BILLINGS - On a Sunday afternoon in Billings, the temperature inside the Black Orchid yoga studio is teetering on a scorching 100 degrees.
But for yoga instructor Stevie Robinson, that’s when she works best.
“I found yoga when I injured my knee,” she explains.
Robinson says she used to be an avid runner, but an injury to her knee put her running career on the back burner. It's just one of the reasons she got into yoga. Especially hot yoga, which delivers an adrenaline punch she says she found with running.
But sobriety is another.
“When I decided to stop drinking every night, I would go home and I would do YouTube yoga for like hours,” she said.
Her journey to sobriety looks much different than others. Robinson says she started to dread the weekends when it seemed all there was to do, was go out to bars and drink with friends.
She says one day she just decided to give up drinking. Now she helps others do the same.
Billings is home to Montana’s largest and oldest Phoenix group, overseen by Robinson as the volunteer success coordinator. She works to inspire volunteers with the group to lead classes and activities.
Those with Phoenix say the active recovery community also has chapters in Bozeman, Livingston and Missoula and offers free sober events and outings to anyone interested in social activities.
Programs include kickboxing, yoga, paddle-boarding, book clubs, crafts, camping, hiking, CrossFit, and rock climbing.
The only cost to participants is 48 hours of sobriety. Activities and socialization help people overcome their reliance on alcohol.
Robinson says Phoenix members come from all backgrounds, from veterans and professionals to recent parolees.
Through yoga and cross fit, Robinson helps others get in touch with their body, including Chelsea Coons.
“The work hard plays hard thing it applies in sobriety too,” said Coons. “If you don’t put in the work to maintain sobriety, you aren’t going to get anything out of it.”
Also in Robinson’s yoga class is Jessica Smith, who says her path to sobriety came to a crossroads when she found herself in jail.
“They say the opposite of addiction is a connection, so finding good people is what is important to have a solid recover,” she said.
The Phoenix is so successful, Robinson says, because of the connection and value of physical activity for recovery.
“Helping people with mindfulness help change their patterns, right? And with physical fitness, right, same thing. The endorphins go up. You did something hard,” she said.
She wants others to know that support is out there, especially in Billings, and that recovery means finding help in recovery along the way.
Program expansion is supported by the Gianforte Family Foundation, which provided funding for kickboxing equipment in Livingston and paddleboards in Billings last year. A 2023 grant will support added equipment and services, including childcare for some family activities.
For more information on programs in your area or volunteering for The Phoenix, visit thephoenix.org.