People have been practicing yoga around the world for over 5,000 years! In fact, today, in the United States, over 11 million men and women practice this ancient tradition. The reason for its popularity and longevity is that yoga brings immense health benefits. Here are just a few:
- Increased flexibility
- Improved sleep
- Reduced back pain
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved concentration
- Reduced stress
- Improved posture
- Greater core strength
Yoga is a practice that calls for both physical and mental strength. It helps to connect body and mind so that they are aligned. Interestingly, addiction is a disease that affects both body and mind – particularly if your addiction was to alcohol or drugs. For instance, the mind feeds the addiction through its negative thinking, beliefs, denial, and growing psychological dependence. The body feeds the addiction through its own sort of dependence upon the substance. When you’re in recovery and if you were to include yoga into your life, you might immediately find healing for both the mind and the body, as well as the relationship between the two.
In essence, yoga is an opportunity to change. Whereas before you might have buried old and uncomfortable feelings through alcohol, yoga can help you feel those feelings. At the very least, deep breathing and a constant return to the present moment helps create an opportunity to pause before making destructive choices. Essentially, yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. Its healing effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
Yoga as an Alternative Therapy
Yoga is one of many alternative therapies that are becoming more and more popular. Many people are growing tired of allopathic medicine because it isn’t always holistic. Yoga, and many other alternative forms of treatment can not only treat the entire body, but they can also prevent illness. In fact, for this reason, many addiction treatment centers are beginning to include yoga, meditation, and other alternative healing modalities into their treatment program.
Typically, in the past, drug treatment focused on the mind and the negative thinking patterns, beliefs, and choices that one made. In order to heal this, the treatment choice was often a strong encouragement towards religious practice. This was done as a means to change the mind. Of course, drug treatment always included detox and so it addressed the needs of the body too. However, yoga and other forms of treatment can treat both the body and the mind. Furthermore, yoga continues to bring healing effects long after detox is complete. In fact, yoga is an excellent form of drug treatment aftercare. Once your drug treatment is done, yoga is a practice that can keep you in a healthy frame of mind.
Helping Release the Grip of Addiction
Most importantly, yoga can help release the grip of addiction. It does this primarily by helping to create space between a thought and your reaction to that thought. For instance, if you have the thought, “I’m no good,” it’s very likely that uncomfortable feelings about yourself along with addiction negative thoughts will continue to arise. In the end, it would lead you to drinking that night. However, slowly, a yoga practice can help your mind slow down. You can create a bit of space between the thought and the way that you respond to that thought. Instead of believing in the thought which might cause you to drink or use drugs, you might get curious about the thought. Why is it showing up now? What is this thought saying about what I’m doing right now?
Yoga, of course, isn’t therapy. But it is certainly therapeutic. It can slow you down, bring a sense of peace, and invite more patience and self-love. Yoga can also improve your self-acceptance. For instance, when you’re in the middle of a difficult pose, and you’re challenged by it, instead of pulling out of the pose, you hang with it. You endure the discomfort and challenge. Similarly, in life, instead of reaching for a drink or drugs when uncomfortable feelings or thoughts arise, you endure it. You stick with it and simply let it pass.
Yoga is a great practice for healing for addiction. If you’re interested in trying it out, there’s a very good chance there’s a yoga studio near you. If you like it, incorporate it into your life and let it boost your recovery!