Yoga for addiction recovery can be extremely beneficial during rehabilitation treatment and beyond. Find out why it works and how to get started here.
Figures show that 23.5 million Americans struggle with various forms of addiction. As such, addiction touches all our lives, whether it affects you personally or a loved one.
For the 10 percent of Americans currently in recovery for chemical dependency and substance abuse, behavioral therapy and medications provide a much-needed lifeline. But, alternative practices, such as yoga, can also help those struggling with dependency.
Read on to find out some of the key benefits of yoga for addiction recovery.
1. Centers Control
Many addicts experience highs and lows that take them from love to hate to joy to sadness in a matter of seconds. This constant state of flux is exhausting and damaging. And, it causes you to become reactionary in an attempt to gain control over external sources.
In this sense, yoga and addiction couldn’t be more different. Yoga teaches you to steady yourself from the inside out.
Recovery yoga provides the space you need to center your responses as you become more aware of yourself and those around you.
In time, you will learn that your power lies in your ability to control your reaction to any given situation. Life will always challenge you, but, with the tools you need to find your center, you can change the way you react.
2. Brings a Sense of Community
Many people who check into a rehabilitation center find the sense of community to be crucial to their recovery towards quitting addictions.
Yoga for addicts brings the same kind of community benefits, where you’ll appreciate being part of a ‘tribe’. You may not be discussing chakras right away. But, you’ll soon feel the connection to your group and something bigger than yourself.
As a group of addicts, you’ve all struggled alone through addiction. But, struggling through yoga moves as a group unites you as a community towards a more positive future.
3. Connects Mind and Body
Yoga, as both a physical and mental practice forces addicts to focus on their bodies as a way to stop the fluctuations of the mind. While concentrating on physical movements and focusing on breathing, the mind becomes quiet.
Through these practices, a connection between the mind and body develops organically. This connection is often something that addicts lose through their struggles with addiction, if they ever possessed it at all. As such, yoga teaches addicts to recognize the full power of their being as a whole, which in turn aids recovery.
4. Provides a Natural High
At the crux of addiction lies the need to chase highs and escape from the reality of life. Often, addicts will turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to fill their inner void and feed their senses.
Yoga and meditation teach us to become detached from our senses as we direct our attention inward, and away from external stimuli. Over time, this practice allows us to be more reliant on the peace within ourselves, with less need for external pleasure.
As a form of exercise, yoga also helps to boost the brain’s serotonin levels, leading to an improved mood and greater self-confidence. In this sense, recovery yoga provides a healthy natural high that addicts can find strength in.
5. Builds Strength of Mind
On the subject of strength, yoga and meditation are to your mind what dumbbells are to your biceps.
Specifically, yoga helps the development of the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for impulse control, decision-making and perseverance. It’s also the area that is most compromised by addiction.
As such, yoga, and healthy practices such as imaginative games and showing gratitude can help reverse the damage done by addiction. And, yoga also helps to build the strength of mind and perseverance necessary to overcome addiction.
6. Helps with Stress and Anxiety Management
By providing a positive channel for the release of negative emotions, yoga helps with the stress and anxiety many addicts face.
Also, anxiety can often be a trigger for a relapse. Through mindfulness and a sensation of calm, yoga eases these negative feelings and helps reduce cravings.
There is also a form of yoga called Kundalini yoga which specifically targets the nervous system. This then helps to strengthen and reinforce your body’s stress response.
Through various kriyas (postures, meditations, and breathing exercises), addicts find this method indispensable for overcoming the fear, panic attacks and stress that used to fuel their addictions.
7. Inspires Determination
Quitting addictions takes a lot more determination than many people have. So, addicts need to strengthen their already depleted resolves as a way to force change.
Holding uncomfortable postures for extended periods of time, stopping a whirling mind or focusing on slow and purposeful breaths all take determination and strength of character.
Yoga takes addicts to the edge, providing them with the opportunity to give up while inspiring them to continue. And, by resisting the urge to give in on the yoga mat, they can translate these results to real-life situations.
8. Acts as a Healthy Coping Mechanism
Embracing yoga as part of your recovery process also provides you with a means to cope with triggers such as difficult days or bad news.
With yoga as an antidote, resisting the urge to reach for drink or drugs becomes easier. Instead of an artificial hit, you will learn to find solace and inner peace on the yoga mat.
As well as offering a replacement for your addictions, yoga also reduces the need for them. This is because yoga helps you prepare for stressful situations where your resolve may be tested.
As such, yoga provides positive reinforcement and a coping mechanism with no downsides.
9. Introduces Guidance through Spiritual Teachers
Beyond exercise and beyond recovery, yoga is a source of strength for many individuals fighting their own private battles. Not least because of the inspirational teachers they learn from.
Yoga teachers don’t just lead yoga classes. They lead their students to discover more about themselves, guiding and shaping their future in ways even they may not realize.
And, for many yoga teachers, yoga has provided a means to overcome their own personal traumas. Often, this leads recovering addicts to find affinity in their teachings.
The Benefits of Yoga for Addiction Recovery
As these benefits of yoga for addiction recovery show, it provides a great way for addicts to overcome their addictions by inspiring them to change from within.
By strengthening the mind, providing a natural high and a healthy coping mechanism, yoga encourages addicts to cultivate their own tools to resist triggers and overcome addiction for good.
For more information about treatment options and addiction advice, contact us today.