Yoga can bring about transformation; from shyness to confidence, from awkwardness to grace, from weakness to strength. This change occurs from the poses, from the discipline of yoga and from other practices such as breath-work and meditation.
Yoga for people who are suffering with or recovering from addictions offers another powerful type of transformation. The transformative key in using yoga for healing from addiction lies in the union of body, mind and spirit. This union helps to let go of pain from the past and eases suffering in the present moment, one breath at a time.
Yoga Helps Bring Physical and Emotional Healing
Addiction gives us a way to disconnect from our feelings. We use alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, negative thoughts and other toxic comforts as a way of disconnecting from something in our lives that is bringing us pain. Simple breathwork can provide the opportunity to let the pain of the past go and reconnect to the good feelings that are born with each new breath. Practicing the poses, feeling the grounding of them is also a way to find connection. Bringing the attention to the physical sensations in the body is a way to ground your body into the freshness of the present moment.
Addiction not only provides a way to disconnect from your emotions, but also a way to disconnect from your body. Yoga brings you back into connection with your body at the deepest level, allowing you to learn to trust your body, and to tap into its condition, strength and what it is capable of. Mindful yoga practice, with kind, helpful, and useful cues can bring you back to the feelings in your body with each breath.
Yoga Helps Bring Clarity and Focus
Yoga students have reported that not only have they felt more integrated during yoga class, but their abilities to concentrate and comprehend outside of the yoga practice has improved. Those with attention deficit disorders and other diagnosis return to the yoga mat each week to continue to experience these positive results.
One of the most powerful ways to create a clear and focused mind is through the practice of repetition of positive habits and practices. Practicing yoga on a regular basis as a method of combatting the stress that addiction is often comforting is a positive habit. Positive physical habits over time lead to positive habits of mind, or Samskara. These positive habits of mind are healing for anyone seeking to realign their habits after deciding to leave an addiction.
Yoga Helps Bring Deep Relaxation and Sleep
Letting go of addiction may make you feel anxious or even threatened. Addiction brings a false sense of relaxation. In the moment, you feel relaxed, but becuase all addictions are toxic, the toxicity causes tension and imbalance in your body down the line. Yoga for addiction teaches that breath is the gateway to freedom. Breathing, in the sacred space of a yoga practice, can offer a moment to release and relax in safety. Taking a few minutes for focused breathing each day, sets the stage for a phenomenal shift. Sitting with the spine tall, breathing slowly can be calming. The breath can bring you into your body and into the moment – powerful for anyone and incredibly healing to those who are suffering from addiction. Using the breath practices, moving through the poses, stretching, and finding final tranquility pose at the culmination of a yoga class can bring a sweet sense of relaxation.
Savasana provides a way to find peace in a healthy way. A yoga class conventionally concludes with Savasana. Savasna is the \”dessert\” after a hearty meal of strength, stretch and movement. Sometimes in silence and sometimes with a guided form of body awareness, Savasana offers another chance to check in with your feelings. Feeling relaxed due to your own efforts can be truly inspiring and gratifying.
A yoga practice that finishes in Savasana ends with soft features and smiles – reporting feelings of well-being: “I haven’t felt relaxed in years.” “This is so mellow, I am definitely coming back!”, and “That was so cool, I wasn’t asleep, but I was.” Time and again students have returned to yoga class declaring that they had the best night sleep, the first full night’s sleep after their last class.
Yoga Helps Bring Acceptance
One of the big parts of yoga is to accept who we are, where we are, at any moment in time. We find the edges of our abilities, our capacities and our anatomy while we practice our poses. What we learn about ourselves on the mat, we can generalize to become aware of about ourselves off the mat.
The concept of acceptance is key when healing from addiction. Practicing the awareness of our abilities and of our edges is a useful part of the practice of yoga for addiction. It helps us to nurture self love – loving ourselves just as we are.
Combining breath, movement, relaxation and awareness you can come into complete acceptance for yourself and healing from addiction can come on the mat, one breath at a time.
Want to Learn More?
This article was written by Kyczy Hawk, the author of an inspiring and practical guide to using yoga to move through addiction, Yoga and the Twelve Step Path. You can also stay inspired by checking our Kyczy\’s website and following her on Facebook. If you are struggling with a major addiction it is important to seek out the support of a community. We\’ve been finding alot of support with Gaiam TV\’s yoga programs. Many of the best yoga teachers in the world including Sean Corne and Rodney Yee have detoxification and stress release yoga programs that you can stream right through your computer or tv. Their gentle words as they guide you through the movements can be a transformative experience in your living room 🙂
Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200 is an author and yoga instructor specializing in teaching yoga to people in recovery and the creator of the SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) certification program for yoga teachers. She teaches in recovery centers and jail, and holds Y12SR meetings in the San Jose, CA area. Kyczy is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path” available online and in bookstores. Follow Kyczy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yoga-and-the-Twelve-Step-Path