Yoga has long been used for several purposes for centuries. Not only is it an enjoyable way to keep fit, but it also connects the mind, body, and spirit, allowing for good overall physical and emotional health. In the area of addiction recovery, yoga has been and continues to be one of the leading activities that is practiced because of how effective it is at providing comprehensive and holistic care for those trying to maintain their sobriety. The resulting benefits that can come from participating in yoga can dramatically impact a recovering user’s life in several positive ways.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Abusing drugs or alcohol for any period of time can cause damage to a person’s physical health and wellbeing. And, depending on the type of substance that was being abused and for how long it was being consumed, the physical consequences a person can face can range from mild to life-threatening.
People who abuse alcohol, for instance, can experience liver problems, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat even after they have stopped drinking. Physical effects related to other commonly abused substances include:
- Meth: skin sores, tooth decay, vital organ damage
- Cocaine: disease in the heart muscle, heart attack, stroke
- Opioids: respiratory problems, increased risk for heart attack
- Sedatives: sexual dysfunction, chronic fatigue, problems with sleep
These are merely just some of the many physical effects that the abuse of drugs and alcohol can cause. In many cases, even after a person gets sober, these physical effects can disrupt their lives in several different ways. Some people, however, can do things to decrease their chances of suffering from these and other physical effects. Yoga is one of the most highly regarded preventative treatments for those recovering from substance abuse and looking to live healthier lives.
Including yoga in one’s treatment plan can not only prevent negative side effects from occurring, it can also improve upon one’s overall health. From a physical standpoint, yoga can benefit those in recovery by:
- Alleviating stress
- Reducing pain
- Increasing energy
- Improving the immune system
Those in recovery are no stranger to stress, as their disease has likely placed an exceptional amount of stress in their lives, nor are they unfamiliar with feeling generally unwell. Through yoga, recovering addicts and alcoholics can utilize meditation to decrease stress, movement to reduce pain and increase energy, and a combination of the two to maintain good physical health so that illnesses such as colds are few and far between. When a person’s body is in good working order, countless other areas of his or her life can start to function properly again.
Emotional Benefits of Yoga
Addiction is just as emotional as it is physical, if not more. The process of going from actively abusing drugs or alcohol to fully abstaining is extremely emotional, as most people have been utilizing mind-altering substances to avoid dealing with issues that have been too difficult for them to face. So when the shield that was drugs and alcohol is removed, it can leave someone feeling vulnerable. Thankfully, yoga can not only help with making this transition more emotionally comfortable, but also in fostering positive emotional health for the long-term. Consider the following emotional benefits of participating in yoga while in recovery:
- Relaxing the mind through the use of meditation
- Encouraging mental clarity through pose and breath work
- Providing a physical outlet for pent up emotions
- Aiding in calming the central nervous system, which when worked up, can produce feelings of anxiety and stress that compromise one’s mental state
- Utilizing a higher power to promote inner peace and trust in something bigger than oneself
Several of the emotional benefits associated with yoga also contribute to one’s psychological health. As mentioned, meditation can calm racing thoughts, which for some, might be synonymous with a mental illness like obsessive-compulsive disorder or panic disorder. Having a method of achieving mental clarity when struggling with symptoms of depression or attention deficit disorder, for example, can free a person from the confines of their illness. Those who have one or more anxiety disorders can benefit from learning how to use yoga to calm the central nervous system, while believing in a higher power can offer those who are feeling unsteady in their mental health the foundation they need to begin feeling hopeful for their future.
Yoga for Relapse Prevention
Not only is yoga a practice that can help recovering users maintain good physical, emotional, and mental health, but it is also a key component for many people in preventing relapse.
Relapsing is a normal part of recovery whether a person likes it or not. And while not everyone will experience relapse after getting sober, countless people will, and that is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. There are ways, however, that people can increase their odds of remaining sober for the long-term as opposed to relapsing. Yoga is one of the most notable methods of helping recovering individuals achieve that goal.
Yoga is one of the best ways for people in recovery to practice good self care, which is key to keeping sober. Self care includes taking good care of the body and mind, both of which are the main priorities of yoga. Because yoga provides mental clarity and physical wellness, individuals in recovery are more likely to eat better, focus on getting enough productive sleep, and utilizing the energy they get through this exercise to care for themselves in ways that promote their sobriety. The inclusion of yoga into one’s recovery plan can prevent them from doing things that are notoriously common in those who relapse, such as bottle up emotions, allow stress to fester, develop a mental fog, and forego a good eat-sleep-exercise regimen.
While yoga is not for everyone, it can be the key to keeping sober for the millions of people who utilize it for this very purpose.
Get Help Now
The disease of addiction is one that can be difficult to manage, even when in recovery. At JourneyPure Bowling Green, we can help you develop a strong foundation for your recovery so that you can continue to achieve success along the way.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.