Get on your mat, close your eyes gently, take a deep breath and while at it, re-calibrate your attention towards the breath. Avoid any distractions for 5 minutes or so. Just relax and focus on your breathing patterns.
How do you feel at the end of the session? Feeling stronger and more determined to face life? Well, that’s just a snippet of what adopting a healthy practice that brings mind-body balance can do to your life.
Indeed, mindfulness and recovery are closely intertwined. The first step toward overcoming the dependence on drugs and alcohol is by taking proactive steps in the transformation of your mind, body and spirit. That’s precisely what yoga does. It promotes recovery by enhancing self-awareness and warding off stress-related relapse.
Yoga and Addiction Recovery
Mind-body therapies like yoga have been practised for decades and offer potential ways to reduce stress and improve mood. And while mainstream medicine has been slow in appreciating the role of adjunct health practices, new research shows that these therapies can restore the normal brain chemical balance which is an important part of recovery.
One thing you need to know is that most popular, addictive drugs out there work by increasing the production of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the brain. In fact, the word “dope” comes from the hormone dopamine.
The hormone is associated with feel-good effects. When you have large quantities of it in the brain, you’re bound to feel “high.”
Unfortunately, the drug-induced production of dopamine works at the expense of your established neural connections. The brain stops to independently produce the neurotransmitter and becomes reliant on the drugs to meet that objective – and that’s how one becomes addicted.
Stopping the Dopamine Rush
In order to recover from this dopamine rush, it’s important to re-wire your mind and that’s exactly what yoga does. In so doing, this meditative practice improves your ability to cope with any triggers that would ordinarily lead to a relapse.
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Dr Yadav and his team demonstrated the fact that yoga boosts the production of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals involved in warding off stress.
We all know what stress can do to your recovery process. Indeed, it is worrying that the American Psychological Association reports that 44 per cent of adults reported an increase in stress symptoms by 2011.
When the pressure of stress is mounting, you are at a greater risk of resorting to alcohol and drugs abuse to cope with the situation. Yet, unfortunately, stress is part of everyday living as it may happen due to:
- Deteriorating relationships
- Loss of a job
- Loss of a loved one
- Self-esteem related issues
- Poor academic performance
Therefore, by boosting the production of endorphins, yoga increases your chances of substance addiction recovery. This once again takes us back to mindfulness and recovery. With a strong mind, it’s much easier to overcome the bondage of addiction because ultimately, it’s your mind that controls your actions.
So what exactly does this mean to your overall wellness? Holistic practices aimed at reversing the effects of substance abuse offer a lot more benefits, including:
1. Brain Recovery
When you use drugs for long, some of your brain’s pathways get blocked and altered meaning that your pleasure feelings and the ability to regulate emotions are directly affected. By taking a break from substance abuse and combining that with yoga and meditation, you increase the chances of your brain recovering and re-establishing new neural connections.
The brain is able to rebuild itself and re-equip you with the right mechanism to make better decisions in life and manage emotions in a better manner.
2. Recovery from Stress
The benefits of yoga in stress management cannot be overemphasized. Dr Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, an Assistant Professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School says that “Yoga leads to an increased awareness of what feels good and what doesn’t.”
As such, the more you tune your mind in that regard, the higher your chances of gravitating toward behaviours that are healthy and also away from the unhealthy ones.
At the brain chemistry level, yoga improves your chances of recovering from stress by increasing the production of endorphins and inhibiting the stress-causing hormone known as cortisol. So, indeed that easy-flow stretching session can put one extra tool in your recovery kit.
3. Better Spirituality and Mindfulness
Yoga improves your self-awareness. One thing you need to know about self-awareness is that it’s quite important in helping you recognize your personal power so you can communicate effectively and also set goals. Lack of it creates room for negativity to creep back stealing your ability to focus and throwing your emotions out of control.
It’s no wonder most addicts find it difficult to think beyond getting their next drink or fix. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) acknowledges the fact that self-awareness is an important part of preventing recidivism.
By making you more conscious about your current and future priorities, yoga helps you identify the mental and physical dangers of substance abuse. This, therefore, provides a vital ingredient in the quest for a better life and lower chances of relapse down the road.
4. Better Physical Health
Your body also takes a hit due to addiction. Injecting drugs, for instance, exposes you to a great risk of contracting infections. Also, some mood-altering drugs can affect your appetite either increasing or decreasing it drastically.
Fortunately, the gentle movements that are typical of yoga can help you build a stronger and healthier body. For instance, some yoga poses tend to boost circulation while also lowering blood pressure. The calm breathing techniques can also calm your nerves and promote pain relief. What’s more? The steady movements can also strengthen your muscles and relieve pains.
So, the trick here is to combine yoga with your prescribed-treatments for even better chances of recovery. That’s because, as far as long-term recovery goes, you need a holistic approach so your life becomes more balanced and you’re able to focus on the bigger picture which is living a happier, healthier life.
Getting Holistic Addiction Treatment
Holistic recovery focuses on your overall wellbeing. It addresses the all-important issues of emotional and nutritional imbalances. So, whether you’re battling drug and substance abuse or know someone who is, we highly recommend seeking holistic treatment from a reputable facility near you. For more information, contact us today on 0800 088 66 86 and we shall assist you in this aim. You can also contact us via our online contact form.
Keith stopped using drugs and drinking alcohol more than 10 years ago. He now spends a lot of time writing and editing content for this website. His mission is to assist people who are also looking to embrace addiction recovery. Keith believes a key way to accomplish this goal is through his writing.