Yoga is a mindfulness exercise that helps people deal with situations that bring stress like substance addiction. Yoga uses both mental and physical techniques to target the part of the brain affected by substance use. This method can help reduce cravings and is most effective when combined with traditional substance abuse treatment.

Practicing yoga helps the physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines help boost mood and sense of well-being. Yoga uses breathing modulations, meditation techniques, and body posture to promote relaxation, physical strength, and spirituality.

Some patients will practice yoga to manage their depression and anxiety; both mental health disorders usually co-occur alongside addiction.

A study from 2014 estimated that 21.4 million people in America aged 12 years or older battled substance addiction, which equals roughly 1 in every 12 adults. Many programs and methods are available to treat substance addiction ranging from alternative, traditional, holistic, and complementary treatment therapy.

Yoga for substance recovery addiction has many benefits, which include:

  • Stress relief
  • Increased physical strength and stamina
  • Enhanced self-reflection and self-awareness
  • Improved eating habits and exercise
  • Enhanced self-confidence and self-image
  • Pain relief
  • Sounder sleep
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Emotional healing
  • Improvement in overall health and wellness

Yoga is more frequently used in rehab programs to help reduce symptoms, drug cravings, and prevent relapse. Yoga provides other benefits as a healthy outlet to help people deal with triggers and daily life stress.

Research has shown that yoga and other mindfulness exercises can be coupled with traditional, evidence-based therapy to help patients overcome mental health and substance use disorders.

Yoga for Recovery of Addiction

Many studies have implied that mindfulness activities, like yoga, can help patients overcome addiction when used with conventional treatment. The meditation effect that comes with practicing yoga on the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain could be why.

Research on yoga’s effect in rehab included 18 people battling alcoholism and practiced yoga or traditional addiction treatment. The results revealed that the largest reduction in drinking occurred among the group that practiced yoga for recovery addiction.

Yoga can also help people with heroin addiction, which has caused about 16,000 deaths in 2016 across the nation. A study showed that yoga could significantly improve the quality of life and mood in female heroin users undergoing medical detox treatment. Researchers concluded that yoga could be practiced alongside traditional rehab to treat heroin addiction.

It was also said that patients battling substance use disorders might not possess cerebral balance, which keeps them focused on cravings. Through yoga, patients can concentrate on mindfulness instead of immediate physical desires.

Rehab patients could deal with many emotions, like stress and anxiety, during the treatment process. Studies have shown that stress can trigger patients recovering from substance addiction to relapse, but yoga for recovery addiction can help ease tension and triggers.

It is recommended that patients in rehab incorporate yoga into their daily routines, especially during the initial process. Yoga for recovery addiction becomes most effective when coupled with traditional therapy sessions, like group therapy and 12-step meetings.

Benefits of Yoga During Rehab

Yoga is an excellent recovery tool and coping mechanism for feelings of anxiety. Yoga can help to heal the mind and body through therapeutic physical exercise. 

Some benefits of yoga for recovery addiction include:

  • Physical benefits – After each class is done, patients find themselves feeling stronger and more flexible. Withdrawal symptoms like aches and pains may also begin to lighten. 
  • Reducing stress benefits – Through gentle movements and relaxing breathing exercises, patients find that their nerves will calm. As a result, yoga can help decrease cravings and treat psychological trauma or distress regarding addiction.
  • Emotional benefits – A more comprehensive peace of mind comes to most patients who practice yoga. As a result, they’re able to become in tune with new and better coping mechanisms.
  • Increased self-discipline – Substance addiction can be a powerful challenge to navigate. Learning to say no is a development practiced in yoga that can also be learned. It is an exercise that requires discipline, therefore also helping patients developing the trait.
  • Inner peace – The spiritual advantages of yoga can provide an enormous amount of inner peace. Through practicing yoga meditation, patients can connect to a deeper part of themselves, along with the outside world. 

