Addiction is a disease that ravishes not only the physical body, but also many mental and emotional functions of the brain. Treating this disease requires a holistic approach that identifies the underlying cause of substance use and addresses the many compounding effects on mental and physical well-being.
Treatment options like those provided at Granite Recovery Centers offer continued care and teach healthy coping mechanisms so that individuals in recovery can achieve lifelong sobriety.
Practices in mindfulness, intuitive decision-making and physical movement such as yoga can greatly impact the ease with which a client begins their journey to recovery. Starting a new lifestyle is a journey of a million tiny steps. For anyone juggling recovery, healthy habits and everyday life stressors, learning balance is a necessary skill. This skill is one that you can acquire joyfully through beginning a yoga practice.
Finding the Right Practice for You
Some people believe that yoga is a practice for people who are already physically fit and flexible. In actuality, yoga is an inclusive practice that is feasible for both beginners and those with experience in similar workout routines. Yoga is to be as unique as the individual practicing.
There are many different types of yoga globally, each designed to have specific benefits for those practicing. However, each form still revolves around the same core practices: breath work, mindfulness and movement.
Vinyasa yoga is defined as the stringing together of poses fluidly. These seamless movements from one posture to the next are called flows, and using breath work and mindfulness allows practitioners to see that life follows a very similar flow. You are in each pose or state for a temporary amount of time and can quickly shift to the next.
Learning to go with the flow and listen to your breath is key to not only a successful yoga practice but a balanced life too. However, balance alone can only get a person so far. Life and yoga can also require structure and patterns, which are both critical components to recovery from substance use disorder. Ashtanga yoga puts those principles to practice by using a specific set of postures strung together in the same pattern each time. This style aids in bringing structure and routine to the forefront of consciousness, making it perfectly aligned for those in recovery to relearn patterns that lead to success.
Countless fitness professionals have created hybrid versions of exercise routines that incorporate principles of yoga into more challenging modalities of exercise. Buti, Piyo and Aerial yoga are examples of ways fitness innovators have combined the core principles of yoga seamlessly with other fitness genres. Challenge is what pushes progress, helps people overcome plateaus and builds resilience. For those in recovery, it can lead to a renewed sense of pride and self-confidence as well.
When relaxation and meditation are top priorities, this modality uses breath work and mindfulness to help practitioners stretch deeply and find a renewed state of calm. Each pose is held for several minutes, allowing time to feel the stretch, move through the uncomfortable parts of stillness, and find resounding strength and endurance. It’s just when it feels like too much that it’s time to release and move to the next posture. This version of yoga strengthens the belief that complex things are possible, and everyone can achieve them.
Creating the Habit
At Granite Recovery Centers, we have learned through years of experience in helping clients reach sobriety that preparing for life after addiction and creating healthy lifestyle habits are crucial. However, starting healthier habits is a challenging task, especially for those who have been battling substance use disorder for most of their adult lives. Many times, substance use disorder is not a stand-alone diagnosis. Once recovery begins, we uncover how multifaceted the cause of the problem was and how versatile the treatment plan must be.
Detoxification and psychotherapies are vital. In addition, relearning how to live without the pressures of addiction is a challenge for most clients. Once traditional methods have been successful, yoga comes into play in helping clients create those healthy patterns that lead to success. In a 2018 study review, a group of psychiatrists concluded that yoga therapies could be an effective tool in a multifaceted approach to treating substance use disorder and can have positive effects on the clients’ outcome.
Equipment and Space Needed
One of the most inclusive features of yoga is that very little, if anything, is needed to begin a practice and start seeing results. All that is required is a clear space where you have at least 3 feet around you to work with. Some practitioners prefer a mat, but if the ground or floor is sturdy, a mat is optional. The primary necessity to begin a yoga practice is the yearning to feel better and open-minded. Being asked to stretch out of your comfort zone is common, so ensure that you have the proper emotional supports in place as you uncover new layers to your power. Yoga blocks, straps and socks are all useful accessories, but there is no required equipment for most types of yoga.
The American Osteopathic Association credits yoga with many physical benefits thanks to the relaxation methods taught during a routine. While learning to quiet the never-ending dialogue of the brain, practitioners learn to listen to cues of their physical body. This increased awareness can help pinpoint injuries or imbalances that need addressing, and the increased relaxation also helps lower blood pressure and reduces stress.
