Free Weekly Yoga in Plant Park to Support UT’s Addiction Recovery Community

By Micah-Simone Durrant

The University of Tampa Recovery Community (UTRC) has partnered with The Phoenix to host a free weekly yoga session every Saturday at Plant Park in an effort to provide students with sober community activities. 

This event was kicked off with the very first yoga session of the semester on Saturday, Feb. 12, and will take place every week at 4:30 p.m.. The only requirement for attendance is 48 hours of continuous sobriety. 

“We want to be able to have these types of events because it’s important to encourage activities for all students that don’t have anything to do with drinking or drug use,” said Addie Carothers, director of wellness at UT’s wellness services.

Carothers organized this event in collaboration with The Pheonix to provide support for UT’s recovery community, however, all students are welcome. 

“We very much encourage allies to be involved in our recovery community,” said Carothers. 

The event took place in the field of plant park facing Downtown Tampa. Mats and yoga blocks were provided by The Phoenix. Volunteer yoga teacher, Taryn McLaughlin, led the practice with energetic and descriptive guidance. 

McLaughlin is a certified trauma informed yoga teacher who works with cancer patients, military veterans and amputees in addition to the volunteer work that she does with those in sober recovery at The Phoenix. 

“For me, being able to teach yoga gives me the opportunity to give back and to support my friends who are on the sober recovery journey,” said McLaughlin.

The Phoenix is a national non-profit organization that aims to build a sober active community by providing activities for people who are actively recovering from addiction, sober, or allies to someone in recovery.

Brittany Garner helped bring The Phoenix to Tampa and has been working as the programs manager since 2019. Garner chose to partner with UTRC because she wants the organization’s efforts to reach people at a younger age. 

“We want students to know that there are people trying to get away from drugs and alcohol while they’re in a collegiate setting before it gets too bad,” said Garner.

The yoga practice is an hour and 15 minute, moderately intense session that includes flow from one movement to the next connected by breath. With nearly a dozen people in attendance, only two were UT students. 

UTRC is a student-led organization that provides events for students who are recovering from substance or alcohol abuse and allies to those in recovery. This semester, they meet every Tuesday in the Wellness Center at 6 p.m. 

They also host various sober events throughout the semester other than the Saturday yoga session. Carothers, who organizes UTRC, encourages students to reach out to her to get involved with the club. Specifically, UTRC is looking for leadership from students who are actively in recovery or have been through recovery to expand in events like Saturday yoga. 

Garner is also eager to increase student participation and expand upon UTRC and The Phoenix’s collaboration to bring sober activities to students. 

“The more that we can come together and break down the stigma around substance abuse, the more we have a fighting chance as a society to take the shame away,” said Garner. “Your life doesn’t end when you get sober.” 

Photo Courtesy of The Phoenix

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