Yoga is a time-honored tradition, dating back nearly 5,000 years to early India. While the practice of yoga has evolved over the years, there is one thing that has helped it maintain its popularity and relevance through the centuries: the mind, body, spirit connection. Yoga is about so much more than just twisting your body into a variety of poses.
In fact, yoga has earned itself an important role in the addiction treatment space, especially when paired with other holistic and clinical practices.
Yoga as a Mindfulness Practice
There are two primary types of addictions: physical and psychological. Many conventional clinical therapies for addiction treatment focus on one of these two parts of the addiction. However, mindfulness practices like yoga are different, because they incorporate both and can contain an element of spiritual recovery, as well.
Mindfulness places a strong focus on living in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or feeling anxiety for the future. When practicing yoga, the same sentiment applies. You focus on your breathing and how it informs your movements, making you connect to your body and your mind.
With enough practice, many people begin to feel the “flow” of yoga, tuning into themselves and learning how to be more present.
Spirituality Through Yoga
For many people, an important component of recovery is spirituality. This does not have to be a belief in God or an established religion. Instead, spirituality revolves around finding meaning in life and recognizing a higher power, regardless of what it is.
Yoga is also a heavily spiritual practice, encouraging connection with the universe through connection with oneself. In fact, the word “yoga” means “union.” It inspires connectedness, which can be a critical missing piece for people who experience addiction.
How Yoga Can Help with Addiction
People with a variety of mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, and trauma, find that yoga improves symptoms and makes it possible to live a more comfortable life. These three mental illnesses also frequently co-occur alongside addiction, causing one to feed off the other.
When you begin focusing on addressing mental health issues along with addiction, you can begin healing more fully. Below are a few ways in which yoga helps to treat mental illness:
- Activates parasympathetic nervous system, improving mood and relaxation
- Increases GABAs, neurotransmitters that are often low in individuals with addictions
- Disrupts the neural pathways that can lead to drug abuse and addiction
- Increases self-awareness and concentration, which can help improve decision-making and reduce impulsivity
In addition, when practicing yoga, you focus closely on breathing techniques, learning to breathe deeply and relax. This helps to open up more space in the mind to think clearly while calming the nervous system.
Yoga as Part of a Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Program
A quality addiction treatment program addresses a person as a whole, rather than focusing on just one part of the addiction. This type of treatment allows people to truly begin healing and begin taking steps towards a life they can love and feel proud of.
In addition to yoga, other holistic treatments like mindfulness, metaphysical energy work, and neurofeedback can play a role in improving the mind, body, soul connection of people dealing with addictions.
Clinical and traditional therapies have a part to play as well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and group therapy are all important on the journey to lifelong sobriety.
At RAIN Recovery, we believe in creating a personalized treatment program for every client who walks through our doors. If you or a loved one is currently dealing with substance abuse disorder, help is available. Reach out to RAIN Recovery today to speak to an admissions counselor: 818-208-9446.