Yoga is best exercise in early recovery
Heavy exercise is not recommended in early recovery. First of all, it puts substantial strain on the already damaged central nervous system which is in process of recovering from substance abuse. This may trigger a health crisis. Secondly, individuals who indulge in strenuous physical exercise such as weight-lifting, begin to feel that they have already ‘recovered’. They may not realize that this feeling is merely on a physical level. Since addiction affects all areas of the addict, they need to address their cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual areas too. This takes time. Heavy physical exercise may make them complacent and vulnerable for relapse.
Yoga is an effective tool in addiction recovery for several reasons. Some are:
Yoga Teaches New Coping Skills
A primary area of concern for addiction treatment is the addict’s inability to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. Addiction therapy mainly focuses on helping the individual in identifying the negative thoughts and emotions and learning to manage these. Yoga teaches new and effective stress-management techniques such as deep breathing to help manage thoughts and emotions.
Yoga Helps Individuals Achieve Peace and Balance
Addicted persons usually carry a lot of suppressed anger within themselves. This may be directed towards self (guilt and shame) or others (blaming and resentment). They abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to calm these uncomfortable emotions. They lack a sense of balance and inner peace. The 12 Step approach helps in one’s situation and shortcomings. Similarly, Yoga helps in balancing inner and outer peace by achieving balance – something other types of exercise may not.
Yoga Encourages Spirituality
Addiction causes spiritual erosion. Meditation and prayer are found to be useful in addiction recovery – as advocated by 12 Step programs. Yoga also encourages the individual to make a spiritual connection through deep utterances and meditation.
Yoga Promotes Self-discipline
Unstructured and unhealthy lifestyle is the hallmark of an active addict. His or her life is determined by drugs and alcohol. High impulsivity is common. Rehabs such as Hope Trust introduce their clients to a structured daily schedule – eating, sleeping, attending sessions and playing on time. It is important for basic health and helps in clearing the mind to be receptive to therapeutic inputs. In recovery, gaining control over impulsivity is important. Negative thoughts and emotions need to be replaced with positive action. Again, Yoga helps in achieving these goals.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, recently getting worldwide popularity. Yoga is a natural mood-stabilizer, releases negativity and promotes overall wellbeing. In the past decade, it is increasingly been used in addiction treatment.
Since its inception in 2002, Hope Trust rehab has integrated Yoga in its addiction treatment program. Yoga supplements the 12 Step centred approach that also includes Mindfulness (meditation), CBT, individual and group therapy, audio-video inputs, nutritious diet, recreation and medical/ psychiatric back up. The experience of Hope Trust is that Yoga is an excellent tool for individuals seeking to build a new life free from alcohol or drug addiction.