Most rehab programs will provide one-on-one and group counseling, education, healthful nutrition, recreation and exercise. Daily exercise provides several benefits to the person seeking recovery. It is a natural mood-enhancer, provides a way to release tension and aggression, and promotes overall well-being. Yoga does all these things and more besides.
Many drug rehab centers use 12-Step programs to help patients reach recovery goals. While 12-Step programs can be modified from center to center, there are some portions of the format which are integral to making it so successful. Yoga makes a natural companion to 12-Step based recovery because it shares many of the same goals and teaches participants how to achieve those goals. Here are just a few ways that yoga supports a person’s drug/alcohol rehab efforts.
Yoga Teaches New Coping Mechanisms
At the core of addiction is a person’s inability to cope with difficult thoughts or emotions. Much of counseling will focus on helping patients to recognize this and teaching them new ways to cope with stressful life situations. Yoga teaches the use of controlled breathing as a means of gaining control of thoughts and emotions.
Yoga Helps Individuals Achieve Balanced Peace
Often the person ensnared by addiction is carrying around a load of anger. They may be upset with themselves (guilt) or they may be angry with others. Those who abuse drugs or alcohol may have reached for substances to find an escape because they lacked their own sense of peace. Yoga positions express acceptance. This is a central part of 12-Step recovery – accepting your own failures. On the other hand, deep breathing facilitates physical control. In this way yoga combines inner and outer peace in a way that other forms of exercise do not.
Yoga Emphasizes Making a Spiritual Connection
Another core value in most 12-Step programs is admitting that problems are too big for you to handle alone. The programs encourage participants to reach out to someone bigger than themselves who is capable of handling them. Yoga also emphasizes making a spiritual connection through meditation and prayer.
Yoga Trains a Person in Self-discipline
Impulsivity is a common trait among those who enter a drug/alcohol rehab treatment program. Most 12-Step programs assign concrete actions to help participants develop a systematic plan for addressing past hurts and planning future steps. For those in recovery, finding a way to overrule negative impulses with a positive action can be the single greatest tool gained. Again, yoga supports those goals by giving practitioners tools for positively directing their emotions.
Yoga as part of drug and alcohol recovery has become popular just within the past decade. Now it is not unusual for celebrities to publicly sing the praises of this exercise which helped them in their own rehab experience. And yet, yoga is not a new art. The practice is thousands of years old. And although it benefits all who practice it, the exercise offers particular support to the person forming a new life free from drug or alcohol addiction.