Yoga & Addiction Recovery
This quite literally saving my life. In addition to the many other disciplines I’ve added to my daily/weekly routine in an effort to turn around my life around mindfulness (MBSR) and the mind-body connection I’ve discovered through yoga has been nothing short of life changing for the better. Today we are fortunate enough to have multiple approaches to treating Substance Use Disorder and addiction, from traditional to alternative. More and more programs are focusing on the whole person holistic approaches that encompass a wide variety of modalities and tools to help achieve and maintain recovery. Yoga is a powerful adjunct (in addition to, not in place of) practice that is often used as a tool to help individuals build much needed awareness to help them get and stay sober.
Yoga has many benefits, including:
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Increased physical stamina and strength
- Self-reflection and increased self-awareness
- Heightened self-confidence and improved self-image
- Pain relief
- Better sleep
- Increased energy levels
- Reduction in fatigue
- Emotional healing
- Overall health and wellness
When people abuse drugs or alcohol regularly, the pathways related to feeling pleasure, regulating emotions, making sound decisions, and controlling impulses are negatively impacted. After a period of time without the influence of mind-altering substances and various therapies including yoga the brain chemistry and circuitry can heal and rebuild itself.
The practice of yoga can help to balance parts of the brain and body that are impacted by drug abuse. In addition to the physical aspects of yoga, there are many emotional benefits as well. One of the most obvious and destructive consequences of addiction is the ‘disconnection’ from one’s own body, mind and spirit. When practicing yoga, people become more attuned to their bodies by learning to regulate their breathing as a tool to help cultivate mind/body/spirit awareness. Individuals are guided to use their breath to help them overcome the initial mental, emotional and physical discomforts. Used in this way, yoga helps reduce anxiety and stress by helping the individual build mental discipline, emotional regulation and physical resilience allowing them to respond differently to thoughts, feelings and discomfort. This helps create self-awareness. This awareness can also help support individuals through difficult times, emotional unmanageability, disappointments, grief and resentments that typically lead to relapse.
By shifting their focus inward, individuals can build an awareness of the things they can control and cultivate an acceptance for the things they seemingly can’t. When individuals shift their energies towards taking ownership for the way they feel and gain control over their own actions, they cultivate self-restraint and become more self-confident. By recognizing cravings when they occur and not attempting to avoid them, an individual may be better able to cope with and manage these feelings if they are more physically aware of them when they occur.
Many of the 12-Step programs that individuals join during treatment and recovery in order to garner support are steeped in spiritual concepts. Though there are no religious requirements to practice the 12-Steps, at the heart of any 12-Step program is the importance of adopting a spiritual way of life. Yoga can enhance this and help people reach that spiritual connection through breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation and an overall mind/body connection and awareness. Quieting down all external influences through yoga and practicing deep self-reflection can help the individual come to realize what personal changes they need to make in order to find permanent sobriety and inner peace. This can also lead to a deeper connection with themselves leading to a more meaningful and purposeful life.
Cornerstone Healing Center incorporates yoga practice into the daily lives of our clients as part of our mind, body and spirit approach to addiction recovery.
If you have questions about addiction treatment, please call 800-480-1781