If you have heard about yoga for addiction, you might be wondering what it is, what it can be used to treat, and how it works in a clinical setting. In this article, we will answer those questions so you can learn if a yoga therapy and mindfulness program may be beneficial to your individual needs.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a form of physical therapy, traditionally part of the Buddhist spiritual teachings but widely incorporated across many religions, faiths, and individuals. Yoga uses different physical poses with breathing techniques and meditation.
What is the Purpose of Yoga?
The purpose of yoga is to help you focus on the present. Your body holds onto the past in the form of physical scars, pain, or damage.
Your mind often focuses on the future, overcome with worry about what might happen, whether you will overcome your current struggles or get work done on time.
Yoga helps you bring your body and your mind into the present moment.
What Can Yoga Be Used to Treat?
The yoga of recovery is, first and foremost, physical exercise. Any type of physical activity can be extremely beneficial for someone in recovery. In fact, it’s an essential part of everyday life for everybody. Physical activity can help alleviate physical symptoms of pain, discomfort, cravings, muscle aches, and a multitude of withdrawal symptoms.
Yoga has been successfully used to improve educational performance, aid in recovery, and treat all manner of diseases, including:
- Non-specific lower back pain
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic and acute pain
- Stress disorders
- Erectile Dysfunction
Is There Yoga for Addiction?
Absolutely. Yoga for addiction, sometimes called yoga therapy for addiction or the yoga of recovery is one of the most effective holistic treatments to be used in conjunction with individual and group therapy.
Yoga and addiction work very well as a core part of your daily or weekly schedule during recovery. Yoga for addiction recovery can be used not just at a treatment center but incorporated into your daily schedule long after graduating from an inpatient or an outpatient program.
The reason yoga for addiction is so effective is that yoga teaches you to hold physical poses. As you hold those poses, you experience discomfort. But you learn to acknowledge the presence of that physical discomfort while breathing through the post, learning that the discomfort you experienced is temporary.
As you move seamlessly from one post to another, you experience relief from your physical discomfort in one part of the body and start to notice it in another. Still, yoga teaches you to be present in the moment and accept that discomfort because it won’t last forever.
Breathing and Meditation
Tangentially, as you move through beginner practices, yoga and addiction naturally incorporate meditation and breathing techniques. When we get stressed, scared, overwhelmed, or otherwise frightened, we tend to use what is called clavicular breathing. This is where we take short, shallow breaths that come from the clavicle or the top part of our chest.
Clavicular breathing stress has multiple systems within your body; it doesn’t give you a deep breath, doesn’t provide proper circulation, and exacerbates all negative feelings.
Yoga therapy for addiction forces you to apply basic breathing techniques, sometimes called pranayama techniques, where you breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale deeply through your mouth.
You learn to extend your inhalation and exhalation, pausing in between for a set number of seconds. You might breathe in for a count of four, hold it at the top for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. All of this helps you get much deeper breathing from your diaphragm, which works to calm down your central nervous system and your heart rate.
Many beginner yoga instructors will teach you to inhale and exhale with specific poses. So, each pose has an inhale for 2 seconds, and then an exhale for 2 seconds as you move into the next post, and so forth.
At the beginning and end of your yoga and addiction therapy, you might take time for self-reflection, and meditation, where you get to turn your attention inward and acknowledge whatever feelings arise at that moment.
How to Find Yoga Therapy for Addiction in Utah
Teaching you to befriend discomfort, pause and reflect during moments of meditation and deep breathing help you alleviate the severity of certain withdrawal symptoms, manage pain more effectively, and deal with the mental and physical aspects of things like cravings.
At Spirit Mountain Recovery, a Utah rehab center, we provide a mindfulness-based recovery program that helps you focus on the present moment and accept what is rather than what you want it to be or what it could be. We utilize the breathing and meditative aspects of yoga and addiction to give you a treatment that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. That level of awareness helps bring stability and emotional regulation during a critical point in your recovery.