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Addiction Treatment: Does Yoga Really Help with Addiction?

A lot of healing starts with the body, and this can be said about the addiction recovery process.  Mind-body practices like yoga have been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety in the body, supporting a person’s well-being and helping them to process situations better. Stress can expose someone to relapse, making stress-relieving activities like yoga crucial to recovery.  Let’s take a closer look at the correlation between addiction and yoga and its effect on the addiction recovery process. 

How Yoga Helps With Addiction Recovery 

When someone is struggling with an addiction, their brain releases a large amount of dopamine during substance use. These levels of dopamine then fall under a baseline level when the individual isn’t using anymore, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and irritability. Where exercises like yoga come in is that they set the body and mind’s healing mechanism into motion. Regular exercise increases endogenous dopamine, which can help combat that “empty” feeling one might feel after they don’t use a substance regularly. 

Yoga for Addiction Helps You Remain Present 

Being present during the addiction recovery process is crucial. It takes concentration and taking it one day at a time to overcome addiction. Yoga can calm your mind enough to allow you to do this. Regular yoga combined with addiction recovery services is the best way to stay present and make strides in your journey. 

Yoga Helps Identify Harmful Habits 

As previously mentioned, yoga helps you stay in the present and can calm your mind and body enough to help you identify harmful habits. These habits can be mental and physical and are often done without realizing it.  Once you can identify these behaviors, it’s easier to accept and deal with them. Identifying habits that can be disruptive to your recovery can help you create better, healthier habits to counter them, boosting your confidence and allowing you to move forward with your recovery journey. 

Yoga Can Build Confidence 

Insecurity and low-self esteem are driving factors for relapse and other addictive behaviors. Yoga can help you reconnect with your body and mind, building up your confidence and lowering the risk of feeling like you need to participate in harmful activities like substance use.  Confidence will also allow you to take the next steps in your addiction recovery journey. 

The Best Yoga Poses for Addiction Recovery 

Yoga is excellent for your physical and mental health, but some poses provide significant benefits for addiction recovery. Here are some poses you should try if you want to get the most out of your yoga for addiction routine: 

Fish Pose 

Also known as Matsyasana, Fish Pose is a great way to stretch the thoracic spine, shoulders, and chest, making it a great heart opener.  This is what Fish Pose looks like: 
  • Begin on your back with your legs extended and your feet together.
  • Lift your chest and shoulders while you rest on your forearms.
  • Move your hips closer to your elbows, and create a bend in your spine. 
  • Lift your hips to bring your pinky fingers to touch below your glutes.
  • Stay in Fish Pose for 5-10 full breaths. 
This yoga pose can be difficult for beginners, so it’s best to warm up properly and find a reliable tutorial to guide you through the pose.  Downward Dog  Downward Dog is a classic yoga pose because it stretches and lengthens the muscles significantly to reduce physical and mental tension. This is also one of the most common yoga poses, which makes it easy if you’re just getting started with yoga. 

Low Lunge 

The low lunge yoga pose helps stretch your hips, psoas, flexors, and groin. These body parts generally hold great tension and emotional trauma, making the Low Lunge a must-have in your yoga for addiction routine.  To get into the Low Lunge, you’ll need to be in Downward Dog. When you’re in position:
  • Bring your right leg forward to stack your right knee on top of your ankle. 
This yoga pose can be done intensely or gently, depending on your body. 

Yogi Bicycles 

Yogi bicycles are another excellent exercise for confidence levels. The movements involved in this dynamic stretch help build up heat in the body, which generates that confidence.  For this exercise, you’ll want to really focus on your breathing. Start on your back with your hands interlaced behind your head, then bend your knees, squeezing them into your chest. Make sure to inhale and exhale regularly. 

Legs Up the Wall Pose 

To counter the intensity of the Yogi Bicycles, you can also implement the Legs Up the Wall Pose into your yoga for addiction routine. This yoga pose is a great relaxation technique to help relax your nerves and rejuvenate the body. 

For Legs Up the Wall Pose, you should:

  • Start in the fetal position with your hips close to the wall.
  • Gently roll on your back, and extend your legs to rest your thighs on the wall. 
  • Adjust your hips closer to the wall, and drape your arms by your hips for comfort, if needed.
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 minutes, then roll back into the starting fetal position to release.
The more time you spend in this pose, the more your circulation will improve; this will help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression so you can focus on your recovery. 

Get the Addiction Recovery Services You Need at Ardu Recovery Center

Yoga for addiction can be a game changer and a significant first step to recovery. If you think you’re ready to take on the next steps of recovery after clearing your head with yoga, get in touch with us at Ardu Recovery Center.  Our Provo, Utah, facilities have the services and programs you need to get your life back on track and toward a healthy recovery journey. Call us at 801-872-8480 or fill out our online consultation form today.