You can achieve these physical benefits through a regular yoga practice:
- Increased energy
- Increased flexibility
- Improved muscle tone
- Increased stamina and strength
- Balanced metabolism
- Injury prevention
These physical benefits are mainly due to the postures and time spent holding or stretching through them. Building muscle strength and enhancing core stability can have a positive effect on common complaints like lower back aches and sore feet. However, physical benefits are just the beginning. While practicing being present in the current moment, many practitioners learn how to move intuitively and live that way. An improved diet, a stronger moral compass and more gratitude are part of a new way of life through continued practice.
Mental Health Benefits
According to the CDC, increased stress led to these top causes of death in 2019:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Stress is one of the most influential factors in a person’s health, and the CDC also estimates that 75% of all doctor visits are for stress-related complaints. The easiest way to improve one’s overall health is to reduce stress.
Reducing stress on an already overloaded system is imperative for those in recovery. Stress releases hormones and oxidizing molecules that wreak havoc throughout the physical body and terrorize a person’s mental state. During recovery, therapy can uncover old wounds or traumas in treatment. Healing from such traumas can be a daunting task if unsupported. Yoga can benefit the client by quieting the brain, helping the person become present and teaching gratitude.
Breath work intertwined with physical movement ensures that attention is on the present moment and sensations throughout the body. This practice strengthens the mind-body connection, allowing the practitioner to choose where their concentration needs to be. Intuitive movement and thinking become normal the more they are practiced.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we understand the importance of comprehensive care. Even with the magnitude of available services we offer, we have to prepare our clients to live independently and stay successful in their recovery. Staying sober requires a mental fortitude that can withstand the pressures of integrating as a functional community member. Some clients find that yoga aids in strengthening that skill by encouraging intuitive living.
Simply put, intuitive living uses one’s wisdom and judgment for every decision. During a yoga practice, you learn how listening to your body can translate to balancing disorder and changing the course of disease progression. With that new ability, you can apply the same decision-making skills to more everyday choices such as diet, hobbies and friend circles.
Intuitive decision-making leads to improved diet for most clients, allowing them the freedom to listen to their bodies when having reactions to food. Some people notice how heavy meals make them feel during their practice, leading to an intuitive decision to choose lighter foods.
A person’s moral compass can also see improvement through relaxation and meditation. Opening space to reflect on past decisions without judgment or bias allows an individual room to forgive their mistakes and consciously choose to move on from them. This action of forgiveness and healing can be a massive step toward lifelong sobriety. Self-confidence and believing in one’s decision-making abilities are vital to living independently.
The Importance of Gratitude
Now that we know how significant stress is for the health of the human body, both physically and mentally, we understand the need to shift our reality to a more positive one. We uncover the need to make amends and strengthen healthy relationships during recovery. To achieve those milestones, we must change the pattern of thinking that leads to substance use in the first place.
In yoga practices, we learn the importance of gratitude and how achieving a gracious state of mind can alter our perception of our existing reality. Many people in recovery feel overwhelming guilt or regret about their past, but once the focus changes to the future they are building, they find gratitude.
Appreciating what you have is the core definition of gratitude. With time and practice, it becomes clear that viewing your life in a positive light helps maintain not only sobriety but overall positivity.
Is Yoga the Ultimate Answer?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment or cure for substance use disorder. Various treatment options allow individuals to get the special care needed for their unique situation. However, there is a universal need to cultivate a more conscious living experience. Yoga seems to be a promising practice in bolstering the mind-body connection necessary to enhance a person’s quality of life.
It becomes apparent when looking at the big picture of what good health encompasses that yoga hits the mark on many aspects needed to build a healthy lifestyle and enhance healing for those in recovery. From the ease of getting started to the physical and mental benefits, including improved strength and reduced risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety, yoga truly is an all-around boon to health.
Enhancing mental health capacity and strengthening the mind-body connection further bolster a client’s recuperation efforts through decreasing stress and allowing space and time to heal wholly. Here at Granite Recovery Centers, we encourage our clients to enlist every modality that suits them in their journey to lifelong sobriety, and our caring staff is here to help you. Whether you are looking to take the first steps and detox, Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency. Should you be interested in continued care and supplemental therapies, we are also here to help you achieve sobriety.