Recovering From Addiction With Yoga

Addiction is much more than a physical problem, which is why recovery has to address much more than its physical symptoms. If you or someone you love is looking for effective drug treatment, there are significant benefits to choosing a holistic addiction recovery program. By engaging both the body and brain, the ancient practice of yoga can be an important, complementary part of the recovery process. And with regular use, this enjoyable, relaxing, health-enhancing activity may even become a life-changing habit.

How Yoga Can Aid Recovery

Because of its unique benefits, the practice of yoga is particularly useful for addiction recovery. Here are a few examples of how it can help strengthen both the mind and body to enable greater healing:

By developing strength and control — For many people with substance abuse issues, the pressures of life weigh heavily enough to create a desire for escape. In those who practice it regularly, yoga counteracts that desire by restoring a peaceful inner state and developing strength, control and the ability to face whatever comes. These characteristics are all vital for being able to successfully resist harmful substances.

By enhancing physical sensation — While addictive substances dull the senses and enable a person to disengage from what is happening in his or her body, yoga does the exact opposite. It helps the healing individual relearn and adapt to their normal physical sensations.

By regulating moods — Anyone who’s been dependent on drugs or alcohol knows how necessary those substances can become to regulating emotions and mood. Without them, a recovering person can feel helpless and unsure how to manage anxiety or fatigue. Yoga offers a healthy alternative to pain relievers, sedatives and alcohol. It helps the individual manage emotions in a healthy way. The regular practice of yoga also is associated with stress relief, more energy and an overall better mood.

By regulating stress hormones — While stress normally impacts the body by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, there are many ways to combat those effects. One excellent example is yoga. Indeed, yoga can help regulate and balance hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which typically spike during stressful situations and negatively impact the body and mind.
By rewiring the brain — Substance abuse actually changes pathways in the brain, affecting everything from decision making to impulse control. Here, too, is an area where yoga can help. Through regular practice, yoga can develop the parts of the brain associated with controlling stress.

By boosting energy — While fatigue may not be the first trigger you associate with addiction relapse, being tired makes a person more susceptible to many harmful practices. Yoga energizes practitioners and provides a real mental boost that may prevent an unexpected meltdown that could lead to relapse.

General Benefits From Yoga

Widely enjoyed by individuals of all ages, interests and activity levels, yoga is not only beneficial for recovering addicts, but also for anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle. Consider some of the benefits this practice provides:

Better sleep quality
Regulated breathing
Clearer thinking
Less anxiety
More confidence
Stress relief
Reduced irritability
Greater physical strength
Emotional healing
More self-awareness

Yoga offers a safe, healthy, relaxing way to manage day-to-day life, especially for individuals undergoing drug treatment or working on recovery. It doesn’t require special equipment and can be practiced almost anywhere. When used as part of a holistic addiction recovery program, yoga is an important and empowering way to move toward healing.

To learn more about the practice of yoga for addiction recovery, take a look at the attached resource, which showcases not only the benefits offered by yoga, but also specific poses you can begin trying now.


This infographic was created by Symetria Recovery, an opioid treatment center

Author bio: Chris Hassan is President and CEO of Symetria Health® — the country’s first comprehensive evidence-based opioid addiction treatment program, designed to deliver data-validated outcomes that outperform other treatments currently available. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment, is active on several national panels and corporate boards, while also serving as a Huffington Post contributor.

12 thoughts on “Recovering From Addiction With Yoga

  1. As a former addict who loves trail running as well as reading about trail running, it seems to me that it’s common to substitute a harmful substance abuse addiction with a running (and often ultra-running) addiction. Many runners would say no, no, I’m not addicted, I’m just living a healthier life now (as they lace up their shoes to head out for a 30 mile training run). I wonder if you see a similar trend in Yoga. Instead of taking on a healthy activity to gain all of the benefits you list, they become addicted to the sport in ways that damages their bodies and their relationships. My addictive personality seems to have stemmed from OCD, which I now treat fairly effectively. But before treatments, I could easily see getting addicted to Yoga (or anything else). Can you *win* a Yoga contest?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I LOVE yoga and it has been instrumental in my recovery. Almost every principle I learn in yoga is completely useful to me in learning how my mind works. This way I can increase awareness, find more power to change, and shift my brain in directions that get me the results I want.

    Liked by 1 person

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