Medical benefits of yoga for recovery addiction include:

  • Decreased pain
  • Regenerated bone density
  • Enhanced balance
  • Improved immunity
  • Reduced resting heart rate

How Yoga Effects the Brain

After long-term, frequent drug or alcohol abuse, the brain’s pathways become altered. The pathways linked with feeling pleasure, managing emotions, making quality decisions, and controlling impulses could become negatively affected. From there, circuitry and brain chemistry can rebuild and heal itself without the impact of drugs or alcohol. Yoga can also help with that. 

For a long time now, yoga has long been used to help reduce stress. Scientific evidence has proved a link between yoga and decreasing stress by the inflection of the stress response. 

When someone becomes stressed, their blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature increase. However, yoga can act on this system by balancing and regulating stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Grey matter and brain regions that control stress, like the hippocampus, can also be increased with yoga’s regular practice.

Studies have also shown that practicing yoga techniques can increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a natural tranquilizer created by the brain to help control stress and anxiety responses. Higher levels of GABA usually mean you’ll experience less stress and anxiety. Depression, stress, and anxiety are common side effects of withdrawal symptoms, and practicing yoga for recovery addiction could improve these symptoms.

Yoga’s Connection to the Body and Soul

Practicing yoga exercises can help balance some parts of the body and brain impacted by long-term substance abuse. Additionally, to the physical benefits of yoga, there are several emotional benefits too. When patients practice yoga for recovery addiction, they become attuned to their bodies and learn how to control their breathing. This creates self-awareness of how things can make someone feel a certain way in a non-judgemental manner.

By concentrating all energy inward, patients can learn how to take ownership of their feelings and gain control over themselves and their consequent actions. This allows them to become more self-reliant and self-confident. They can also learn to recognize cravings when they occur and not give into them. For example, patience practicing yoga for recovery addiction become more equipped to manage these feelings when they become more physically aware.

Yoga exercises can also increase energy levels, encourage better eating, and improve sleep quality disrupted with substance withdrawal symptoms. Patients become physically better and can also handle stress or anything else that comes up throughout the day. More sleep gives them a clear head and less irritability. Physical exercise also helps to improve self-image, as healthy habits can enhance the body’s physical appearance.

Yoga and Spirituality 

During rehab, most 12-step programs help patients garner support, along with spiritual concepts and spirituality. Yoga exercises can help enhance and help patients reach a spiritual connection through mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques. Calming down all outside influences through yoga exercises helps patients find inner peace through self-reflection and personal realization of what they must change to improve their lives.

Yoga exercises are more than just stretching. It is also very beneficial as part of rehab and can be practiced independently. When coupled with other substance addiction treatment, yoga is a great therapy for patients to practice throughout their lives to calm themselves and enhance their clarity when needed.

Yoga and Mental Health Disorders

Yoga can also help people who have mental health disorders, which can co-occur with addiction. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients are at greater risk than the general population for substance abuse.

A study in 2014 found that specialized yoga exercises can help people with PTSD reduce their substance use. Yoga also promoted interest in evidence-based treatments, like cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Researchers weighed the effect of yoga on substance abuse behaviors in women who also had PTSD. The yoga intervention consisted of a dozen yoga sessions that were 75 minutes each. Researchers adjusted some poses and included trauma-sensitive yoga techniques, which use non-threatening communication and avoid physical contact.

A month after the clinical trial, approximately 70 percent of participants stated their PTSD symptoms were less prominent. Conversely, more than 90 percent of a group who received assessments rather than yoga were more conscious of their symptoms.

Unity Behavioral Health Offers Yoga for Recovery Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction are illnesses that can control many aspects of someone’s life. The thought of rehab at a traditional center, attending group and individual therapy sessions might not sound helpful for some. But, with holistic approaches to treatment combined with traditional therapy, rehab can become fun and rewarding.

Here at Unity Behavioral Health, we offer yoga for recovery addiction and many other treatment methods. If you or a loved one suffers from substance addiction, know that holistic approaches to treatment are available. Do not hesitate any longer; contact us today at Unity Behavioral Health and allow our treatment staff to answer all questions you have regarding yoga for recovery addiction.

Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.


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