Yoga for Recovering Addicts

Research has stated that yoga and other mindfulness techniques should be used in conjunction with addiction treatment to help patients overcome substance use disorders and mental illness. A significant aspect of addiction recovery is to develop self-confidence and self-reliance. These traits are often coupled and compliment well with yoga. 

The art of yoga encourages the individual to be present at the moment and to focus on their current strengths. 

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a set of mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines that are intended to help improve one’s mood and sense of well-being. Those who practice it will use body posture, stretching techniques, and breathing modulations to help promote relaxation, physical strength, and spirituality.

Yoga is a mindful physical activity that helps individuals deal with stress, and is especially vital for individuals involved in addiction and recovery. Yoga uses mental and physical techniques to target the part of the brain that was affected by a substance use disorder and helps to reduce drug cravings. Yoga for recovering addicts is a very effective added tool during and beyond therapy.

Yoga is a health practice that is known as a natural form (holistic) of medicine. Yoga is most beneficial when it was combined with other traditional substance abuse treatment programs.

Practicing yoga has many potential benefits which include:

  • Increased energy 
  • Emotional healing
  • Stress relief
  • Pain relief
  • Better sleep
  • Heightened self-confidence
  • Increased physical strength
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Healthier eating habits
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Emotional healing
  • Health and wellness improvement

Yoga for recovering addicts is consistently being practiced in substance abuse treatment programs. Yoga can help patients throughout recovery to help reduce withdrawal and cravings, prevent relapse, and allow and healthy outlet to help cope with triggers and everyday stress.

Common Types of Yoga

Yoga is used to alleviate physical ailments, achieve spiritual enlightenment, and reduce psychological pain. Although yoga is based on spirituality, many Americans who practice usually do it to reduce stress or as a form of exercise.

Various forms of yoga exist, which include:

BHAKTI- This is a spiritual form of yoga that focuses on devoting love through mantra meditation to a higher power.

HATHA- This being the more common form of yoga in the US, the procedure involves meditation and posture exercises. These exercises are aimed to heal the mind, body, and soul through breathing techniques and poses.

JNANA- This form of yoga will use meditation to seek self-realization and wisdom. The exercise employs mental techniques like self-questioning, self-reflection, and conscious illumination.

KARMA- This form of yoga will strive to reduce ego and illuminate self-centeredness. Forming through various body movements will help individuals learn to detach themselves from their actions.

BIKRAM- This form will compromise a series of 26 physically demanding poses. The mission of this activity, which takes place in a heated room of 100 degrees, is to cleanse the body through sweating and help release tension.

Yoga Can Help With Overcoming Addiction

Multiple studies have suggested that mindful activities, like yoga, helps people overcome substance addiction when coupled with traditional treatment. The effect of yoga and meditation on the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain has been thought of as a top reason why.

A study conducted in Sweden had shown a group of individuals who were battling alcohol dependence and had received traditional treatment versus traditional treatment plus yoga. The results had shown there was more reduction in drinking among the group that had combined yoga with their treatment.

Yoga has also been recommended to help individuals with heroin addiction. Other studies have indicated that female heroin users who had undergone drug detox found that practicing yoga had significantly improved their mood and overall quality of life afterward. Through research, it had been concluded that yoga does fit alongside heroin addiction treatment.

How Yoga Affects Brain Function

It has been stated that people with addiction issues might not have cerebral balance, which causes them to curve their focus on their drug cravings. Consistent dedication to yoga can help patients refocus and concentrate on mindfulness as opposed to immediate physical desire.

Yoga to Increase GABA 

It has also been stated that practicing yoga techniques will help increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is described as a natural tranquilizer chemical that is produced by the brain to assist with stress response and anxiety. Elevated levels of GABA will result in lessening the levels of stress and anxiety. Depression, stress, and anxiety are typical withdrawal symptoms, and yoga for recovering addicts can help to alleviate them.

The practice of yoga has been used for an extended duration of time to help alleviate stress. Scientific evidence has even studied and supported that yoga helps reduce stress. More specifically, practicing yoga will help reduce tension by the modulation of the stress response. Stress causes blood pressure, rapid heart rate, respiration, and increased body temperature. Stress comes from hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Yoga helps in regulating and balancing those hormones.

The connection between reduced stress and practicing yoga is clear. Yoga does not only serve as an excellent way to exercise but also to build mental strength in the process dually.

The Medical Benefits of Yoga

Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven that yoga improves health, researchers do believe it releases endorphins, the brain chemical that controls pain and pleasure. 

Some other benefits of practicing yoga include:

  • Lowered resting heart rate
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased immunity
  • Improved balance
  • Improved bone density

Yoga participants could also experience psychological benefits by helping to improve self-worth, diminish anger, and increase self-confidence and compassion. Yoga for recovering addicts has also been known to help individuals with mental health issues. 

Yoga and Mental Health Disorders

Yoga has been known to help individuals deal with their mental health disorders, which often co-occur with substance abuse and addiction. This is especially true for individuals who experience post-traumatic stress disorder; they are at a higher risk of using drugs. 

