The use of yoga to help heal addiction is another example of the integration of Eastern medical and spiritual practices with Western approaches. Western medical providers are using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture as complementary treatments to help manage pain, avoid certain types of surgery, and manage the side effects of powerful prescription drugs. Providers in the drug and substance recovery fields are similarly using yoga to help heal addiction.
What is Yoga?
According to the entry on Yogapedia, yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated centuries ago in ancient India. During the 20th Century, yoga began to gain large followings in the West, where it is most commonly associated with asanas (yoga poses) or stretching exercises. Yoga is far more than learning to master asanas. Asanas are one of the “eight limbs” of yoga. Taken as a whole, the goal of yoga is to achieve liberation by joining the mind, body, and spirit.
How Yoga Helps to Heal Addiction
Yoga can be used during any stage of recovery to help the person with an addiction. But it may be most beneficial in preventing relapses following the detox stage of recovery. There are many situations and circumstances that lead to addiction. Common examples include work/family issues, anxiety, pain, low self-esteem, pleasure-seeking, lack of self-control, medical conditions, psychological problems, and so forth. In the effort to eliminate the negative aspects of the situation, people turn drugs or alcohol. The unfortunate consequence can be the development of an addiction to the substance. The core principles of focus and discipline within yoga can help people overcome the causes of their addiction and work to break its grip on their lives.
One way people can use yoga to help heal addiction is to learn to apply its focus on the mind, body, and spirit. People suffering from addiction often lead a lifestyle that lacks physical exercise due to feeling lethargic. They may be hurting from chronic pain or depression. Yoga can address these issues, and more, by helping the person focus on the moment rather than the discomfort or craving. Yoga develops the power of self-control through its meditative aspects and the physical requirements of forming and holding poses. Not only does it help heal the mental side of addiction, but it also provides regular physical exercise to help heal the body.
Which Form of Yoga is the Best to Help Heal Addiction?
There are 8 basic forms of yoga, so answering this question is a bit difficult and may not even matter. People have successfully used several styles of yoga to help heal addiction. The combination of physical exercise, breathing, and meditation that is common to most forms of yoga appears to be what is essential in helping break the cycle of addiction.
Given that, any form of yoga that encompasses these elements can be used. It becomes a matter of personal preference and comfort. Yoga is a deeply personal experience and being comfortable with all its aspects is vital for a person with an addiction to gain the most benefit.
In some instances, certain yoga poses may be challenging for the recovering individual to perform. Sensitivity to this potential issue is necessary to ensure that a person in these situations still reaps the benefits of yoga. Where poses cannot be achieved, other less demanding movements and breathing exercises are useful replacements.
Yoga Alone or in Combination?
Studies and experience with the use of yoga to help health addiction show it is not enough to prevent relapses by itself. Therapy providers are learning that yoga used in combination with an ongoing group rehabilitation program produces the best results. It appears that the camaraderie of group programs and the reinforcement they provide is enhanced by the practice of yoga. As one site says, addiction is the ultimate check-out from reality. By contrast, yoga is the ultimate focus on the here and now. Even if practiced in a group, yoga is a deeply singular practice. Having group interactions outside of yoga is necessary to achieve the best results.
The practice of yoga requires intense concentration on performing precise movements and exercises. This focus shuts out the distractions of life and calms an overly active mind that can create the temptation to relapse. When a person becomes calm and focused, the urge to resume using the addictive substance is removed or reduced. With a peaceful, tranquil state of mind, the recovering addict can see that the benefits of sobriety outweigh the false relief of addiction.
Struggling with Addiction?
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or you want to learn how yoga can help heal addiction, please get in touch with us. Contact us or call 877-225-7724 today to learn about our yoga and other therapies. Don’t suffer from the effects of substance abuse any longer.