When we begin our recovery, some things are obvious. We obviously need to go through detoxification as we become sober. Therapy makes a lot of sense, we have been through a lot. Meditation can be very calming and help us clear our minds. Learning coping skills, having some recreation and group activities… all of these make sense. One thing stands out, though: why is yoga a part of recovery?
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice that is thousands of years old. Originally, it was a spiritual practice, handed down through generations. Modern yoga is often seen as more of a physical workout. Many do find it very relaxing and find that it centers them, or helps them to feel mentally and physically well.
The truth is that yoga is a physical, spiritual and mental workout. The holistic focus of yoga does so much more than make us burn calories, sweat, or tone our muscles. Yoga also helps us feel relaxed, focused, and mentally healthy, too. There are three main components of yoga that help us to be well:
1) Breathe – a big part of yoga is to learn and practice deep breathing. This helps in multiple ways. Breathing is a cleansing practice. Not only are we focusing on taking in more oxygen, which helps our bodies and minds, but we also focus on exhaling. When we exhale, the air leaves our bodies, but negative energy is also released with each time we breathe out. Breathing helps us to cleanse our minds, bodies, and spirits and to invite new, healing oxygen and energy into our bodies. It is not just about the physical exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Breathing is healing on a physical and emotional level.
The focus we acquire as we breathe is also very beneficial. We become more in tune with how our bodies are feeling and what is going on inside of them. This is so healing after substance use, where we physically punished our bodies and emotionally disconnect from our physical and mental pain. With every deep, cleansing breath that we take, we are healing the mental and emotional connections to our physical bodies.
2) Meditate – meditation hones our minds and acts as a workout for the control center of our bodies. As Yoga is a meditative practice by nature, we increase our ability to focus and clear our minds. This is very calming and relaxing for many of us who have physical side effects from substance abuse that make it difficult for us to hold still or remain calm and relaxed.
Meditation also helps us to exercise the part of our minds that will help us to control our cravings. The more we meditate, the better we get at conditioning our minds to resist cravings. Meditation is a very powerful tool against substance cravings, which impact us mentally, emotionally and physically. The mental conditioning and healing that yoga provides is exactly what we need in our recovery.
3) Tone Our Bodies – this is one of the obvious benefits, as many of us know yoga to be a physically challenging endeavor. The stretching and holding of various positions does wonders for the body in the recovery process. It may not seem like it would be much of a physically demanding workout, but the act of holding our bodies still is an excellent physical challenge. This is healing, as our bodies have suffered a lot during our substance use. Learning to use them in a way that requires strength and relaxation, concentration and endurance, all at the same time, helps us to improve our body strength, conditioning, and control.
This focused, intense muscle workout also helps us to regain mastery over our bodies. Not just the ability to hold still and stretch and hold our muscles into unholy positions, but the ability to control what our bodies are doing. We can feel the sensations as we stretch and hold, we can be acutely aware of everything going on in our bodies. For us to focus mentally, emotionally, and physically can be exceptionally healing.
Yoga is not just any exercise. It is a complete, holistic workout for the mind, body, and soul. While that would be healthy for anyone, yoga is particularly helpful in helping us heal from substance abuse. It is kind of like re-learning to walk, except the skills we acquire such as breathing, meditation, and toning of our bodies may be new skills to us. Yoga empowers us to take control and heal our minds, bodies, and souls in a way that is realistic and helpful.
Your recovery should heal you holistically – emotionally, mentally, and physically. Yoga is a rigorous and demanding workout for all aspects of your being. You can recover without yoga, but the benefits of yoga are beneficial to explore as you progress on the journey of sobriety.
Yoga can take your weaknesses and makes them strengths. It can give you more power and control over your body, mind, and soul than you may have ever thought was possible. This is why yoga is a part of recovery. The mindfulness of self and healing that occurs can improve life in significant ways, and you are worth that.
Find out the value of yoga in recovery. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 today. You can heal your mind, body, and soul.