Yoga – An Integral Part of Holistic Addiction Treatment
At Ashley, we believe in addressing all aspects of the recovering person. This is why we have integrated holistic care into our addiction treatment program.
We believe that recovering from a substance use disorder is about so much more than simply stopping the use of alcohol and drugs. In fact, abstinence is only the first step. Once the drugs are out of your system, there is some work to be done!
Yoga is one of the best ways to restore the mind-body-spirit connection, which has been interrupted by the addictive cycle. It ignites a sense of spirituality in the recovering person, one that is necessary to ensure ongoing recovery.
Of course, when most people think about doing yoga, they do not associate this meditative practice with addiction recovery. However; scientific studies have shown that yoga offers numerous health benefits for those who get sober.
Drug and alcohol addiction delivers toxic consequences to an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. Yoga helps restore emotional stability, improves physical health, and promotes a sense of spirituality. Why wouldn’t we incorporate it into our addiction treatment plans?
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a mindfulness practice that dates back at least 5,000 years. You might be surprised to learn that the word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj.” This means “to yoke or bind.” The literal Western interpretation of the word “yoga” is “union.”
Yoga involves executing very intentional stretching poses while practicing breathing, mindfulness, and meditation. Those who engage in the spiritual practice of yoga say that it creates a feeling of wellness, serenity, mental focus, and a connectedness to something greater than themselves.
Written more than 2,000 years ago by an Indian sage named “Patanjali,” the Yoga Sutra is considered to be the authoritative text on yoga. It includes 195 statements that provide a spiritual framework for those who are interested in practicing yoga.
Here is a statement from Patanjali from the Yoga Sutra that attempts to explain the experience of yoga in simple terms:
“Yoga is the progressive settling of the mind into silence. When the mind is settled, we are established in our own essential state, which is unbounded consciousness. Our essential nature is usually overshadowed by the activity of the mind”
Additionally, Patanjali describes yoga as “the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.” He explains that yoga is en effective way to experience detachment. This helps relieve human suffering, which encourages the practitioner to experience the authentic self.
How Does Yoga Aid the Recovery Process?
For thousands of years, yoga was only practiced in the East – in countries like India where yoga originated. However; in the past 25 years, yoga has become a common practice in the West. Now more than ever, this ancient artform is being offered in addiction treatment programs as a way to aid the recovery process. There are good reasons for this.
Here are just a few of the many ways yoga helps those who have made the brave decision to get sober:
- Yoga has been proven to boost mood, which helps to fight depression and combat anxiety.
- It reduces production of the stress-hormone cortisol in the brain.
- Yoga aids the detoxification process and eases withdrawal symptoms. For example, yoga relieves body aches and muscle cramps, improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
- It promotes mindfulness, which quiets mental chatter and calms racing thoughts. It allows you to be fully present in the moment.
- Yoga produces healthy, restful sleep.
- It improves flexibility.
- Yoga releases the body’s natural pain relievers to help manage chronic pain.
- Yoga also creates a feeling of connectedness to mind, body, spirit, and higher consciousness.
These are just a few of the many ways that yoga positively impacts the recovery process.
You Don’t Have to Be a Spiritual Person to Benefit from Yoga in Recovery
Many people practice yoga because it allows them to feel more connected spiritually. However; you can enjoy and appreciate this artform even if you dont consider yourself a spiritual person. Yoga is as much a physical exercise as it is a spiritual one.
On that note, please do not feel intimidated by yoga, as many people do. You do not have to be in good physical condition to engage in this activity. You should not be afraid of being present with your own mind because of all of the incessant chatter. There is no need to avoid this practice because you don’t like the idea of slowing down.
When it comes to yoga, there is nothing to fear. You can’t do it wrong. You don’t need any extensive metaphysical knowledge to do it or fancy equipment. All you need is a willingness to open yourself up to the experience.
Here at Ashley, we employ certified yoga instructors who are empathetic toward those who are new to the recovery process. Our instructors offer beginners yoga classes and meet participants at their fitness level. This allows our patients to perform yoga comfortably.
Ready to start yoga now? Check out these instructional videos on YouTube.