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Yoga for addiction recovery

Published On: 08-18-2015 in Category: Addiction, Exercise, Recovery, Yoga


Yoga practices can be meditative and relaxing, promoting overall mental and physical health. A recent movement incorporating yoga in addiction recovery harnesses these positive effects on the mind and body to aid individuals struggling with substance abuse or behavioral addictions. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) promotes the use of yoga as a means of treating addiction, when used in tandem with traditional therapy. Through practicing awareness of the body and living in the present moment, many individuals can benefit from including yoga in their recovery plans.

NCADD notes that individuals struggling with addiction often feel uncomfortable with their emotions and look for unhealthy substances or behaviors to cope. Yoga teaches alternative, healthy coping skills that incorporate mindfulness, having the potential to break long-standing patterns of addiction in those open to the practice. Hatha yoga is often used in recovery programs and includes exercise movements, called asanas, and breathing exercises, called pranayama. This form of yoga is believed to improve functioning in the central nervous system and endocrine system. In some cases, yoga can actually increase anxiety for individuals in recovery from substance abuse, behavioral addictions or other mental health disorders. Just as uncomfortable emotions come up in traditional therapy, individuals who exhibit these anxious feelings around yoga are invited to explore why these feelings arise and how they can be managed using healthy coping skills.

Former crack cocaine addict Tommy Rosen is one of the many yoga practitioners who has advocated for yoga in recovery settings to supplement 12-step programs. Typical 12-step programs for substance abuse or behavioral addictions include spiritual components. However, there is little focus on holistic practices that can aid the physical restoration that comes with recovery. For instance, Rosen encourages Vinyasa yoga to establish a physical foundation and posture for the recovering addict. This posture, he explains, will combat the tendency individuals going through emotional times have to hunch over and use their shoulders to cover or protect the heart. In this case, yoga can be used to encourage openness and healing, both physically and mentally.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse issues, yoga can be a helpful coping tool used to manage any overwhelming thoughts or feelings that surface during recovery. Contact the Pasadena Drug Treatment Rehab Center to speak with a professional about your treatment options and recovery plan today.

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