Can Yoga Help With Addiction Recovery?

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In the modern world, those recovering from a substance use disorder have a wide range of options for treatment, including traditional, alternative, and complementary methods. A mix of these approaches is used in most treatment centers around the United States with much success.

That being said, there is still some skepticism associated with using holistic practices in addiction treatment. The skeptics often question the usefulness of these methods as well as their benefits. One such practice in question is yoga. Yoga has been used more and more in addiction recovery in recent years, but how exactly does it help people in recovery? The specifics are fascinating, and understanding how yoga can help people struggling with substance use meet sobriety their sobriety goals is crucial.

What Is Yoga?

As defined by the Yoga Journal, yoga in today’s world consists of using physical postures and positions to aid with connecting to the complete self, meaning the mind, body, and breath, in order to gain self-awareness and bring one’s attention inward.

Yoga comes from yuj, the Sanskrit word for union. It has been used for centuries to connect the body and mind. Yoga does this through breathing, exercise, and meditation.

In the United States, the form of yoga referred to as hatha yoga is the most common one practiced today. Hatha yoga uses physical postures and positions coupled with breathing techniques. It works because when the body is posed in a specific manner, energy opens and flows throughout the body because it is in proper alignment. This brings about a spiritual element as the connection between mind, body, and soul is brought into focus.

The Benefits of Yoga

  • Emotional healing
  • Alleviated stress
  • Heals pain
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Decreases fatigue
  • Sleep better
  • Exercise more
  • Promotes healthier eating habits
  • Helps increase energy
  • Allows self-reflection to take place
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Overall improvement of health and wellness

Effects of Yoga on the Brain 

Yoga has a variety of effects on the brain, as seen in the results of different studies conducted on those that participate in the activity. Numerous positive effects have been recorded. According to one study done in 2019, people that engage in yoga over an extended period of time are better able to cope with negative emotions and stressful situations than those with no experience.

Another study, conducted by Canadian scientists and published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine Vol. 44, found that yoga increases the learning rate, accuracy, and speed of motor tasks. The results also found that sensory awareness, self-regulation, and parasympathetic activity are also increased and improved after performing yoga. Those that engage in yoga have been found to have higher pain tolerance and less anxiety.

Overall, yoga has a multitude of positive benefits that can be used not only in addiction recovery but also in everyday life. These positive effects of yoga are extremely helpful for those on their recovery journey to find their inner peace and help them achieve and maintain sobriety.

Yoga in Addiction Recovery 

There are several physical, mental, and emotional benefits to yoga. These can be used to your advantage when healing from a substance use disorder. This is because yoga brings awareness to your breathing, surroundings, and feelings. In this way, you can begin to improve your self-awareness and listen to what your body needs.

Once you learn to be self-aware, you can begin to use this skill in your recovery. For example, listening to what your body needs and wants allows you to cope with stressors as they come along. Cravings are a part of recovery that many people in recovery must learn to cope with, and yoga can help this by allowing the person to manage their cravings when they are aware of them, rather than avoiding or giving in to those cravings.

Additional Benefits of Yoga

Other benefits of yoga include improved sleep, better self-esteem, more energy, and less stress. All of these things combined are crucial to recovery, as each can play a role in maintaining your sobriety. Better sleep gives you the proper energy levels to put in the work each and every day to achieve sobriety. Better self-esteem causes you to want to take care of your body and improve your overall well-being. The exercise parts of yoga also alleviate stress and fill up your free time, avoiding boredom and possible isolation, both common triggers of relapse.

Combining Yoga With a Comprehensive Treatment Plan

Yoga is not a treatment that should be used alone to treat addiction. Instead, for the best results, it should be used alongside other traditional and holistic treatments, such as group therapy, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and others. Combining yoga with other forms of therapy, support groups, medication, and more can give a person a clear mind and the motivation to continue with their treatment and see their recovery through.

At The Kimberly Center, we understand the different approaches to treating addiction. We know that not every treatment will work for everyone, which is why we provide different methods and approaches to help our clients overcome their addiction and achieve sobriety in the long term. With our experiential therapies, clients engage in activities that help them build healthy coping skills. Yoga, as well as other mindfulness and grounding techniques, can have incredibly beneficial effects for those in addiction recovery. By engaging in mindfulness practices, our bodies become in tune with our minds, creating a heightened sense of self-awareness. This is helpful in addiction treatment because it teaches the individual to listen to their body and what it needs, helping them to cope with stressors that may come. To learn more about our programs and approaches to addiction treatment and recovery, contact us today at (855) 452-3683. Your journey can begin here.

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