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Why Does Yoga Help Addiction Recovery?

Why Does Yoga Help Addiction Recovery?

When it comes to methods and programs to treat substance addiction, you may have heard of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), 12-Step groups, and mindfulness meditation. Did you know that yoga is also considered a holistic approach with benefits that help you help maintain recovery? As a natural form of medicine, yoga can be used in tandem with other traditional methods.

Benefits of Yoga in Recovery

As a form of mind-body practice in the Indian spiritual tradition, yoga has eight components: personal discipline, posture, breathing, concentration, contemplation, meditation, stillness, and societal conduct. It is considered a holistic intervention for treating many mental health conditions like substance use disorder (SUD), anxiety, and PTSD.

Yoga uses physical postures to help you strengthen your mind-body connection and self-awareness. It offers many benefits, including stress relief, pain relief, increased physical strength, self-reflection, and emotional healing.

Like mindfulness meditation, yoga helps you become more attuned to your body’s movements and physical sensations. You learn to feel a certain way with non-judgment. Listening to your body is a form of self-care. Focusing your energy inward may help you take back ownership of your body and feelings.

Relieving Withdrawal Symptoms

Because yoga is known to increase energy levels and improve your quality of sleep, it has been found effective to release these symptoms and related health conditions. When you feel better about your body, you are more able to cope with stress and daily challenges during recovery.

For those who are looking for spiritual concepts outside of the 12-Step group tradition, yoga offers another pathway in the Indian spiritual tradition to find inner peace through self-reflection. It can be a grounding exercise that expands your awareness of the environment, something that is often neglected by people under stress. For example, a yoga instructor may begin by saying, “Press down into your feet and feel the support of the ground.” This immediately connects you with your body and your physical surroundings.

Science Confirms The Benefits of Yoga

Research shows that yoga has healing powers by harnessing a complex mind-body connection. It can trigger an immediate response in genetic activities. For just 20 minutes a day over two months, yoga participants show substantial changes in gene expression.

Yoga brings ease to your mind-body system by detoxifying the body and calming the mind. It also strengths muscles, works out the organs of digestion, regulates the endocrine system, and improves blood circulation and lung capacity. By learning to do simple movements, experiencing stillness, and coming to be content with your current state of being, yoga sends a message to your nervous system that life is well and you are safe to be in your body and mind.

The Importance of the Mind-Body Connection

SUD is a disease of disconnection. When addiction finds a foothold in the brain, it impacts the reward areas of the mind and body, allowing you to feel euphoric for a short period with the help of drugs or alcohol but depressed and anxious in the long term. Addiction makes you feel that you have no control over your body or emotions.

If addiction takes a person out of their body and prevents them from connecting with who they are, yoga encourages the connection of the mind, body, and spirit. In fact, the word “yoga” is the Sanskrit word for union. Because these systems are interconnected, your sober concentration on one helps the health of the other. Many holistic approaches heal the mind-body connection while releasing your dependence on substances.

The 12-Step Program and Yoga in Addiction Treatment

Yoga and 12-Step group meetings can be complementary to each other. In fact, yoga practice may enhance the effectiveness of a 12-Step program. Once you gain more mental clarity from yoga, you can better communicate and build relationships with your peers in a 12-Step group.

In addiction treatment, yoga can be considered a form of nonverbal group therapy. You are taught to discover yourself by using physical postures. For people with PTSD and other mental health issues, yoga can provide a stronger and more healing connection with the self.

Common Yoga Practices

A basic breathing exercise is pranayama, which helps you keep your mind focused and calm. If you need a good full-body stretch, try the fish pose, which helps relieve anxiety and stress. For releasing muscle tension, you can practice downward-facing dog posture.

A yogic lifestyle celebrates present-moment awareness and self-compassion. These can all translate to a healthier lifestyle, one where you prioritize healthy foods and quality sleep routines. With the coaching of a yoga instructor, you will walk out of the class feeling grounded, balanced, renewed, and alive.

Have you tried many relaxation exercises during recovery from SUD? Do you know of the many benefits yoga has to offer? Yoga is one way people struggling with addiction can recover. Yoga works best in SUD treatment when combined with other forms of traditional and alternative treatments. Laguna Shores Recovery uses yoga as one of our many mental health care methods for residents in recovery. We believe in holistic healing and treating the whole person, not just symptoms. At Laguna Shores, our experienced mental health professionals can coach and support you to integrate yoga and many other forms of relaxation into recovery. We also provide family therapy so family members can be the best support system possible. Call us today to discover how we can develop a fully customized treatment plan to help you overcome substance use disorder. For more information, call (866) 229-9923.