Mindfulness practices have come to the forefront of mental health care in the past few years. Nature therapy, meditation, visualization, body scans and mindful eating have become daily practices for some.
Mindfulness exercises include any activity that focuses on the present moment. These practices help a person to grow in awareness of their surroundings and their own emotions and bodily state, accept experiences as they are and regulate reactions to the stimuli in their lives.
One of the most common mindfulness practices, while not a new practice, is yoga. The origins of yoga can be traced back over 5,000 years, and the peacefulness and wisdom that comes from this form of mental and physical exercise have many perks to offer, especially to those in recovery.
Is yoga therapy?
Yoga is a system of disciplines that can include spiritual rituals, but most often is modernized to a combination of stretching, positive self-affirmation and self-awareness and deep breathing techniques. These exercises can be modified for a wide range of abilities.
The diversity of yoga exercises, spanning from physically strenuous to beginner friendly, makes yoga difficult to study. While there is surely scientific proof for the benefits of yoga, yoga itself should not be considered therapy, or treatment for substance use issues.
Yoga therapy may be a supplemental intervention for a professionally designed treatment plan, however, the best treatment for mental health and substance use disorders will always be professional intervention through a medical treatment provider.
What are the benefits of yoga for addiction recovery?
Yoga and sobriety are a good match, and there are plenty of reasons why yoga can benefit your new lifestyle. Here are the top perks of engaging your body, mind and spirit in this relaxing method of movement.
Grow in control
Yoga is a whole-body practice, connecting the mind to the sensations of the body. While other mindfulness practices also connect you to the present moment through your senses, yoga in particular teaches self-control and self-disciples. As you progress from beginner’s moves to more difficult or longer exercises, you’ll find that you need to challenge your body and your mind.
Just as you learn in addiction treatment, you’ll find that your body and mind are often at odds. You may feel discomfort as you stretch yourself, but you’ll train your will to overcome the slight pain.
This type of control and mastery over your senses isn’t something that can be achieved overnight but takes effort and growth. You’ll find that the control you learn in yoga can easily be applied to fighting off triggers.
Prevent negative thoughts
A hallmark characteristic of struggling with addiction is harmful thought patterns. Cyclical negative thinking cycles perpetuate addiction and decimate a person’s self-perception, making it difficult to stay motivated.
One of the core practices of yoga is a focus on positive or neutral thinking. Yoga aims at noticing your thoughts, feelings and surroundings and balancing your reaction to them. For this reason, yoga and sobriety work well together, as yoga will teach you to channel positive thoughts in place of negative or self-deprecating ones.
Useful for coping
As you may have found through treatment already, in recovery you’ll need to develop a variety of coping mechanisms when tough times come. Coping mechanisms, or strategies, are practices that you can implement to reduce stress, manage triggers and prevent relapse.
Anything can be a coping strategy, from calling a friend to listening to a podcast to get your mind off the trigger. Many people in recovery find that some form of physical exercise is a useful coping strategy. Not only does exercise keep you busy, but it also releases endorphins, giving you a natural boost so you don’t have to chase a chemical high.
Like all physical exercise, yoga can boost your mood. The release of endorphins stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel more satisfied, relaxed and less anxious. If you find yourself feeling down, it’s important to identify that feeling and stop a potential trigger to relapse from surfacing.
Avoid seeking out drugs or alcohol by combatting negative moods with yoga. Yoga for addiction recovery, when it becomes a regular habit, can greatly reduce the number of triggers you face on a daily basis.
Make sober friends
Yoga for addiction recovery isn’t just for the body and mind, but for the social side of you, too. Individuals in recovery often struggle to adopt friend groups to support a sober lifestyle. Signing up for yoga classes is a great opportunity to meet people who prioritize health and find enjoyment in drug-free settings, like exercise.
When you’re exercising during the day, you’ll find that you’re able to sleep better at night. Sufficient and quality sleep can help you get ahead of the day and avoid the stress of fatigue. Poor sleep is setting you up for failure in addiction recovery, and if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, yoga may be the answer you’re looking for.
How can I start yoga therapy for recovery?
Yoga isn’t a cure for addiction, rather it’s an excellent supplement to professional treatment. Yoga can help you fight off cravings and daily triggers, boost your mood, improve your sleep and introduce you to a positive peer circle. At Silvermist, yoga therapy is one of the holistic treatment practices that we offer to help recover the mind and body.
Yoga and sobriety fit easily together in the lifestyle you’re longing for. To start creating the life you want, get in touch with Silvermist Recovery today.