Yoga For Addiction

Millions of Americans suffer from substance use disorders every year in the U.S. In the past, traditional programs at addiction treatment centers would focus on the body and mind. Yet, when clients would step out of the facility, they didn’t have the skills to remain sober. Yoga for addiction recovery instills the skills individuals need to maintain sobriety for life.

Yoga and addiction recovery work so well together because it gives clients an outlet for stress and frustration. Additionally, yoga gives individuals a new hobby that they can work on for the rest of their lives. These are just some of the many benefits of engaging in yoga during addiction recovery.


What Is Yoga? 

Yoga is the combination of movement, breathing techniques, and meditation to achieve overall health. By overall health, we’re referring to a sound body, mind, and spirit. 

Although yoga is a universal term that virtually everyone knows about, the practice dates back to 5,000 years ago. However, some researchers speculate that it might be 10,000 years ago. Long before yoga classes were even a concept, ancient people of the Indus valley would practice yoga to harmonize the mind, body, and spirit. 

yoga for addiction recovery

In fact, individuals would practice yoga as a form of religious enlightenment. The poses paired with breathing styles were meant to bring people closer to the universe itself. Today, the practice still holds true. 

What Is Yoga For Addiction Recovery? 

Truly any form of yoga can aid one’s recovery. One reason for this is that the spirit is a common theme within addiction treatment center programs. This is evident in the faith-based programs for addiction treatment and recovery such as A.A. Indeed, entrusting that sobriety can be a possibility because of a greater power, whatever that power may be, can be a source of inspiration. 

Yoga is a deeply spiritual practice that individuals can use to meditate upon their connection with the universe. That said, yoga in addiction recovery is also an alternative form of therapy for many people that are still in addiction treatment. Yoga can even be seen as just a form of self-care. Thus, those wishing to reap the benefits of yoga don’t need to be affiliated with any religion. 

Yoga helps people stay in shape while also regulating their stress as a moving form of meditation. There are many styles of yoga. For this reason, yoga is a great form of therapy for anyone of any age at an addiction treatment facility. 

Different Types Of Yoga For Addiction Recovery 

Because yoga has been around for so long, many ideations of it have developed over the years. Certain types of yoga may be better for some individuals than others. The more intense the form of yoga, the more it may be inappropriate for older individuals. However, each type of yoga can typically be altered to accommodate different types of people. 

Hatha Yoga

This form of yoga is one of the most common forms practiced today. It’s an umbrella term to describe any type of yoga with physical activity. 

Most programs at addiction treatment centers will likely use this form of yoga to facilitate the healing process. This is because Hatha yoga concentrates on breathing, exercise, and meditation. 

Unlike other forms of yoga, Hatha yoga uses static poses where they are held for a certain amount of breaths, or pranayamas. 

Some popular poses one might do in Hatha yoga include: 

  • Child’s pose 
  • Happy baby 
  • Downward-facing dog 
  • Tree pose 
  • Mountain pose 

Any of these poses can aid individuals in their flexibility as well as create a calm space in their minds. A session of Hatha yoga can last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour and a half. 

Bikram Yoga 

Bikram yoga is for those who would like a challenge. Instructors lead participants through the same 26 postures and two breathwork patterns in a room that is traditionally 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit. The practice of Bikram is a form of hot yoga (a practice that has been around long before Bikram yoga arose in the 1970s). 

Although the thought of doing yoga in a sauna-like setting may not sound relaxing or fun, it can be as you continue to practice. As it is quite hot in these yoga sessions, it’s best to bring lots of water and wear light, breathable clothing. 

Those who practice Bikram yoga for the first time should keep in mind that they can stop any time and take a break. Breathing through the nose during Bikram yoga can help steady one’s breathing.

Yin Yoga 

Unlike Bikram yoga, Yin yoga is gentle. Thus, it’s a well-suited form of yoga for older individuals. This is especially true since many older people struggle with substance use disorders in the United States and thus, may need a gentle form of yoga to use as an alternative form of addiction therapy. 

While Yin yoga as a form of treatment for addiction can be a powerful medium for change in those who are older, younger people can practice it as well. The moves that are done during Yin yoga aren’t strenuous and focus more on breathing and meditation than physical exercise. 

The Science Behind Yoga For Addiction Recovery 

The brain is an organ just like any other organ in the body. So, like any other organ, it can become imbalanced. 

When the brain has a chemical imbalance, it means in many cases that there are either too many or too few necessary neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters help regulate basic functions like sleep and help with good mental health as a whole. 

Many people that suffer from substance addictions also suffer from mental illnesses. When a person simultaneously suffers from a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, that person contains a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. 

Regular yoga practice can help treat co-occurring disorders over time by helping individuals regulate their emotions. This is because the amygdala, a portion of the brain that deals with memory formation (especially emotional memories) and is sometimes affected by addiction and mental illness, has less of a response to emotional stimuli after the consistent practice of yoga. 

Holistic Therapies To Compliment Yoga For Addiction Recovery 

Yoga is a type of experiential therapy. Experiential therapy as a whole allows individuals to enrich their lives through activities. In this way, people can mend the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds that were inflicted on them by substance use disorders. 

Expressive Writing Therapy 

Writing is a safe way to express difficult feelings. Not only does writing allow individuals to express their feelings, but it also allows them to cope with them positively. By expressing thoughts that may lead to cravings for drugs and alcohol if pent up, writing can help prevent relapse. 

Expressive writing therapy for addiction recovery uses prompts to guide individuals in their writing. Instructors can also help individuals meditate on their true feelings so that they can release any sentiment that doesn’t serve their recoveries. Writing even allows individuals to track their mental and emotional progress as they venture deeper into addiction recovery.

Fitness Therapy 

Yoga isn’t the only form of physical activity that can help with addiction recovery. Most types of physical activities can help people overcome substance use disorders. This is because physical activities cause the brain to release many of the same feel-good hormones that substance use does.

Thus fitness therapy gives people a natural high without having to use substances. In doing so, physical activities can even help boost the moods of individuals in addiction recovery. On top of the hormonal mood boost that individuals get when exercising, participating in fitness therapy can also boost people’s confidence as they get in better shape and get stronger, faster, or more flexible. 

Nutrition Therapy 

Yoga and addiction recovery can help the mind, body, and spirit. Still, full recovery wouldn’t be complete without incorporating nutrition therapy. 

People that struggle with substance use disorders likely have poor diets. This is because addiction removes the desire to do much of anything else except consume drugs or alcohol. Thus, it’s very common for individuals with substance use disorders to suffer from physical ailments and be malnourished. 

Nutrition therapy focuses on teaching addiction treatment patients how to use food as medicine. In short, nutrition therapy shows people in addiction treatment and recovery that certain foods can help repair the damage that was previously done to their bodies due to substance abuse.  

Nutrition therapy can even expedite recovery in many people that are recovering from addiction. In doing so, nutrition therapy can help people in addiction recovery commit to living healthier lifestyles as a whole. Diets full of leafy, green vegetables and colorful fruits provide the necessary vitamins humans need to sustain healthy brain and body functions. 

The Key To Recovery Believes In Yoga For Addiction Recovery 

Here at The Key to Recovery, we are firm believers in helping our clients achieve and maintain sobriety by any means possible. Part of this includes creating an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan for each client. 

While we offer our clients talk therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, we make sure that our clients engage with experiential forms of therapy as well. In doing so, our clients can leave our facility knowing that they have the tools to be able to overcome any addiction trigger. Contact us today to learn more about yoga and addiction recovery here at Key to Recovery in California and how it too can help provide individuals with coping tools to combat addiction triggers.

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