People have many different perceptions of yoga. Some think of intimidating feats of balance and flexibility that few can achieve. Others think it’s silly and isn’t real exercise. Still, others find it a relaxing and calming process that gets them in tune with themselves mentally and physically. Yoga is a slow pace form of exercise based on deep spiritual traditions. For people in addiction recovery, yoga is an ideal activity to counter the disorientation and sense of self-alienation caused by addiction.
Why Does Substance Addiction Alienate People From Themselves?
Self-alienation is when the mind and body become disconnected or unaligned. Individuals in this position may feel a lack of control over their behavior or even a sense of separation from their actions or reality. Substance addiction may cause this experience. Many emotional pains, including stress and anxiety, are rooted in disconnection.
The terrible truth about substance addiction is that when individuals feel disconnected from themselves, they tend to rely more heavily on drugs or alcohol to find a sense of equilibrium. People are desperate to escape these “bad” feelings that go for an artificial euphoria or numbness. Because substance use and disconnection feed into each other, they become a vicious cycle.
Why Is the Mind-Body Connection Essential for Recovery?
Getting sober is not the entirety of recovery. Even after substances are removed from one’s system, the mind can still harbor dysfunction. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a disease of both the mind and body. As such, recovery efforts must focus on healing both together, not neglecting one or trying to work on each separately.
Because the mind has become accustomed to operating on heightened experiences of counterfeit pleasure and immediate gratification, it’s hard to find satisfaction from normal, healthy experiences. To achieve balance and well-being, recovering individuals need to intentionally guide their minds and bodies to a place of peace and connection.
There are many ways to sync the mind with the body. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals identify negative thought patterns that influence their behaviors; when one has a higher awareness of how the mind and body interplay, one may better cope with difficult situations. However, this process takes time, patience, and practice. Experiential therapies such as adventure therapy, mindfulness meditation, and yoga are supplemental methods that can expedite restoring mind-body balance.
Yoga Restores Mind-Body Connection
Based on ancient Indian traditions, yoga has a history of 3,000 years. It is a practice that combines physical poses with conscious awareness of feelings and thoughts. While participants move through these poses and become mindful of their breath, their minds can focus on keeping them grounded. The physical aspect of the poses can strengthen their bodies, while the meditative and mindful aspects relieve tension in the mind.
Like mindfulness meditation, yoga also helps participants develop self-awareness. When one focuses on a pose, it trains the mind to align with each body part. While maintaining bodily balance, one is encouraged to practice diaphragmatic breathing. Yoga also extends the muscles, improving flexibility and self-awareness about one’s physical limits and capabilities. This body awareness helps one’s whole being energize and destress. Yoga is also a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints.
Can Yoga Cure Mental Health Conditions?
As a supplemental and holistic recovery method, yoga is not a cure for mental illness. However, gentle movement and focused breathing can certainly alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. The combination of bodily movements and conscious mental awareness helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
As a method of relaxation, yoga is particularly suitable for people recovering from addiction. While they learn how to manage cravings and triggers, avoid boredom, and use healthy coping techniques, yoga can quiet the mind and focus on the present moment. Yoga can be used as its own practice or as a cool-down from a more intense workout. Furthermore, yoga poses improve concentration and mental focus. It trains the mind to be resilient.
Because yoga originates from a holistic religion, it also promotes a lifestyle that prioritizes balance and well-rounded health. A yogic lifestyle may include reading, making more conscious choices in life, a daily meditation routine, and a balanced diet. Research shows that yoga offers therapeutic potential and helps people improve their quality of life.
Maintaining a Regular Yoga Practice to Promote Mind-Body Connection
Although there are many kinds of yoga practices around, individuals can begin with a low-impact workout that fits their schedule and intensity. Every yoga pose can be modified. There is no right or wrong way to do it. The whole purpose is to tune with one’s body and inner self for better mind-body balance.
Many addiction treatment centers offer yoga as part of their recovery programs. Doing yoga in a group therapy setting can also be a bonding experience. Given enough time and practice, individuals experience the physical and mental health benefits of this mind-body practice.
Many recovering individuals benefit greatly from doing yoga. It allows them to become grounded and improve mind-body connection throughout recovery. Yoga works best in substance use disorder treatment when combined with other traditional and alternative therapy forms. Laguna Shores Recovery offers yoga classes as a holistic group therapy to build health and community. Additionally, we use evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. Alongside customized treatment plans, family therapy, and support groups, Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare alumni programs that connect you with a supportive community of recovering individuals. You do not have to struggle alone. Let us help you discover mind-body balance. Call us today at (866) 774-1532.