A study found that yoga therapy had also helped individuals with PTSD in reducing their drug and alcohol intake. Yoga has also promoted health and dedication during other treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Researchers had done a study on the effect of yoga practiced by individuals with substance use behaviors and PTSD. The researchers had modified a few poses and added some trauma-sensitive yoga techniques which had eschewed physical contact. In the end, over 90 percent of the group who practiced yoga stated their PTSD symptoms had become less noticeable, and they had become more aware of their symptoms.    

Benefits of Yoga Combined With Recovery

Practicing yoga will serve as an excellent recovery tool and coping mechanism for stressful feelings. Yoga gives the ability and power to help individuals heal their mind and body through therapeutic physical activity. 

A few of the multiple benefits of yoga for recovering addicts will include:

  • Physical benefits- At the end of each yoga class, individuals find themselves feeling more flexible and stronger. Aches and pains as a result of substance withdrawal will also start to alleviate.
  • Lower stress benefits- Through gentle movements and relaxed breathing exercises, individuals find that their nerves have calmed down. As a result, practicing yoga will help reduce cravings and can treat trauma and psychological distress in regards to addiction.
  • Emotional benefits- A majority of individuals who practice yoga feel they have greater peace of mind. As a result, individuals can become in tune with their new sober and healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Increased self-discipline- Addiction is an overwhelming challenge for individuals to navigate alone. Learning how to say no is a discipline that yoga could help you achieve. Yoga is a practice that’ll consistently require discipline, and also will help develop the traits within yourself.
  • Inner Peace- Yoga’s spiritual benefits provide individuals with a tremendous amount of inner peace. Because of the medical practics in yoga, individuals can connect to a deeper part of themselves, as well as the world surrounding them.

Yoga as Holistic Therapy For Addiction Treatment

Holistic treatment is a non-medical form of treatment that helps in assisting with the more traditional addiction treatment process. More popular types of holistic therapy will include yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture.

Practicing yoga as a form of holistic treatment for addiction is a growingly common exercise that has changed the recovery process in rehab centers across the nation. Yoga for recovering addicts will help balance the body and mind through physical exercise, which involves postures and concentrated breathing. Additionally, to the physical aspects of yoga, there is also a great number of emotional benefits as well. 

Studying and practicing yoga for recovering addicts will help patients become in tune with their bodies while learning calming techniques like controlled breathing. Yoga encourages how to appreciate the present moment and having a sense of self-awareness. When focusing all energy inward, the benefit is gaining deeper ownership and understanding of personal emotions. 

Holistic therapies like yoga help to assist in the overall recovery process. Yoga helps to enhance the individual’s recovery experience and arms them with the tools needed to live a healthier lifestyle that promotes sobriety.

Using yoga holistic therapy methods will help to introduce new solutions in solving old problems. Practicing yoga for recovering addicts will help create healthy thoughts and practices in the replacement of unhealthy habits. Combining yoga with medical assistance, counseling, sobriety groups, and prescriptions are useful tools to help patients fighting addiction and promoting recovery.

Combining yoga, as a holistic approach to treatment, will provide benefits that other traditional therapies do not which include:

  • Better relationship with mind and body
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Motivation to complete addiction therapy
  • Relief from mental and physical withdrawal symptoms
  • More balanced emotions
  • Healthier eating habits which reduce the neurochemical imbalance 
  • Renewed spirituality
  • Reducing toxins that contribute to drug cravings

Although holistic therapies like yoga do provide many benefits through the recovery process, these therapies will be most successful when used in combination with evidence-based treatment to maximize the chances of lifelong sobriety.

Yoga Incorporated With Recovery

Patients in recovery will deal with many different emotions, including stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that stress could trigger a relapse in people who are recovering from substance abuse, especially alcohol addiction. However, yoga has been shown to help ease the tension and help addicts to deal with triggers.

Footprints to Recovery offers yoga programs for individuals who are struggling with substance abuse. The multiple forms of yoga will incorporate meditation, breathing techniques, and movement to help individuals reach a relaxed and mindful state.

Yoga should be incorporated as a daily routine for recovering addicts in recovery, especially in the early phase. Yoga is most useful for patients in recovery when they combine it with their regular therapy sessions like 12 step meetings.

Get Help Today

Our team at Footprints to Recovery will customize a program to help serve patients with various health disorders, including substance addiction. Our organization creates a safe environment where trauma can be released, and healing is supported.

Yoga for recovering addicts is a beautiful and powerful way for patients to ease their way through the recovery process while gaining the peace of mind needed to beat addiction. To understand more about the benefits of yoga and how it can help the treatment process, please contact our team at Footprints to Recovery today.

Trusted & Approved Addiction Treatment Centers

Helo Icon

The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) is a nonprofit professional society designed to offer support to organizations across the continuum of care. Since 1978, it has extended resources, advocacy and thought leadership to its members.

Helo Icon

The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHCO) evaluates quality of care provided by healthcare organizations. Footprints has the Gold Seal of Approval, which means we possess the highest standard of safety and quality of care.

LegitScript is a third-party certification that confirms that Footprints follows all applicable laws and regulations. It shows that our company has been vetted and that we demonstrate an ongoing commitment to integrity and transparency.