According to a survey published by US News and World Report, there are more than 21 million American citizens who practice yoga. This rate of more and more people engaging in yoga has doubled in the past decade and it is expected to only multiply in the coming decades. It is for the simple reason – Yoga is the only complementary form of health practice that is akin to a natural method of medicinal approach to healing the body, mind and soul, i.e., a science that works on a body in a holistic manner. Yoga helps the body connect with the mind and spirit and travel inward to gain awareness of the self and focus on the inner being. This is achieved through a combination of physical asanas, breathing techniques, and cleansing practices.
Yoga and Meditation are gaining further significance as important supportive tools in addition to the traditional methods of substance abuse treatment with the purpose to help the practitioner prevent relapse, aid them in effectively managing withdrawal symptoms as well as help them curb cravings for the substances and provide them the outlet to cope with daily life stressors.
How Is Yoga Used in Addiction Treatment?
When our brain and body go out of sync, it becomes easier for the body to fall prey to drug abuse and any other form of addiction. Through a regular practice of yoga, you learn to focus all your energy inward and take charge of your mind to navigate it toward self-healing and recovery. As you learn to accept these tendencies, it becomes easier to avoid and manage these urges. Denial is self-destructive. Yoga helps us understand and cope with that.
Healing from addiction and rehabilitating from it can take a toll on the body and mind. It even disrupts the quality of sleep and leads to insomnia in several cases. Through regular yoga practice, while going through treatment therapy, the user can improve their quality of sleep, feel more active during the day and also improve their appetite for consuming healthy foods. Better sleep and a healthy gut both play an important role in keeping irritability levels low. It also boosts the person’s self-confidence.
Most people undergoing treatment and rehabilitation programs go through these programs in 12 steps. During these programs, they are also introduced to spiritual concepts to help them establish a link between their physical and spiritual selves. Yoga can play a significant role in garnering this approach. Through pranayama and meditation techniques, the practitioners can increase mindfulness and tone down external influences, and distractions to finally achieve inner peace and mental strength to stay grounded in the present.
Yoga can also help in rebuilding brain functionality which often degrades under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
According to a study conducted by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, yoga is helpful in increasing the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA works like a naturally tranquilizing agent that helps the body manage stress response and anxiety and even symptoms of depression, common issues that arise from drug or alcohol withdrawal. Another study published by Harvard Health concluded that doing yoga 1.5 hours two times a week can help ease emotional distress and increases the overall wellbeing of the body and mind.
Some Yoga Poses to Practice That Can Help Heal Addiction
- Vajrasana (Sitting Mountain), variation
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
- Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
- Baddha Konasana (Butterfly)
Aspiring yogis and people seeking the path towards self-realization and recovery travel to India for studying yoga and meditation particularly to places like Rishikesh for a Hatha Yoga TTC in Rishikesh. A yoga retreat in Rishikesh is a great step to take if you are serious about learning yoga as well as looking to experience the life of a yogi, explore spirituality while absorbing the benefits of yoga.
How Meditation Can Help Heal Addiction?
Meditation is a branch or rather an important wing of Yoga. It is practiced by yogis to gain complete benefits of yoga such as reducing stress responses and anxiety management on a massive scale. Owing to its powerful benefits in improving mental health, its practice finds significant relevance in amplifying the effects of anti-addiction therapy. The core aim of meditation is to help the yogis find centeredness in the heart and spirit. This is achieved by a combination of mantra chanting and breathwork.
Meditation changes the brain waves to help reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, improve mood swings, the core symptoms that appear from substance withdrawal. With the altered brainwaves, cortisol production is also reduced which results in significant reduction of stress. The practice of mindfulness meditation is known to enhance the work of the frontal cortex, the matter in the brain responsible for planning and thinking abilities.
Meditation also affects the work of the amygdala which results in fear reduction and also increases the performance of anterior cingulate cortex, the region in the brain that governs motivation and motor skills.
Anxiety, insomnia and depression are common issues that appear from substance withdrawal. Meditation Therapy is useful in calming down the nervous system, as a result of which the practitioner can feel rested and have a better sleep quality as well.
A regular practice of meditation also releases dopamine in the body (the happy chemicals), a much needed chemical by the ones who are struggling from addiction issues.
As the practitioner feels more at peace with themselves, they are able to remain in the present without feeling the need to find distractions or give into their cravings.
Mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation are two of the most sought-after meditation practices for finding relief from substance addiction. However, it is important to note that no therapy is fully-conclusive on its own.
The real struggle begins and ends with you! Live healthy, live well!