Yoga as a Tool for Recovery

Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elizabeth Drew, MD
Last Updated: August 22, 2021

Yoga is an ancient practice that’s been in use for centuries. It’s helped countless individuals through the years from all walks of life. Anybody can potentially find solace in the practice, from those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of spirituality to everyday individuals looking for a brief moment of relief in their day.

Some addiction treatment facilities started incorporating yoga therapy into their programs in recent years. The numerous benefits that help regular individuals are valuable for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, too.

How is yoga used as a tool for recovery today? What are some of the beneficial components of the practice of yoga that apply to addiction and alcoholism recovery? Continue reading to discover the many connections between the two.

The Rise of Holistic Approaches to Treatment

Addiction is a complex and multi-faceted condition that affects both the brain and body. Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction isn’t as simple as quitting substances. The substances are only part of the problem.

Effective addiction recovery addresses the mental issues that are characteristic of the condition. People who struggle with substance abuse know full well the many possible outcomes of their use, but pick up anyway. It makes no sense to those who have no experience with addiction but this phenomenon is all too real to those who have experienced addiction personally.

The complexities of addiction require a nuanced approach to treatment. Traditional methods like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy are excellent ways to work through the psychological component of addiction. But these don’t always go far enough.

Effective addiction treatment takes into account the person as a whole. It focuses not only on the mental components of addiction but the physical components as well. The rise of holistic treatment for drug addiction in treatment facilities is a nod to this need for a nuanced approach. And incorporating yoga as a tool for recovery is one of the best options.

Yoga as a Tool for Recovery

How Yoga Helps with Addiction Recovery

The practice of yoga has helped people connect with themselves, their fellows, and the world around them for centuries. It is the perfect complement to addiction recovery treatment programs for a variety of reasons. The stress-reducing and calming effects of yoga are only two of the many reasons to use yoga as a tool for recovery.

The Practice of Yoga is Reflective of Recovery

Recovery is not a one-way journey for many people. It isn’t as simple as putting down drugs and feeling immediate relief. Relapse is a common part of the sobriety stories of many individuals. Long-term recovery requires commitment and ongoing practice and work to stay sober.

The practice of yoga is a similar journey that is reflective of recovery. You don’t achieve perfection from the moment you first step foot on the mat. Building an effective yoga practice requires you to be dedicated and patient with yourself. You also need to have the willingness to make mistakes and try again when you fail.

Connects Your Mind and Body

One of the primary goals of yoga is to build a connection between your mind and your body. As you work through the first few sessions of your yoga practice, you discover how to listen to feedback from your body. It might feel like drugs and alcohol help you connect with yourself. In reality, though, they create a disconnect between your mind and body.

You likely won’t be able to complete every movement during your first practice. Over time, though, you’ll rebuild the connection between your mind and body. You’ll work on your flexibility and develop the ability to hold poses for longer. You learn to lean into the challenge of certain poses and develop your range of motion as you practice.

Teaches the Tool of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the gentle awareness of what’s going on around you in the present moment. Active addiction destroys your ability to be mindful since you’re oftentimes thinking about things that aren’t directly in front of you.

Yoga gently requests your attention and asks you to practice being fully in the present moment. It starts with the physical by incorporating poses and movements that require you to be present. Your ability to be present mentally follows along as you work through the physical practice of yoga.

Yoga is a Form of Exercise

Yoga is a Form of Exercise

Exercise is an important component in the recovery of millions of people. It doesn’t have to be intensive or demanding exercise, either. Simply moving your body a few times during the week helps both your mind and your body. Yoga is an excellent form of low-impact exercise for people trying to support their health and wellbeing.

Helps You Build a Community

Yoga is not only a practice that connects you with yourself but it connects you with those around you as well. Attending yoga therapy during treatment or a yoga class after leaving the facility places you in a group of like-minded individuals. You’re all there for your own reason, but those reasons often stem from trying to better yourself.

In addition to building a sober community, you can use yoga as a tool for recovery to build another supportive community. You can come to your yoga practice on your own or with your group when you need to connect with others around you.

Encourages Relaxation

Along with all the benefits above, yoga ultimately promotes relaxation. It doesn’t ask for perfection, it doesn’t require you to be the best. Yoga simply encourages you to connect with yourself in both mind and body. The slow, intentional practice allows you to take a moment from your day to relax and ground yourself once again in the present moment.

Yoga Therapy at Treatment Facilities

Treatment facilities that teach yoga as a tool for recovery equip their patients with a practice they can take with them afterward. It introduces recovering addicts and alcoholics to something they may not have tried on their own.

Peace Valley Recovery understands the extensive benefits of yoga therapy and we use it as part of the treatment programs at our facility. Do you want to know more about how yoga can help build your recovery? Are there other questions you have about addiction treatment? Call us today at (215) 780-1953 and we can help!

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