Yoga Addiction Treatment

You might have always thought of yoga as something that people did to stretch their muscles and keep them fit. However, it is also a powerful tool used to help in the treatment of a variety of illnesses, including addiction and behaviour disorders. We will take an in-depth look at how yoga can be used to treat addiction in the following passages.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient exercise that focuses on flexibility, breathing, and strength. Moreover, as it boosts both mental and physical wellbeing, it is regularly used as part of a recovery programme for illnesses that include substance abuse and addiction. As an example, yoga is commonly utilised as part of rehabilitation programmes in hospitals, but it is also practised regularly by those just looking to improve mental and physical health.

Yoga originated in India around 5,000 years ago and has been continually adapted over time. Today there are many different forms of yoga, chief among them Raja and Hatha. However, while yoga is commonly used as a form of physical exercise, at its core it is also a spiritual and meditative exercise.

When practised correctly, yoga poses – which are known as asanas – can help to strengthen the body and centre the mind, thus promoting a sense of relaxation and improved wellbeing.

How Does Yoga Work?

Yoga has been greatly studied over the years to determine not only its health benefits but also how it works. New York physician and yoga instructor Dr Loren Fishman said that yoga has a powerful effect on the brain, immune system, and central nervous system. Research has shown that participating in yoga helps to thicken those layers in the brain that are responsible for higher learning. This means that it can ultimately have an impact on the brain’s ability to change and learn new things.

The process of yoga uses a variety of poses together with a focus on specific body parts, all the while concentrating on breathing. This process helps the mind, body, and soul to become one. Yoga poses are also great for strengthening and conditioning the body.

Yoga also involves the process of concentrating on individual parts of the body while exercising. Doing this helps to sharpen the mind and making the individual more aware of what he or she is doing. Concentrating and focusing on body parts stops the mind from wandering and can help to keep the person feeling relaxed.

Breathing techniques are also important when it comes to yoga. Controlled breathing can help to connect the mind and body and it is thought to improve energy flow within the body.

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Understanding Yoga

There are many reasons people take up yoga. Some do it to get fitter and have a more flexible body. Others do it to lose weight and have a thinner frame. However, there are those that take up yoga because it is included as part of a recovery programme for a specific illness.

Yoga is often used as a complementary treatment for addiction in conjunction with traditional therapies such as individual counselling and group therapy. The idea of using yoga in this way is that it provides an escape from the chaos and unpredictability of life and serves as a pathway to a more peaceful and relaxed existence.

While yoga is regularly used for fitness and health purposes as described above, it can also help you to see things more clearly. This is the reason it is often used as part of treating various health conditions such as addiction, behavioural disorders, and mental health problems.

If yoga has been recommended as part of your treatment programme, you should remember that it is not a quick fix. It can take a long time to learn the poses and stances required in the exercise, but the wonderful thing about it is that it teaches you both patience and commitment. If you are willing to practice, you can reap massive rewards. By learning how to practice yoga properly, you will see a vast improvement in your mental and physical health, which will then change your entire outlook on life.

What Substance Abuse/Addictions Is Yoga Used to Treat?

  • Shopping Addiction
  • Food Addiction
  • Love and Sex Addiction
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How Does Yoga Help in Addiction Recovery?

A comprehensive recovery programme for addiction will typically include a variety of techniques, including traditional counselling and holistic alternatives. Yoga is often incorporated into such programmes because of the aforementioned benefits it has on both the mind and the body.

There is a commonly held belief that negative thoughts can lead to negative actions; yoga is thought to help lower stress and improve overall wellbeing. When used in addiction recovery, yoga has several benefits:

  • It can help to relieve pain associated with substance withdrawal
  • It lowers stress levels.
  • Improves your self-confidence by strengthening and shaping the body
  • Encourages self-reflection and awareness
  • Improves strength and stamina
  • Encourages a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • Improves sleeping patterns
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Helps to provide a connection between mind, body, and spirit
  • Encourages emotional healing
  • Improves overall mental and physical health.

As well as assisting in the detox and rehabilitation phase, yoga is a practice that can be taken with you on your return to everyday life. This means you can use it to help prevent a relapse. Yoga is used by many recovering addicts as a healthy outlet that they can utilise when dealing with cravings and triggers.

