8 Ways Yoga Helps With Addiction Recovery
by Susan Treadway
Addiction is both physiological and psychological. As such, it is just as important to take care of yourself physically as it is to take care of yourself emotionally. Physical fitness of all types can help facilitate the recovery process. In addition to your recovery plan, try out some yoga. Here’s what yoga does for you.
1. Yoga reduces stress.
Going through addiction recovery can be a stressful experience. Stress, unfortunately, makes you more susceptible to relapse. However, yoga can help you alleviate and manage your stress. In the Journal of Nursing Research, a study found that yoga — Hatha yoga, in particular — reduced stress both immediately and in the long-term.
2. Yoga provides a spiritual environment
You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the spiritual and holistic benefits of yoga. Part of the spirituality of yoga is that yoga itself is a meditative act. The series of poses are meant to calm the body, and allows you to turn your attention inward and reflect on how you are feeling and what you are experiencing in the present moment.
3. Yoga gives you community
Next to the spirituality comes the community. Yoga is everywhere these days, and regardless of where you go, you’ll find a community. Your experience can be just as basic as taking comfort that someone is struggling with a pose as much as you are, or you can find strength in growing together. This helps people recovering from addiction. It’s easier to do something with someone, and it’s the same for overcoming difficulty.
4. Yoga helps you accept yourself
Overall, exercise helps us feel good. Exercise gives us endorphins, and endorphins make us happy. Yoga may not feel like exercise for some, but exercise can’t be boiled down to how much you sweat. Guiding your body into less natural poses or holding a plank for a long time strengthens your limbs. It can be difficult to do bridge pose when your neighbor is doing a full-on backbend, but know that yoga is meant to be done at your own level and at your own pace. Accepting your limitations gives you patience as you work on overcoming your addiction.
5. Yoga improves self-confidence
According to Psychology Today, yoga poses are better at boosting self-confidence than popular “power poses.” Increasing self-confidence is important during recovery, as addiction can bring shame and guilt. Even just a few key poses can make a difference.
6. Yoga makes you strong
If you hate going to the gym, yoga is a suitable alternative. Often, the poses will work different parts of the body, from the push-ups of sun salutations to knee-strengthening aspects of warrior poses. It may not give you bulk, but it will help prevent injury. The strength you develop will help your body heal from your previous addiction.
7. Yoga forces you to remain in the present and eliminates reactive traits
As previously mentioned, yoga is a meditative act. Typically, your instructor will be constantly reminding you to focus on your breath. Breathing is an important aspect of yoga practice, as it helps you through difficult poses and gives you something to focus on while moving through the poses. This helps you practice remaining in the present moment and not letting your mind wander. It’s called “practice” for a reason, which is why it’s important to make a habit of doing yoga.
8. Yoga helps with sleep and rejuvenation
After a session, yoga typically ends in savasana, or as it’s more colloquially known, “corpse pose.” The pose is exactly what it sounds like: you lying on the floor on your back with your eyes closed. Often, people will find themselves relaxed to the point of sleeping. Being able to sleep well is just as important as exercising.
Yoga has many benefits: reduced stress, confidence, strength, and an ability to accept oneself. While it will take time, consider trying out yoga to help you in addiction recovery. It won’t be easy, but it also allows you to set your own limitations, work from where you’re at, and grow from there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susan Treadway is an addict in recovery. She uses a holistic approach to sobriety to stay on a successful path and believes adopting even a few holistic methods can help anyone struggling with addiction.
She wants everyone to know that you don’t have to be a hippie to embrace holistic wellness – this concept is simply about focusing on your entire sense of well-being rather than just one part. She hopes her website, rehabholistics.com, will inspire anyone who has struggled with addiction to incorporate holistic practices into their own self-care routine.