Addiction is a threefold disease. It affects the mind, body, and spirit in various ways. While there are many traditional methods of treating addiction with behavioral therapies, more and more programs are beginning to incorporate holistic methods into their treatment programs.
By taking a holistic approach to treating addiction, the healing process occurs on the mind, body, and spirit. As a result, individuals in recovery are given tools to achieve and maintain lasting recovery.
One holistic method that is becoming increasingly popular in the treatment industry is yoga. It is a safe, healthy, and natural medicine that can greatly enhance the recovery process. Since addiction affects the whole person, the whole person must be treated. Yoga allows people to learn how to connect the body, mind, and breath to focus their attention inward and gain self-awareness.
With all of the different holistic methods of therapy available, you might be asking, “why does yoga in particular aid in addiction recovery?”
There are many reasons. One of the wonderful things about this practice is that it doesn’t require expensive equipment, it can be done nearly anytime, anywhere. The connection with the body and breath in yoga encompasses the mind, body, and spirit, to bring them into unison.
In addition, many 12-step recovery programs encourage spirituality. Although these are not religious groups, some members struggle with the idea of spirituality or a higher power. Yoga can help those who struggle with their spirituality, as it helps promote and enhance spiritual growth by increasing the connection of mind, body, and soul.
One aspect of recovery is taking care of one’s health. After all, many people who suffer from addiction will neglect their physical, mental, and emotional health before making the decision to get sober.
Some health benefits that yoga carries include:
Higher energy levels
Increased strength and physical stamina
Healthier eating habits
Improved self-confidence and self-image
Yoga and the Brain
If drugs and alcohol are abused for an extended period of time, the communication pathways of the brain are altered. The ways in which people feel pleasure, make decisions, regulate emotions, and control impulses are all affected. When a person stops taking substances suddenly, they will often feel immense stress and anxiety. However, after a period of sobriety, these pathways begin to heal and it becomes easier to regulate emotions.
Yoga can aid in this healing process by helping to regulate the stress response. Yoga helps balance the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which cause heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and body temperature to increase when elevated under stressful situations. Similarly, yoga helps increase levels of GABA in the brain which is the chemical responsible for managing stress and anxiety. With lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of GABA, stress and anxiety can be more effectively managed.
Yoga is a natural method of balancing parts of the brain that are often impacted by drug or alcohol abuse. When practicing various postures, individuals become more attuned to their own bodies. They also learn how to regulate their breathing while listening to the demands of their bodies. This can help heighten self-awareness in a nonjudgemental way by increasing understanding of how certain circumstances make a person feel.
When energy is focused inward, individuals are able to take responsibility for the way they feel, think, and act. By gaining this awareness, individuals have an opportunity to become more self-confident and self-reliant. Being able to recognize emotional triggers and cravings is important in recovery - and yoga can provide the skills needed to observe these thoughts without judgment and allow them to pass. As a result, yoga can become a crucial coping mechanism for emotional reactions and triggers.
Energy levels, eating habits, and quality sleep are often disrupted during early recovery while the mind and body are adjusting to a life without substances. However, yoga is known to improve these aspects by boosting energy levels, promoting better sleep, and encouraging healthy eating.
When people take care of their bodies by eating right and getting enough sleep, they feel better overall.
This means less irritability, a clearer head, and lower stress levels. Without these unpleasant feelings, individuals are able to focus more on their recovery than on stress or agitation.
Lastly, yoga helps improve the mind-body connecting by incorporating mindfulness into the lives of practicing individuals. Breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation can help quiet down racing thoughts, anxiety, and external influences so that individuals can spend time in self-reflection. Although these techniques take time, many people may gain insight into what needs to be changed in their lives in order to find inner peace.
The Healing Power of Yoga
When it comes to addiction recovery, yoga is so much more than stretching. It helps repair damaged neuropathways, raises self-awareness, and promotes spiritual and emotional growth. As a practice of self-reflection, mindfulness, and overall wellness, yoga helps heal the mind, body, and soul that is ravaged by drug and alcohol addiction. When used simultaneously with traditional treatment methods, yoga can be a beneficial asset to those seeking to achieve long-term sobriety.
By Cassidy Webb
Cassidy Webb is an avid writer who works with JourneyPure to spread awareness around the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.
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