You may not think of yoga when you’re thinking about addiction recovery, but some people benefit greatly when combining yoga with the more traditional substance abuse treatments. In fact, many residential and outpatient programs now offer a more holistic approach to treatment, bringing in yoga teachers to offer classes to clients to aid in recovery.
According to Yoga Journal, yoga is an ancient technique that helps individuals connect with their breath, mind, and body in order to feel more peace and gain strength. It’s a form of exercise and meditation that works the muscles and the mind, involving stretching and deep breathing techniques. By breathing deeply, you relax your body, and by stretching your muscles and holding yoga poses, you strengthen your frame.
Yoga has been studied for many years by researchers and has been found to:
Yoga & The Brain
Those that abuse alcohol or drugs for long periods of time can suffer changes in the brain. The neural pathways are modified, and can negatively affect emotions, impulse control, and the ability to make sound decisions. In recovery, when an individual abstains from alcohol or drugs, the brain has the remarkable ability to begin healing itself. Yoga is a practice that can also help the brain heal.
There are many people in chronic pain who are taking prescription pain pills. Some of those people end up becoming addicted to them. While other drugs like suboxone or methadone can help them get off pain pills, yoga is a practice that may be able to help too. It may not remove the pain completely, but yoga participants report that the intensity of their pain decreases when they practice yoga regularly.
Chronic pain sufferers can end up experiencing emotional or mental stress due to pain. It can wear on them and make them feel miserable all the way around. Feeling such negative feelings, it’s easy to want to reach for more pills to numb the emotional pain. However, practicing yoga regularly may be able to help reduce the emotional or mental stress.
For those that have trouble sleeping, yoga can greatly improve your sleep. It’s best if you practice yoga regularly for several months, as just doing it every once in awhile, may not be that beneficial.
How can yoga help you sleep better? It can reduce anxious thoughts and feelings, which oftentimes are what keep you awake. Plenty of people struggle with sleep issues in early recovery, especially during the detox period. If you’re struggling to get some shut-eye, a regular yoga practice may help.
Consider taking a yoga class to try it out. If you cannot get to a yoga class, there are valuable yoga classes and tutorials on YouTube you can check out. Here are a few valuable yoga stretches that you can try out on your own.
Downward-Facing Dog. The downward-facing dog is a great yoga pose for helping you to feel stronger because it targets your lower back muscles that make standing and lifting much easier. Start by standing shoulder-width apart and slowly putting your arms in the air. Then, bend down without bending your knees too much until your hands are on the floor. Your hands and feet should both be on the floor and your knees and back should be straight, if possible. This will strengthen your back muscles, making it easier to stand for long periods of time.
Child’s pose. A child’s pose may seem like it will not do anything for helping to strengthen your back, but it has done wonders for those who allowed themselves to hold the position for enough time every day. Start on your hands and knees and slowly start leaning back until your butt muscles are just above your heels – like you’re kneeling. Then, slowly extend your arms further away on the floor until your back is straight and your legs are the same. You’ll be in a bowing position. The Child’s Pose is a great way to stretch those back and buttock muscles, which can especially help you if you have back issues.
Neckroll. The neck can carry some stress throughout the day, so it is important to work this area daily. Perform 3 to 5 neck rolls per day. Simply close those eyes, move your chin down toward the chest, roll your neck around slowly, while relaxing your shoulder muscles. You should feel your neck muscles stretching and relaxing at the same time.
Forward bend. For this stretch, simply sit in a chair facing away from your desk or table. Clasp your hands together behind your back by interlacing your fingers. As you bend forward, bring your arms upward so that you feel your back muscles being stretched. Take a deep breath as you do this. Repeat several times.
Spine twist. For this stretch, you will be twisting and stretching your back muscles. Sit sideways in your chair and with both hands grab hold of the back of the chair. Twist your waist to the right and then to the left, stretching both sides of your back. Repeat a few times.
Rub your temples. For this technique, place the palm of your hands on your temples and gently massage them in circles. As you do, take several deep breaths. This will help relieve tension that you have been carrying in your head.
The benefits of yoga are wonderful when you use it as part of an addiction recovery program. When you can focus inward and connect mind, body, and heart consistently, you’re more apt to experience more peaceful, joyful emotions and fewer cravings for harmful substances.
Yoga can be a helpful technique to help you on your recovery journey. If you’d like to know more about yoga or the addiction recovery process, give us a call. We’d love to assist you.