The popularity of yoga has increased significantly in recent years. The number of American adults practicing yoga doubled from 2002 to 2012. (1) It’s an effective alternative therapy option that helps heal the mind and body. When you are building a new life of well-being and emotional stability, yoga will help to improve both your physical and mental health.
One of the main principles of yoga is to get in touch with the sensations in the body and the emotions in the mind. Drug and alcohol abuse are frequently used to numb feelings. Yoga helps you stay sober when you develop awareness of what you’re feeling and use it to work through your impulses.
Yoga aids in the journey of sobriety by finding the spiritual connection between your soul and your physical being. For many, when this is disconnected, it’s a precursor to addiction or relapse.
Yoga can help in many areas to combat and help you heal from addiction. Here is a closer look at what yoga can do for you.
Controlling Thoughts and Cravings
When painful memories and fears occur, yoga helps you learn how to cope by seeing them simply as thoughts that you don’t act on. It teaches that you don’t have to act on urges or cravings either. Using mindfulness, you can help prevent negative thoughts and compulsions from turning into harmful actions.
Making Sober Friends
When you make yoga a part of your addiction treatment, carrying this with you during the transition into independent daily living provides opportunities to make friends in your yoga classes. Since one of the key factors in staying sober is to avoid friends who use or sell drugs, opening your social circle to include people in a yoga group conveniently gives you sober friends.
Endorphins and Natural Pain Relief
A form of yoga called kundalini focuses on deep-breathing patterns that help produce endorphins and activate the body’s natural pleasure centers. People have reported experiencing a “high” naturally. It’s important for people in recovery to avoid becoming addicted to this type of endorphin release, but for most, it’s a great way to feel good without using substances like drugs or alcohol (2).
If your addiction involved opiates or opioid painkillers and you need pain management, yoga is an effective drug-free way to manage pain. Many who took opioid medications developed a dependence inadvertently, and while rehab helps treat addiction, ways to manage pain may still be needed.
Yoga has been proven as an effective method to help manage pain. One study found that by regularly flexing and stretching into gentle yoga positions, you can reduce the amount of pain you are experiencing naturally (3).
Additional Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has been proven to offer the following benefits:
- Improve muscle strength
- Increase physical flexibility
- Improve lung and heart function
- Decrease stress and anxiety
- Alleviate depression
- Relieve chronic pain
- Improve sleep habits
- Enrich overall well-being and quality of life
Become a regular fixture in a yoga class, or make the commitment to do it on your own. Either way, yoga should be an important part of your addiction treatment plan.