Substance abuse can cause certain pathways in the brain to be altered. The ability to make good decisions is often affected by these changes while pleasure centres can also be negatively affected. Fortunately, in the same way, the brain can be moulded around substance abuse and addiction, it can also be rewired around recovery. Yoga can be an instrumental tool when it comes to teaching the brain to live without mood-altering chemicals.

Yoga helps to reduce stress levels, which can play a role in addressing the imbalance of chemicals in the brain that causes symptoms such as depression and anxiety. It is also thought to stimulate the production of GABA in the brain; GABA is responsible for regulating excitability. Scientists believe that the more GABA in the brain there is, the less likely it is that you will feel stressed or anxious. In this sense, yoga can help improve mood.

As you might imagine, yoga is a commonly used technique for those suffering from conditions where the main symptoms are depression or anxiety. It is this very reason that it is often used in the treatment of addiction withdrawal as well as co-occurring mental health disorders.

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Yoga Techniques

There are many different techniques and types of yoga used. Below we list a few examples for you:

  • Anusara – Anusara yoga is a form of yoga that was first developed by John Friend. It is based on a less formal approach and students are encouraged to be more creative with their poses instead of trying to get the same pose as everyone else.
  • Bikram – Bikram yoga takes place in a sauna-style room where the heat is cranked up and the humidity is high. Bikram yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury and it involves a series of 26 various poses.
  • Ashtanga – When it comes to Ashtanga yoga, six different pose sequences are learned. Students begin learning the primary series of poses and will only move on to the second series once they have made progress with the first. Each pose follows the next quite quickly with an inhale and exhale. This is known as vinyasa. Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous form of yoga that will get your heart pumping as you try to keep up the pace.
  • Hatha – Hatha yoga is a term that is used to describe the art of yoga that teaches physical posing. Almost all yoga taught these days is Hatha yoga. While Hatha yoga is not very intense and unlikely to cause you to work up a sweat, it will help you to feel more relaxed and looser.
  • Iyengar – This style of yoga is all about precision and getting the poses correct. Proper alignment is required, and a few props may be used to help you achieve this including straps, chairs, blocks, and bolsters. Iyengar yoga is more about staying still and getting the poses right than it is about jumping around, so you are unlikely to get your heart rate up. However, concentrating on the poses will help to challenge you both mentally and physically.
  • Restorative – Restorative yoga aims to heal the mind and body with basic poses that you will hold for as long as twenty minutes. There are various props to help you stay in position. The emphasis is more on relaxation than anything else with restorative yoga; additionally, there is no requirement for any physical effort to be exerted.
  • Kundalini – Kundalini yoga incorporates simple, repeated movements with chanting, meditation, and breathing techniques. Movements are known as kriya and each one is repeated and synchronised with breathing. It is a blend of physical and spiritual practices with the goal of increasing spiritual awareness and physical strength.
  • Vinyasa – Vinyasa is a fast-paced style of yoga that is often referred to as power yoga. You will need to be continually moving during your class while taking part in a sequence of poses. The most well-known sequence of yoga poses is known as the sun sequence, where your movements will flow from one pose to another.
  • Yin – Yin yoga is a slow style of yoga where poses are held for five minutes or more. Although not a vigorous style of yoga, yin can be challenging for those not used to holding their body in one position for an extended period. The aim of this style of yoga is to improve flexibility and increase circulation. It also helps to heal the mind through the power of relaxation.
  • Hot Yoga – In a similar style to Bikram yoga, hot yoga takes place in a heated room. However, the main difference between them is that you are not restricted to following the Bikram sequences of poses. The aim of this type of yoga is to help you sweat out any toxins in the body while also working on improving both physical and mental strength.

How Yoga Differs from Other Psychotherapies?

Perhaps one of the most significant differences between yoga and other psychotherapies is the fact that yoga attempts to heal both mind and body. Yoga can help to reduce stress while simultaneously improve stamina and increase physical strength.

As just mentioned above, yoga can heal both the mind and body and has become a powerful tool in treating different health problems. The great thing about yoga is that it can be incorporated into a mindful fitness programme, which can be an effective tool in addiction recovery.

Yoga is not a substitute for psychotherapy but when used concurrently can greatly benefit those in recovery from a variety of health issues.

Co-Occurring Mental Disorders Yoga Treats Include:

  • Depression
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Mood Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis

Other Supplemental Therapies

  • Art Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Fitness therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
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