Can Yoga Help Beat Drug Addiction?

Photo by LapriZ

Recovering from drug addiction is a constant uphill battle, often filled with hopelessness and exhaustion. Yoga may not be a cure all, but it can help. When it comes to fighting drug addiction, anything that could help seems worth trying, and there are multiple benefits of trying yoga.

This is your brain on yoga

Your brain loves yoga. Yoga has been shown to decrease your brain’s response to stress and increase its ability to handle uncomfortable situations. For the recovering addict that means yoga can help you keep control of your brain and stay calm even as your body struggles through the withdrawals that come with recovery.

But that’s not the only way yoga positively affects your brain during the recovery process. Roy King, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University, found that yoga can inhibit the dopamine surge that comes with drug use. In addition, pranayama breathing techniques release endorphins, which gives your brain a healthy and natural dose of the pleasure response it craves when refused drugs.

Taking the 11th step

It’s not just the chemical effects of yoga that are so powerful. Yoga can provide a powerful spiritual community as well. The 11th step in the famed 12-step process is to use prayer and meditation to connect with a higher power. This can mean different things to everyone: some may attend church, others might explore their own personal spirituality, but regardless of your personal beliefs, yoga definitely provides a supportive spiritual community.

Most yoga teachers will preach about union and oneness in their classes. With enough yoga and meditation you are bound to know what they are talking about soon enough. No matter what you name your spirituality, yoga can help support that and give you a safe environment to explore what spirituality means to you. Addiction can cause you to feel disconnected—from your body, your community, and the bigger picture. Yoga can help you reconnect and move forward.

Find the support you are lacking

Whether you have a group of family and friends supporting your recovery process or you are entering the battle on your own, it’s easy to feel lonely and unsupported during the struggle of recovery. Yoga and meditation can fill that void. Yoga can help you see that you are enough just as you are, without drugs, and that you are strong enough to resist the call of cravings. Yoga can show you just how powerful and beautiful you are and help you learn to support yourself.

Yoga also shows us that we are never alone. Whether we are practicing in the back corner of a massive yoga class or meditating alone in the woods, it’s impossible to practice without feeling the collective nature of our lives. Practicing yoga will introduce you to an incredibly supportive community and help you find the support you need to recover from drug addiction in places you never realized support could exist.

Put your recovery in your own hands

One of the most powerful things about using yoga to support your recovery process is that you are giving yourself control over your addiction. Your yoga and meditation practice is deeply personal and there is only one thing necessary to practice: yourself. When you add yoga and meditation to your recovery toolbox, you are adding a tool that only you can wield. You are taking control of your recovery process, empowering yourself to act, and moving one step closer to living a drug-free life.

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