Yoga is increasingly being used in substance abuse treatment programs and throughout recovery to help prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, and provide a healthy outlet to cope with potential triggers and daily life stressors.
As a therapeutic practice, yoga has been used to relieve many symptoms often associated with addiction. Such symptoms may include both physical and mental ailments, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trouble breathing, insomnia and various body aches and pains. These are common mind and body reactions that occur during addiction recovery.
When used in conjunction with other traditional therapy practices, yoga can be an effective therapy that individuals can practice throughout their lifetime to calm themselves and improve clarity of mind whenever needed.
Yoga combines physical exercise with mental and spiritual health through a series of intentional body poses and deep breathing techniques. The slow pace and relaxed nature of yoga is ideal for addiction recovery because it allows the person practicing to be mindful of the present by concentrating on breathing, thoughts and physical body sensations.
This mental and physical discipline trains the mind to consider our thoughts and feelings in the moment, which prevents destructive actions and stabilizes emotions. Addiction is typically the result of avoiding emotional emptiness. Yoga acts to counter this by teaching us to focus on the joy of the moment and the energy our body produces during and long after the practice.
Many individuals recovering from addiction feel they’ve lost touch with how their minds and bodies feel, because addiction serves as a way to numb and disconnect you from your mind and body. Ultimately, yoga reconnects those suffering from addiction with the importance of taking care of their bodies and minds, which have been abused throughout addiction.
The practice of yoga may actually help to balance some parts of the brain and body that are impacted by drug abuse in a natural way. In addition to the physical aspects of yoga, there are also many emotional benefits as well. When practicing yoga, people are attuned to their bodies, learn to regulate their breathing, and to really listen to their bodies. This can create a self-awareness of how things may make a person feel a certain way in a nonjudgmental fashion.
By focusing all energy inward, individuals can learn to take ownership for the way they feel and gain control over themselves and their subsequent actions. In so doing, they may also become more self-reliant and self-confident.
Yoga can also help increase strength and improve flexibility. It can also help reduce the stress response, which helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels and feelings of depression and anxiety.
Yoga can also increase energy levels, encourage people to eat better, and improve quality of sleep that may be disrupted by drug withdrawal symptoms. When people feel better physically, they are more able to handle stress and anything that may come up during the day. More sleep means a clearer head and lower irritability levels.
Many of the 12-Step programs individuals join during recovery to garner support are steeped in spirituality and spiritual concepts. Yoga can enhance this and help individuals to reach that spiritual connection through breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation. Quieting down all external influences through yoga may help a person to find inner peace through self-reflection and come to a personal realization of what they may need to change to improve their life.
Apart from its physical and mental benefits, yoga for addiction recovery is also an important practice to establish a routine of self-care and personal transformation. This then leads to greater levels of self-esteem and confidence, providing further strength to propel you through the recovery process.
There are countless benefits of practicing yoga throughout the addiction healing process. The benefits of regular yoga practice impact our body, mind and spirit, and are felt during our daily lives, even when we aren’t physically practicing.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, the addiction recovery programs at Valor Recovery Center combine traditional and holistic therapies to create a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Our addiction experts can help you break free from harmful substances and learn a new way to live.
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