Are you aware that the practice of yoga for addiction recovery can yield powerful results? In recent years, yoga has become a popular form of exercise due to its breathing techniques, meditation, and poses, or asanas, which enhance well-being and promote control of the mind and body. Although it originated in ancient India and has been around for more than 5,000 years, medical researchers have only begun to acknowledge the benefits of yoga in disease prevention, management, and addiction treatment.
The practice promotes self-awareness and mental focus, which can be advantageous for individuals undergoing treatment for substance abuse or addiction, especially when combined with other treatment methods. If you’re interested in a more holistic approach to achieving sobriety, keep reading to discover how you can use yoga to enhance your recovery.
The benefits of Yoga for addiction recovery
Addicts often use substances to avoid reality. Yoga is a healthy alternative that empowers individuals to access a restorative inner state instead of choosing a destructive escape route. The practice not only can lift you to higher ground, but also offers many other benefits, including:
Yoga can be very liberating. You’re defying gravity and overcoming fear when you master a challenging pose. When your body is able to execute a difficult technique, it boosts your confidence and drives you to conquer more difficult poses.
Healthy habits —
Practicing daily yoga encourages mindfulness, which can help you eat more nutritiously and stick to good habits in other areas of your life.
Stress relief —
By forcing you to concentrate on the moment, yoga can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety — emotional states that may trigger a relapse. Certain inversions such as Child’s Pose can be very calming.
Positive self-image —
Yoga allows you to develop inner awareness, which focuses your attention on your body’s abilities in the present moment rather than its physical appearance. Focusing inward during yoga can help you be less critical of your body.
A sense of community —
By taking classes or workshops, you can meet like-minded individuals who are on their own spiritual journey.
Improved sleep —
Yoga can calm the mind and body, which can have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep. Specific vinyasa flows, which synchronize breathing and movement, guided meditations and kundalini practices such as left-nostril breathing can also help prepare you for rest.
Regulated breathing —
The formal practice of controlling your breath in yoga through various techniques is called Pranayama. The rhythmic breathing exercises taught in yoga can aid in addiction recovery by reducing cravings.
Yoga Poses That Support Addiction Recovery
Ease into yoga for addiction recovery by trying these simple and gentle poses. You can add advanced inversions into your practice once you gain more flexibility and confidence.
Balasana or Child’s Pose —
Return to the state of childlike innocence by performing this peaceful resting pose. It stretches the whole body and relaxes the neck and shoulders.
How to do it: Kneel down with your thighs slightly apart. Inhaling deeply, raise your hands over your head and slowly bring them forward to touch the floor. Keep both arms stretched out, palms on the floor and breathe as naturally as possible while relaxing all your muscles. Remain in the position for a few minutes before moving on to the next pose.
Corpse Pose —
Savasana or Corpse Pose is one of the most difficult of the asanas because it requires total relaxation. Its neutral position also makes for a great meditation pose. The goal of Savasana is to remain conscious while being at ease.
How to do it: On a yoga mat, lie on your back and move your legs slightly apart. Position your arms at your sides with palms facing upwards. With your eyes closed, inhale deeply and concentrate on breathing in through the nose and out with the mouth. Relaxing the body in Savasana can lower blood pressure, decrease the heart rate and reduce fatigue.
While there are many addiction recovery resources available, yoga for addiction recovery can be an effective and powerful tool. Practicing for just 15 to 30 minutes a day could transform your life on and off the mat in numerous ways. For more information about the benefits of practicing yoga, see the accompanying guide.
About the Author
Chris Hassan is President and CEO of Symetria Health® — the country’s first comprehensive evidence-based opioid addiction treatment program, designed to deliver data-validated outcomes that outperform other treatments currently available. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment, is active on several national panels and corporate boards, while also serving as a Huffington Post contributor.
This infographic was created by Symetria Recovery, an opioid treatment center