November 14, 2013

Why Yoga Can Be An Important Part of Addiction Recovery. ~ Alicia Lawrence


In 2012, Yoga Journal released its Yoga in America market research study and found that more than 20 million people around the world practice yoga, a substantial increase from a 2008 study, that estimated slightly less than 16 million people participated in yoga.

Clearly, the practice is attracting attention. It’s also being used to assist particular groups, including individuals who are recovering from substance abuse.

Here are four reasons why yoga can be so helpful for people coping with recovery from addiction.

1. It targets detoxification on a deep level.

There are many methods people can use to gradually wean off of their substances of choice. In some cases, an initial detoxification can take place in less than a week, whether it occurs under supervision in a private residence or in an addiction treatment facility. However, people in recovery must also take steps to adopt beneficial activities to complement their new ways of life.

Yoga is a great option because it gently encourages people to develop higher levels of awareness and mental strength. Both of those characteristics can be extremely helpful in avoiding relapse because they empower people to tackle the self-defeating thoughts that often plague addicts. In that way, yoga brings detoxification to the mind.

2. It’s a non-intimidating way to get fit. 

Although the human body is surprisingly resilient, years of alcohol or drug abuse can take their toll and cause a person in recovery to realize it’s time to make physical fitness a priority. Because yoga can be adapted for several fitness levels, it’s ideal for people in recovery who need to start doing something to get in better shape, but don’t want to feel overwhelmed and embarrassed.

3. It restores balance to life.

When a person is caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, he or she may feel that life is spinning out of control. That problem can still persist despite getting treatment, because sometimes former drug or alcohol abusers don’t know how to stay occupied in therapeutic ways.

Yoga can bring balance to that common situation, because it gives participants a chance to feel accomplished after learning new moves and offers a productive way to spend time. If recovering addicts wait too long before finding something that lets them feel well-balanced and secure in substance-free lifestyles, they may be more prone to relapse.

4. It can promote healthier relationships.

Yoga is a pastime on the rise. For that reason, it could offer opportunities for people in recovery to form worthwhile relationships with individuals who also enjoy yoga. Recovering addicts often initially have trouble making new friends because it’s hard for them to find common ground with others.

Many community gymnasiums offer yoga classes, and some are free of charge. Even if a recovering addict has only been taking part in yoga for a very brief time, there should be several opportunities for reaching out to others. Because numerous poses are regularly practiced by both experienced and new yoga enthusiasts alike, beginners can often get friendly help from those who are more experienced.

Although several benefits of yoga for people who are coming out of dependency were covered here, there are many others. Once larger segments of the population discover how advantageous yoga can be for former substance abusers, it may soon become much more widely practiced in the addiction-recovery community.

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Assistant Editor: Kristina Peterson/Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: Jade Beall}

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Alicia Lawrence