How Yoga Can Improve Mental and Physical Health in Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a complex disease that is difficult to understand if you’ve never experienced it yourself. Even if you do struggle with addiction, you may not fully understand where cravings come from, what your triggers are, or why you simply can’t control your substance use. Getting sober, on the other hand, involves a lot of reflection and introspection to get to the bottom of your addictive behaviors. One holistic and healthy activity that can help you gain self-awareness and achieve a healthy state of mind, body, and spirit is yoga.

If you’ve never done yoga before, it can be intimidating. Rest assured that yoga can be done at your own pace so you can experience the serene, calm, restorative state that yoga helps you achieve. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, you can start at the beginning and work your way up to more challenging poses. Better yet, once you’ve learned the basics of yoga, you can practice them wherever you are and experience all of the benefits yoga has to offer.

How is Yoga Used During Addiction Treatment?

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union.” This is fitting because yoga is a practice that aims to bring the mind, body, and spirit into harmony. Yoga, in practice, is an activity that combines physical postures, breathwork, mindfulness meditation, and physical activity. While it has been a famous practice in Eastern countries for centuries, it has recently gained widespread popularity in the United States.

Today, yoga is used in addiction treatment programs across the nation to help individuals achieve a healthy lifestyle. It may be used during all stages of the recovery process, including detox, residential treatment, and aftercare.

Certified yoga instructors facilitate yoga sessions for all types of people–ranging from beginners to experienced yogis. You will be instructed to focus on your breathing, hold specific postures, and listen to your body in a non-judgmental fashion.

When you focus all of your energy inward, you will gain tremendous self-awareness that can help you in virtually all aspects of your recovery. You will learn how to regulate your emotions and trust your bodily sensations and feelings. You will gain the mindfulness that helps you recognize cravings and allow them to pass without giving in to them. After several sessions, you may find you are better able to cope with uncomfortable feelings and situations because you are more mindful and self-aware.

Benefits of Using Yoga During Detox, Treatment, and Recovery

There are many ways you can benefit from incorporating yoga into your addiction treatment and recovery program.

During detox, yoga can help you achieve a relaxed state of mind. It can also promote blood flow and help reduce stress. The careful movements and postures you will be instructed to hold can help stretch your muscles to alleviate pain, stiffness, or soreness caused by withdrawal. Yoga also promotes the release of endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, that reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. These endorphins even help promote restful sleep. This means yoga can help alleviate symptoms of physical discomfort, psychological distress, and insomnia when used during detox.

The benefits of yoga don’t stop with detox, though. Throughout treatment and recovery, yoga can be used to treat depression and anxiety, alleviate drug cravings, and promote mindfulness. Yoga can teach you how to feel the sensations in your body, get in touch with your emotions and desires, and let troublesome feelings pass by without judgment. This practice can help you become more in-tune with your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Yoga can even help you develop a strong sense of impulse control, making it a powerful tool for relapse prevention.

How to Get Started With Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Many people who are in early recovery aren’t in the best financial situation, so it is not always practical to pay for professional yoga classes or for a one-on-one instructor. If you are curious about trying yoga but don’t want to spend money, you can simply check out YouTube. YouTube has many free yoga videos for all skill levels that you can follow along with.

As you become more interested in yoga, consider asking friends and family if they know of any yoga classes. Many cities and non-profits offer free or reduced-cost yoga classes on occasion, or you can find a yoga studio that suits your needs. After doing yoga regularly, you will quickly experience the mental and physical health benefits that come with it. Your cravings will be lessened and you’ll feel more empowered to continue on your sober journey.

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