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Understanding the Benefits to Yoga for Recovery from Addiction

The practice of yoga, which combines both physical and mental disciplines in order to achieve peace and mindfulness, can be used as a component of treatment for addiction. Yoga can have many benefits for your recovery as well as allow you to experience increased health and serenity both inside and out.

The Use of Yoga in Addiction Recovery

According to the PCOM, yoga has been considered useful for a long time in fighting addiction and strengthening recovery. “Smoking is an addiction that can be beaten with the practice of yoga” and especially with the use of a more intensive type called Kudalini. Kudalini uses “particular attention to heavy breathing [which] draws people’s attention to the lungs and their current health state.”

Some women may choose to attend yoga as a self-imposed treatment for their addictions, but yoga is also used in treatment facilities to help patients recover from addiction to stimulants, opioids, and other drugs both illicit and prescription-based. As stated by an NCBI study, “A small but growing number of well-designed clinical trials and experimental laboratory studies… support the clinical effectiveness and hypothesized mechanisms of action underlying mindfulness-based interventions for treating addiction.”

How is Yoga Effective as an Addiction Treatment?

yoga addiction recovery

Yoga teaches mindfulness.

Especially for many female patients, yoga can be effective during all stages of treatment for addiction, from the initial phase, to part of inpatient treatment, to a stabilizing force during recovery, and beyond. Some of the benefits of yoga as a treatment for recovering addicts include:

  • Teaching patients better control over their bodies and minds when addiction has stripped that away over time
  • Providing a physical outlet of exercise that allows patients to channel their cravings and other difficulties into a positive action
  • Helping patients learn to practice mindfulness which is not only effective as a relaxation tool which also helps to avoid relapse
  • Heightening a patient’s self-awareness so that she will, theoretically, be more likely to recognize triggers and other issues and be able to prevent them
  • Reducing stress, a major factor in the origins of drug abuse for many women and in relapse
  • “Promoting and improving respiratory and cardiovascular function,” leading to better recovery health (NCBI)
  • Improving sleeping patterns and helping to battle insomnia
  • Reducing anxiety and depression, two common symptoms associated with different withdrawal syndromes
  • Improving “self-confidence and body image” which can suffer as a result of drug addiction (and which a large population of women struggle with every day)
  • Helping patients reach a better and more positive state of mind, which deeply benefits recovery

Yoga is often used as a component of a larger treatment program for addiction recovery; that is, women who attend a rehab facility where yoga is provided will also receive the traditional treatments such as medication, behavioral therapies, and doctor consultations.

However, as a holistic treatment method and one that involves treatment of both the mind and the body, yoga often has benefits that no other treatment type can provide to those in addiction recovery. And women who finish their rehabilitation can also continue practicing yoga afterward if they have found it to be largely beneficial to them.