Does Yoga Really Boost Recovery from Addiction?
Recovering from an addiction is a lot more than simply quitting a drug. Addicts look for ways to build and strengthen their recoveries while occupying their time and energy with new pursuits.
And yoga is a lot more than an exercise. It offers physical benefits but also opportunities for social and psychological development. Although not an addiction treatment on its own, the challenges and benefits of a yoga practice reflect and support the experience of addiction recovery.
Life on the Mat
Before an addict finally gets help, a large part of his daily time and energy may be committed to his addiction. Filling the void left by drugs and the culture of drug use, can be a tremendous aid to success.
Yoga as a hobby, either new or rediscovered, can be part of this effort. Even more than most exercises, yoga offers a world of ideas and philosophies to explore even when not actively working on the mat.
Those new to yoga often discover a welcoming local community of practitioners and teachers. The best yoga studios and classes are supportive environments. Social connections made in the yoga community can help displace connections to drug using peers left behind in recovery. Yoga may even bring recovering addicts together informally or in yoga retreats or classes geared toward addiction recovery.
Yoga Does It Better Than Drugs
Even though drug use was destructive overall, it often fulfilled some kind of function in an addict’s life. Yoga can strengthen recovery by taking the place of drugs. These functions may include:
- Stress management – Yoga both exercises and relaxes the body and helps to relieve stress.
- Helps with comorbid conditions – Mood disorders, like anxiety and depression, can contribute to drug problems. Yoga can help control them.
- Feeling good – Many kinds of yoga practice stimulate the body to release endorphins. These natural chemicals create a feeling of well-being that can be as strong as that created by drugs but without the low feeling that follows drug highs.
Unlike drug use, yoga is a sustainable practice. The energy and attention invested in the practice is returned through health and well-being.
Complementing the Work of Recovery
Anyone practicing yoga while working on addiction recovery may notice many similar elements, patterns or principles. These may include:
- Holistic scope – No part of the body is left out of yoga. Similarly, addiction treatment considers the whole person. The promotion of healing is a goal in both sides.
- Impulse control – Addicts learn to resist or redirect the urge to use drugs again. Yoga teachers teach tolerance or patience to maintain difficult poses despite the impulse to stop.
- A practice, not a cure – Yoga is a continuous journey toward a stronger and more beneficial practice. Likewise, addiction recovery is developed and tended to keep it strong. There is no destination in either endeavor which signals an end to the practice.
Addicts can expect some amount of crossover benefit from a complementary yoga practice.
If you or a friend are looking for ways to boost recovery or even get started in rehab, call our toll-free helpline to learn more about addiction recovery. Addiction coordinators are available 24 hours a day.