Many addictions begin as a coping mechanism or a way of filling a spiritual void. As a result, people in treatment for addiction must learn to deal with their emotions and environment in healthier ways. Practicing yoga is an excellent complement to conventional chemical dependency treatment. A 12-step program and the eight-fold path of yoga both emphasize truth, meditation, surrendering to a higher power, and developing self-awareness, while healing body, mind, and spirit.
Heals the Mind
Stanford University Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Roy King, Ph.D., M.D., has studied the biological impact of yoga on drug abuse. He has noted the correlation between yoga and its ability to inhibit the dopamine surge that addicts get from using – and sometimes the cravings they feel just even thinking about taking drugs. Additionally, King has found that the intense breathing patterns in forms of yoga, such as Kundalini, release the body’s natural pleasure-producing endorphins. This means a healthy yoga practice can replace suppress addictive behaviors while restoring the brain’s dopamine functions to healthier levels.
Stressful situations can trigger addictive behavior and cravings. Just getting used to living a sober life can be very stressful. Because yoga emphasizes willpower and stress-reduction, those in recovery can learn to combat that stress, better combat temptation, and regain control over their bodies.
The different types of yoga have different intensity levels, allowing a person to choose what works best for him or her. Yin yoga is very meditative and emphasizes passive stretching. Vinyasa yogas are quicker practices, where you flow through poses to build strength. Bikram yoga is practiced in hot rooms in order to sweat out toxins. There are many types of yoga practices, even laughing yoga. To find one right for you, try out free classes at a local studio.
Yoga provides a spiritual environment, no matter your religious beliefs. Learning to slow down, mindfulness and acceptance are central to yoga and a healthy spirit. Regularly setting aside time for growth will help you focus on recovery and a healthy lifestyle. In addition, yoga communities will help you build sangha- a healthy community of friends.
Recovery is a long – often very difficult – process. By incorporating yoga into their recovery practice, people can learn new tools to release stress and connect into their inner strengths. Your yoga practice can be a part of an organization, or a daily 5 minute routine. Whatever works best for you, incorporating yoga into your practice will heal body, mind, and spirit.