Yoga has many benefits for many different types of health issues. Substance abuse and addiction recovery are a challenging thing to overcome. It requires you to look into why you became addicted which will often have to do with an emotional issue. There is also the body that becomes addicted to the substance. So it takes something like yoga and mindfulness to help combat addiction. Holistic practices that bring wholeness to a person is an important part of the overall addiction recovery program.
Yoga is a natural form of medicine that was developed long before there were medications to stop someone from using drugs. It should be used in conjunction with other types of therapy such as laughter therapy, behavioral and talk therapy.
Connecting to Yourself
Yoga promotes a connection to yourself which gives you get a greater sense of how you’re feeling. The postures allow you to connect with your mind and body. When triggers come up, you are more able to go to your higher state of consciousness. This is the part of your mind that can shut off the ego mind. The ego mind is what would instruct you to start using again. Many addictions cause the brain to crave the drug, and it will do everything it can to make you use again.
When you’re in touch with your higher self and learn to look within and up, you have far more control over things. If your past experiences include painful memories, you can see it for what it is. Going through addiction recovery can be less terrifying if you can identify your feelings.
Yoga helps you to Cope with Triggers
Yoga is helping with the following issues that addicts experience when going through withdrawal:
- Reduces the chance of relapse.
- Reduces the withdrawal symptoms that cause people to use again.
- Yoga is a wonderful outlet to help one deal with stress.
It is often the triggers in addiction that are the scariest part for an addict. Even when they aren’t triggered, they are in fear that it could come at any time. Triggers are a major cause of addicts relapsing. When they do occur through the senses, it can cause excitement and anxiety. This is where the breath taught in yoga can be advantageous. Breathing through a trigger helps the body to relax.
You heal at a cellular level
Chronic substance abuse that turns into addiction causes your brain to alter. Pathways that connect to the part of the brain that pleases you and allow you to make decisions change. Anxiety and sadness are common symptoms you may have to deal with when you abstain from drugs or alcohol. Yoga can help when these emotions arise because it does promote happiness. Certain poses can improve your mood and relax yourself can make you feel a little bit better. Any exercise has been shown to help your brain to start creating endorphins naturally once again. It will take some time, but it can speed up the process and heal your mind. Yoga also does a great job of relaxing you and reducing cortisol levels. You get a feeling of happiness with certain poses that can be quite rare at the beginning stages of recovery.
The reduction of anxiety
Most of the time, substance abuse recovery is going to cause anxiety. Research has shown that yoga, along with meditation and breathing will reduce stress. When you feel anxiety, your heart rate increase as well as your blood pressure. You will also notice that your breathing can become quick and shallow. Yoga regulates and balances stress hormones and increases GABA chemicals. GABA is a natural tranquilizer the brain releases when we are highly anxious and stressed out. This is important while you’re coping with life sober.
Addicts have many stories as to why they began using drugs or substances. Addiction is a disease with symptoms that are challenging to overcome. If you can love yourself, this small thing can help to stay off substances forever. Yoga has many poses that promote self-love. You become very tuned into your body which allows you to regulate your breathing. When you breathe deeply, you experience a sense of bliss as all that anxiety just floats away. As you do more yoga, you will begin to learn how to be aware of your own body. You befriend yourself and are less inclined to want to harm yourself again.
You experience self-awareness
Self-awareness needs to be honed. If you’ve been abusing substances, it’s likely you pushed that aspect of yourself away. If you had been fully aware of what you were doing to yourself, it would have probably caused you to use more to numb your reality. Addiction is very closely related to your emotions in many situations. People start using substances because they’re sad, afraid, don’t feel good about themselves, or have experienced something traumatic.
Whatever has occurred in your life, you need to acknowledge and accept it. This isn’t easy for some, and it can be a work in progress. Addiction recovery will include many different kinds of therapy to help an addict work through their emotions. Yoga helps you to open up to those emotions. You are more relaxed which allows you to take a moment and truly ask the body and mind what is going on inside.
When you use yoga as a part of an overall holistic healing program, it has shown to be extremely beneficial. You will feel better about yourself, and you heal the body and the mind at a cellular level. You will keep the body relaxed during times that are challenging which can help keep you from using again. If you want to help someone recover from an addiction, you should encourage them to try yoga. There is a power in the practice that goes far beyond stretching.
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Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential training in India (Rishikesh, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali). You can take a look at her website here.
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