewhere, you feel better about yourself,” she said. “My goal is to bring it to the larger community.”

The next 12SY4U class will be held at 7 p.m. April 12 at Hippie Yoga, 28628 Harper Ave. For more information, visit