Yoga For Addiction Recovery

Yoga For Addiction Recovery

Drug and alcohol abuse are major health problems in America. In fact, they are the leading causes of the general deterioration of health, socioeconomic issues, and increased health care expenses. Various approaches are used to treat addiction such as medically-assisted detoxification, counseling, therapy, and psychiatric support.

Recently, there has been a surge in the inclusion of yoga for addiction recovery as an effective treatment approach.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient philosophy and form of exercise that is traditionally practiced in the Hindu culture. It focuses on the spiritual and mental aspects of a person which is achieved through yoga poses, also known as asanas. That said, yoga for addiction recovery goes beyond the mental concentration and physical exertion of poses. Yoga for addiction recovery encompasses concepts such as mental focus, moral principles, and creating self-awareness. It is also said to bring a feeling of bliss and comfort that many people who used drugs or alcohol used to chase.

Real-life Example of the Advantages of Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Tommy Rosen, a yoga instructor, comes from a background of addiction and is now more than 23 years into the sobriety journey. The yoga instructor attributes his successful recovery from addiction to yoga. Tommy strongly believes that yoga for addiction recovery is an essential treatment for substance use disorder and this is why:

  • Unlike addiction which causes a lack of ease, yoga brings calm.
  • Many people who have an addiction problem have a sense of lack. On the other hand, yoga changes a person’s emotional state and manages their stress levels.
  • Addiction is associated with disconnection while yoga refers to the union of an individual’s body, spirit, and mind.

Benefits of Yoga for Addiction Recovery

A combination of mental and physical techniques have proven to have the best results in an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

  • Mood Stability

Because yoga involves managing the mind’s impulses and energy, yoga practitioners experience heightened mood stability despite outside pressures. A calm and stable mind plays a crucial role in the avoidance of self-injurious activities and behaviors like substance use disorder.

Brain scans done on people addicted to drugs or alcohol show hyperactivity in certain parts of the brain that have a higher susceptibility to being self-interested and vulnerable to behavioral and mood disorders. Yoga endeavors to free an individual from the idea of self. As such, yoga practitioners have greater connectivity to all parts of the brain. They have the ability to attain a form of cerebral stability that the brain of people addicted to drugs or alcohol lack because their brain activity mainly focuses on satisfying their addiction.

  • Relaxation and Self-Control

Yoga offers a unique combination of relaxation techniques and physical exercises. It helps individuals connect the soul and mind with the body. In yoga, you are taught relaxation and self-control.

  • Replaces Artificial High with Natural Ones

Most people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have a feeling of emptiness. In an attempt to fill that void, they turn to alcohol or drugs. Yoga teaches you to detach from your senses, draw your awareness away from external stimuli, such as substance use disorder, and focus your attention inward.

You’re thus able to have a connection with your inner and higher self. Over time, the practice teaches you to rely more on the peace within rather than the stuff outside. That is, your longing for the external pleasures fade and you become more inclined to go after the internal pleasures.

  • Eliminates Reactiveness

While going through recovery, some people have constant mood swings, and easily get angry. They don’t have control over their reactiveness. Steadily practicing yoga changes all that. It gives you space between your thoughts, an awareness of other people’s positions and the centeredness in your response. It also teaches you that your power lies in your ability to control your reaction and not in the power of defense or words.

  • Provides Community

Through classes, workshops, and teacher training, yoga practitioners form deep, meaningful, and lifelong connections. Yoga brings together like-minded people who have similar struggles and experiences.

  • Coping Mechanism

People recovering from addiction have a big gap to fill. This is one of the reasons why many recovering individuals relapse for lack of a healthy and effective coping mechanism. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol as a means to escape, yoga practitioners practice the art which is an excellent coping mechanism.

  • Helps Conquer Insomnia

There are some people who have to use alcohol or drugs such as pot to fall asleep at night. This habit may be difficult to stop, especially when you’re in addiction recovery. To transition smoothly, there are yoga sets meant to induce sleep such as kundalini practices, guided meditations, and Vinyasa flows. There is also a practice referred to as Yoga Nidra. This practice uses gradual muscle relaxation to promote yogic sleep.

  • Increased Self-Discipline

Learning to stay away from drugs and alcohol after becoming addicted may prove challenging, but being able to commit to yoga may give you the discipline you require to maintain sobriety for the rest of your life.

  • Improved Circulation

Better blood circulation minimizes the risk of heart disease while lowering blood pressure. It also increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, helps you reason more clearly, and enhances your moods. This is especially important during the depression phase that may accompany recovery.

Science and Yoga

There are many scientific studies which back the effectiveness of yoga for addiction recovery. A study conducted in 2013 suggested an optimistic role of yoga in preventing and treating drug abuse. According to the study, boosting a person’s self-control makes them highly likely to avoid abusing drugs or alcohol.

Quite often, substance use disorder and mental health disorders co-occur. A number of yoga poses and breathing techniques play an important part in alleviating the symptoms of mental disorders and stress. Yoga for addiction recovery is also known to increase the levels of GABA which reduces anxiety and stress. Yoga practitioners have reported significantly reduced stress levels after engaging in the activity.

Studies have indicated that a combination of psychotherapy and yoga is more beneficial compared to the traditional methadone treatment in drug addiction recovery. Yoga for addiction recovery reduces stress and anxiety which cause cravings and ultimately-relapse.

Rhythmic breathing techniques, which are common yoga exercises, also help to reduce nicotine cravings. Researchers are working on achieving this outcome in large populations.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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