Yoga is a practice over 5,000 years old. Modern yoga is used to connect the mind and body to breathing. The methods are intended to encourage self-awareness and help a person focus their attention inward.
Yoga during substance abuse treatment is becoming more common. Treatment facilities are offering yoga as a way to manage and reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as a coping method to manage stress of daily life and potential triggers.
These benefits are in addition to the number of other positive elements that yoga can introduce into the life of someone who actively participates in this type of therapy.
Benefits Of Yoga Therapy
Yoga has been connected to many positive benefits, such as:
- better sleep
- increased strength
- emotional healing
- healthier habits
- increased energy levels
- better self-awareness
- decrease in exhaustion
- improved self-image
- higher self-esteem
Many of the benefits of yoga could be considered lifesaving to a person struggling with addiction. Being able to see an increase in self-esteem and self-worth could make all the difference for a person who is at the brink of a relapse or attempting to manage cravings.
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Yoga And The Addicted Brain
Addiction changes the pathways in the brain. Over time, impulse control, decision making, and pleasure seeking pathways are all modified by substance abuse and addiction.
When a person stops abusing drugs or alcohol, the brain can struggle to make the changes necessary to maintain sobriety. Yoga might be able to assist with this recovery process.
Studies have shown growth in the areas of the brain that control stress in those who regularly practice yoga.
Additionally, people who practice yoga regularly have shown increased levels of GABA in their brain, the neurotransmitter that works to decrease stress in the brain and body.
Yoga therapy for addiction treatment may offer the development of self-regulation skills, adaptive attitudes, and an overall better perspective for those battling substance abuse.
There are numerous studies that report the many ways yoga has been found to be beneficial to those in substance abuse treatment, including:
- A review of literature that connected stress and addiction, and explained how yoga and mindfulness were effective in reducing the stress associated with addiction, and, in turn, could help manage sobriety (Khanna & Greeson, 2013).
- Yoga was found to have antidepressant effects on alcohol-dependent individuals in this study, specifically an increase in serotonin levels (Vedamurthachar, et.al, 2006).
- Yoga has been reported as having therapeutic and restorative benefits for those in recovery from substance abuse (Cappelli, 2017).
Yoga And Mindfulness
Yoga works to connect the body and mind, while mindfulness helps a person shift focus inward and work to maintain an awareness of themselves and their response to the environment.
Utilizing both yoga and mindfulness together in addiction treatment can help a person stay connected to their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. These tools are often helpful when a person is triggered or is experiencing withdrawals or cravings.
Yoga Therapy For Addiction Treatment At Swift River
At Swift River, in Massachusetts, yoga therapy for addiction is offered every day to those in stage two of residential treatment. The daily, one-hour class is led by one of several yoga-certified individuals on staff.
Stage two is the learning stage of treatment, where the staff at Swift River works with the residents to help them develop appropriate coping strategies and overall well-being.
Yoga therapy for addiction as well as many other activities are offered during this stage of treatment, to help residents obtain new skill-sets and tools to manage their recovery. To learn more about our treatment program, contact Swift River today.
- Complement Therapies in Medicine — A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction
- Journal of Affective Disorders — Antidepressant efficacy and hormonal effects of Sudarshana Kriya Yoga (SKY) in alcohol dependent individuals
- MedCrave — Restorative and therapeutic benefits of yoga in addiction recovery