Gone are the days when addiction recovery meant smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee with others after sharing stories of substance abuse. Today’s addiction recovery paints a different picture, with more people than ever turning toward safe and holistic means of overcoming their battles with substance abuse and compulsive behavior.
Successfully making it through the recovery process in the modern day and age often involves a closer look at what the individual needs on the level of mind, body, and soul. And just as yoga has made its way into mainstream Western culture, it’s also made a name for itself amongst many who are overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
The Benefits of Yoga for Addiction Recovery
The word yoga literally means “to unite” or “to be made whole”. Yoga works with different postures and the breath to bring a beautiful balance to mind, body, and soul. It helps calm the mind, while exercising the body. It slows things down and offers a connection to who you really are.
Incorporating yoga into your recovery plan has the power to change your life…if you let it. Following are some ways a regular yoga practice can positively assist when someone wants to end their addiction for good.
Yoga Offers Increased Peace of Mind and Wellbeing
Stress, anxiety, and depression are all common when trying to get over an addiction. Even people who aren’t addicts experience these emotions on a regular basis. Perhaps this is the reason yoga has become so popular in Western culture over the last few years. Because anyone who does yoga on a regular basis will tell you that these negative feelings begin to fade when you commit to a regular practice. Stress and anxiety are replaced with increased peace of mind and feelings of wellbeing that stay with a person long after their practice is over.
Yoga Helps You Control Your Reactions
If you’re overcoming addiction or know someone who is, you’re more than likely familiar with the emotional outbursts and reactions that are a completely normal part of the recovery process. Anger, agitation, and extreme emotional ups and downs are all typical when getting over an addiction. Not having any control over how you react to people and circumstances is normal, but it doesn’t have to stay your reality. Through the quiet, centered space that a regular yoga practice offers, you will learn that it’s you who controls your emotions and that it’s not your emotions controlling you. And once you can better control your emotions, the emotional triggers that drive the desire to use begin to diminish.
Yoga Puts You in Touch with YOU
There is something beautifully intimate about yoga. Where addiction is the ultimate escape mechanism, yoga is the opposite. Practicing yoga brings you face to face with the present moment…and your relationship to it. It offers self-acceptance for where you are in the present, as well as where you are when you step off the mat. You’ll find that the desire to escape through drugs and alcohol begins to diminish when you begin to get in touch with yourself through an hour-long yoga class a few times a week. And while it isn’t always easy to face that which we are trying to escape (especially when overcoming addiction), yoga has a gentle way of supporting us through even the most difficult emotions we’d rather not deal with.
Yoga Helps You Through the Suffering
The Eastern idea of addiction is one much different than the one held in the West. Rather than seeing addiction as a disease or ailment separate from a person, it is seen as part of the suffering that is a natural part of the human condition. This can be understood from a Western viewpoint in the idea that addiction is a byproduct of pain. Yoga helps you connect with and work through this internal pain and suffering, offering self-compassion, deeper understanding, and a better relationship to the present moment.
Yoga Changes Your Perspective on Reality
Where addiction disconnects us from the present, yoga puts us directly in touch with it. Substance abuse starves a person’s ability to come face to face with everyday reality. When yoga is introduced just a few days a week however, the way a person sees reality begins to change. The distorted perception from drug or alcohol abuse is replaced with a new way of interacting with the world. One that isn’t deceptive or unkind, but instead supportive and keeps a person grounded in the present moment.
Yoga shouldn’t be considered a complete treatment for addiction. When used in combination with a solid aftercare plan however, it can provide the connection to one’s self and the world around them necessary to sustain their sobriety and stand strong against the desire to use.
Yoga will take you to the edge and transform your life in ways you could never begin to imagine. There’s a reason it’s become so popular. It works. And it works like nothing else to offer the peace of mind countless people are struggling to attain by continuing down addiction’s dark road. Engaging in a regular yoga practice however, can truly guide you out of the darkness and into the light.