The hallmark of addictive behavior is when you compulsively engage in reckless behavior in spite of the consequences. In substance use, this behavior usually presents as seeking out and using drugs or alcohol. Yoga can interrupt this cycle of addiction.
Addiction begins with comfort or pleasure. We naturally move toward things that are pleasant and away from things that are unpleasant. The first time a potentially addictive substance is used, it creates pleasure, and your brain creates a craving for it in the future. Chemicals are released in the brain associated with harmful behaviors, but those chemicals make those behaviors feel good. Things start to feel bad when we don’t engage in those behaviors. Cravings happen.
Craving is an uncomfortable physical state. We want to move away from it. The discomfort of cravings subsides when the behavior is reinforced. At some point, drugs, alcohol, or other addictions might no longer bring the same pleasurable feelings. Still, we reach for it anyway because we mistakenly believe it will help us get rid of the discomfort of cravings.
A study in 2012 found that the brain is changed in the same way whether you are addicted to alcohol, drugs, internet activity, sex, food, or any other habit. The body and its feelings are at the center of our compulsions. People move toward addiction and relapse to move away from things that are uncomfortable, even depression, anxiety, or fear. But yoga therapy for addiction can help.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is any use of yoga in part of your addiction treatment, often geared toward helping you break the habit of addictive behaviors, especially when things are uncomfortable. Yoga therapy can take the form of group sessions where you participate in a yoga class led by an instructor alongside other participants. It can be a constructive part of your residential or outpatient rehabilitation.
What are the Benefits of Yoga Therapy?
Research has found yoga can help interrupt our cycle of choosing an addictive behavior when things are uncomfortable in life. Like many types of physical therapy, yoga can reduce cravings for addicts, including cigarette smokers. For more severe addictions, such as heroin or cocaine, yoga therapy is often used alongside traditional approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy.
Yoga is an increasingly common form of therapy. Addiction yoga therapy is specifically used because of its many abilities to retrain the mind to deal with moderate stress and anxiety.
With standard yoga therapy for addiction, the practice itself does not have to be particularly physically strenuous to reap benefits. What matters more is the internal focus on breathing and movements. A good teacher will guide inhaling and exhaling with each movement following the movements. Practices like body flow Vinyasa changes movements for every inhale and exhale. Even if an individual practice has you maintain a position for a specified count, like ten breaths in and out, the action of focusing on the present and focusing on the breath helps reduce external stress and cope with triggers that may have previously led to drug use.
Discomfort is a natural part of life, yet we often avoid it. Mindfulness meditation and Buddhism explains that working to prevent anxiety only worsens your stress because adverse things will happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them in life. As such, addiction yoga therapy helps you accept these events, through calming body and mind exercises. You breathe through the discomfort, knowing that it’s only temporary, that you will move into a new position within a few seconds. Retraining the mind to focus on this move through discomfort can help people struggling with addiction learn to appreciate that discomfort in their daily lives will happen, but they can move through it, and they can learn to accept it with the idea that it will get better down the line, that all discomfort is temporary.
How is Yoga Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment?
Yoga therapy is considered to be a form of holistic addiction treatment. Holistic addiction therapy is an approach to treatment that goes beyond traditional, evidence-based practices. Holistic treatment often generally focuses on whole-body healing, compiling physical, mental, and spiritual healing. Marina Harbor Detox offers holistic addiction treatment in San Francisco alongside traditional practices, so everyone can find the method that works best for them.
Yoga can be used in addiction treatment to help you get healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yoga can be used as part of your holistic treatment in conjunction with medications and other psychotherapy. With addiction yoga therapy, you reap the benefits of improving your physical strength, meditating to a degree, and learning to live with discomfort so that you can break the habit of addictive behaviors.
How to Find Yoga Therapy for Addiction Recovery
If you are ready to find yoga therapy for addiction recovery, let Marina Harbor Detox help. Our Bay Area rehab facility offers a supportive environment where you can fill your recovery with healthy eating options, yoga classes, meditation, and other individual and group therapies that best suit your needs. No matter the addiction with which you struggle, our facility can help you find yoga therapy that is well-suited to help you break negative habits surrounding discomfort.
Contact Marina Harbor Detox today to learn how yoga therapy and holistic addiction treatment can be used in your recovery process.