There are many things to which a person can become addicted. Although alcohol is definitely the most widely available and abused substance, there are a number of dangerous street drugs and even behaviors that have a destructive influence on one’s life. When a person become dependent on drugs, in particular, he or she begins to exhibit some of the effects that are characteristic of someone with an addiction. For instance, the individual becomes emotionally withdrawn from family and friends, seems emotionally volatile or unpredictable much of the time, tends to never show up on time, and becomes defensive when asked about his or her activities. Additionally, the body is deteriorating much like the mind and behavior, causing a budding addict to experience a significantly weakened immune system and risking damage to many bodily systems, functions, and organs.
Despite the all-consuming nature of alcoholism and drug addiction, recovery is both possible and attainable. In recent years as we’ve developed a more enlightened understanding of addiction, we’ve developed a number of evidence-based, high-quality addiction treatments and therapies that address the specific effects of addiction, affording individuals who are in the throes of active addiction a means of regaining their health and independence; however, each addict’s needs are different, which means that the curriculum that best addresses one individual’s needs won’t necessarily be the optimal choice for others. As such, most rehabs offer a wide variety of treatments with which individuals can personalize their recovery programming. Moreover, recently there has been an increasing interest in alternative and holistic therapies for addiction, which many feel can address a wider variety of needs. Yoga is one such holistic or alternative treatment technique that’s become popular in recent years, but those who aren’t familiar with addiction recovery might be unsure of what yoga has to over the process. As such, the following will define yoga, describing its health benefits while also detailing how it can be beneficial to the addiction recovery process.
What Exactly is Yoga?
When most people hear the word “yoga”, they imagine the odd movements that practicing yogis make, perhaps while chanting and speaking a lot of New Age jargon. While there are some very specific movements involved in practicing yoga, it’s more than seemingly impossible body twists. The actual word “yoga” has been in use for thousands of years and is thought to have originally been used to refer to the union of body, mind, and spirit. Meditation is the more well-known and accessible means of achieving this union, but it’s often the case that a person who is about to meditate feels the need to prepare the body for meditation by stretching, improving one’s physical strength and balance, becoming more flexible, and increasing physical awareness of one’s body. In fact, this is the original purpose of yoga, which is also known as asana in some cultures.
At a glance, yoga would appear to be an activity that’s merely intended to enhance one’s flexibility, but there are a number of other benefits to practicing yoga, both physical and otherwise. Symbolizing the mind-body-spirit nature of yoga, practicing this art form is intended to enhance one’s core strength and flexibility through the performance of certain movements, poses, and postures. Yoga is usually practiced very slow and deliberately, making it a favorite of health enthusiasts who seek low-intensity activities that also offer a number of health benefits. Because it’s practiced slow, one can be more aware of the sensations that occur throughout the body as a result of certain movements. This is meant to instill an enhanced sense of physical awareness and is also seen as a crucial part of the unification of body, mind, and spirit. Additionally, practicing slowly ensures that one can sustain stamina for a longer period of time and allows for faster mastery of the various poses.
How Yoga Can Be Beneficial to Addiction Recovery
There are numerous ways to achieve sustainable sobriety; however, twelve-step support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have been incredibly helpful to millions of addicts who use the twelve-step method to overcome addiction. It’s often said that what appeals to many individuals about twelve-step recovery is the spiritual emphasis of the Twelve Steps, which could also be said about yoga. Although one can certainly benefit from yoga without being a spiritual person, there’s undoubtedly a spiritual component to the practice of yoga, especially when it’s combined with meditation as is often the case in yoga classes and in the therapeutic use of yoga.
It’s been suggested that addiction occurs due to a person’s seeking spiritual fulfillment from an external source like alcohol or drugs rather than from within. In other words, many individuals use substance abuse to fill a spiritual void or to allow them to reprieve from a lack of meaning and fulfillment in life. One of the best benefits of yoga for addiction recovery is that it allows individuals to better control their emotions and cope with things like stress and hardship by using yoga as an outlet. It’s also a practice through which many unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and energies can be liberated through movement, stretching, strength training, and meditation. Overall, yoga has shown to instill a more positive outlook and provide individuals with a healthy, effective coping strategy as they continue in the recovery journey.
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