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Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Recovery

Recovery is a process that involves all aspects of your life and, as such, can be helped by various things. While using yoga to assist in recovery might seem silly, studies have shown that yoga's physical and mental components have far-reaching effects on recovery. These range from creating new coping mechanisms to rewiring your brain to make your journey more permanent.

Rewiring the Brain

Our brain is a complex map of neural highways that we forge and enforce throughout our lives. This is done through thinking, doing things, and what we put into our bodies. During addiction, these highways are altered into habits that support drug abuse and can include feelings of pleasure, decision-making skills, impulse control, and emotion control.

The good news is that these neural highways can be re-altered after addiction. Yoga can offer the physiological and mental space to repave old highways neglected during addiction and close highways that are no longer in use.

Manages Withdrawal Symptoms

As your body adjusts to not having a substance it thought was necessary, you'll experience discomfort. While your body might seem to be rebelling as it struggles for that substance again, integrating yoga can help ease these uncomfortable symptoms.

We can manage withdrawal symptoms by reducing some of the mental distress caused by these symptoms, distracting the mind, and gently moving the body through calming exercises.

Provides a Natural High

While this isn't on the same level as a chemically induced high, exercise of any kind helps your body release hormones that give a euphoric high. What's great about this natural high is that it's longer-lasting than a chemically induced high, and you don't build up a tolerance to it.

Your body is naturally secreting these hormones according to how it's designed, so it won't build up a tolerance like it would to outside substances.

Stress Reduction

The gentle motions and breathing exercises you take part in during yoga are repetitive and calming. This is an excellent source of stress relief. As stress is often pinpointed as a significant trigger for use and relapse, yoga can be used as an alternative coping mechanism to remove that threat.

Regular yoga practice has also been shown to enlarge the hippocampus, one part of the brain that helps control stress.

Creates Better Self-Control

Some say recovery is partly a battle of self-control, of having the control to acknowledge that your dependence is not what you want from life and push yourself to stay away from that dependence. However, self-control can be grown and shored up through a feeling of control over one's life and exercising independence.

Yoga offers a healthier living standard and gentle reverence for one's body. In addition, the gentle motions of yoga and mindfulness mindset contribute to a greater sense of self-control and self-respect.

Creates Better Coping Mechanisms

The mental aspect of yoga is dedicated to controlling your mind, and this is a considerable help during recovery. After abstaining from drugs, former users may no longer have their favorite form of coping with difficult emotions. Yoga offers a healthy way to process these emotions without backsliding into destructive habits.

Yoga Integrated into Treatment

By integrating yoga into addiction counseling, recovery can be bolstered and aided. This is true for physical symptoms and struggle, as well as the more insidious mental aspects of recovery. Yoga provides a holistic addition to recovery strategies.


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