Yoga and Mindfulness for Recovery
Mindfulness and yoga are just a few of the ways people incorporate self-care practices into recovery. Yoga is both exercise and mindfulness. Yoga and mindfulness is about calming the mind, focusing on energy, and reducing anxiety and depression. Mind-body practices have been shown to help aid in the recovery and healing of physical ailments, as well. In recovery from a substance use disorder, there are key things to consider when looking at ways yoga and mindfulness can be supportive self-care practices.
Self Care isn’t Selfish
When you think of “self-care,” going on vacation or getting a massage probably come to mind. However, they are just one part of self-care. Self-care is actually taking care of your physical and mental health on a daily basis so that you can feel and perform your best. This is particularly crucial when you are in recovery for substance use disorders, which are often referred to as addictions.
Yoga – The Natural Path to Meditation
Yoga is also a natural pathway to meditation, a supremely helpful tool in recovery. Many people in recovery are challenged by the notion that they can reach a transcendental state or escape from their demons through the power of their own mind alone without substances, but yoga is a teacher that shows a person how to sit quietly and calmly with their thoughts, empty their minds, and just be.
Stress Reduction from Yoga and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a crucial practice for people who are stressed and studies have shown that yoga reduces stress and anxiety. These triggers for substance use give pause for people to be aware of problematic situations and relax their stress response. With mindfulness, they are better able to notice emotions and make room for them. Taking a second to be aware of feelings, thoughts, and experiences without judgment can aid in mindfulness practices. Mindfulness is about decreasing the pressure on a person’s own ability to handle their recovery and putting the focus on calm, thoughtful awareness in the present.
What Does Mindfulness Involve?
Skills taught in mindfulness include:
- Observation: Paying close attention to what is going on around you
- Description: Being able to say what happened and how you felt in words
- Participation: Becoming involved in an activity without being self-conscious about it
- Taking a Non-Judgmental Stance: Accepting things as they are rather than judging them
- Focusing on One Thing in the Moment: Without distraction from other ideas or events
- Effectiveness: Doing what works rather than second-guessing yourself
Find Your Inner Strength and Resilience
Addiction can lead to a sense of lack or emptiness, which individuals may try to fill with drugs or alcohol. Yoga can help individuals overcome this sense of lack by promoting self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Through regular practice, individuals can learn to connect with their inner selves and cultivate a sense of wholeness.
In yoga, there is an emphasis on mindfulness, which involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can learn to let go of negative self-talk and self-criticism, which can contribute to a sense of lack. Yoga also encourages individuals to cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for their bodies, which can help them develop a more positive self-image.
Medical Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness
Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven that yoga improves health, researchers do believe it releases endorphins, the brain chemical that controls pain and pleasure.
Some other benefits of practicing yoga include:
- Lowered resting heart rate
- Decreased pain
- Increased immunity
- Improved balance
- Improved bone density
Yoga participants could also experience psychological benefits by helping to improve self-worth, diminish anger, and increase self-confidence and compassion. Yoga for recovering addicts has also been known to help individuals with mental health issues.
Mindful breathing requires a person to observe their own breathing and pay attention to each inhale and exhale. Nair introduced several ways to practice mindful breathing.
A body scan requires a person to bring attention and awareness to each part of the body in an upward motion from the feet to the head.
Witkiewitz played a significant role in helping to develop the SOBER space exercise,
which centers on slowly coming into the moment, focusing on the body and observing breathing.
- Find an area to meditate in. This could be on a park bench, in a quiet room, on the bus with headphones on or anywhere you have an opportunity to sit with your thoughts.
- S — Stop whatever action you’re about to do in a triggering moment.
- O — Observe the breaths and body sensations; drop into the body.
- B — Breathe, bring awareness to your breath, and pay attention as you inhale and exhale.
- E — Expand awareness, recognizing you’re a body in this room, in this situation.
- R — Respond mindfully. Come into the present moment and respond with some choice of how you want to respond in that situation.
Get Help Today – Yoga and Mindfulness with Little Creek
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, Little Creek Lodge may be able to help. We offer a number of holistic treatment options like mindfulness during recovery. Addiction can be a tough situation but you don’t have to go through it alone. Let us help you and your loved ones get to a bright future. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and if you have any questions at all!