The Incredible Benefits of Yoga for Addiction Recovery


According to the Surgeon General, 1-in-7 people in the U.S. will face substance addictions. With almost 21 million Americans dealing with addiction, its a dangerous problem. Thankfully, the right recovery center can help.

Did you know that using yoga can help with addictive behaviors? As a method of holistic treatment, yoga helps individuals through the recovery process.

Many recovery centers include yoga as a method of therapy to help people through withdrawal symptoms and to manage stress. Yoga also helps to balance both the mind and body which reduces addictive behaviors.

The evidence might surprise you. Keep reading to learn all about the many benefits to using yoga for addiction recovery.

Reduces Stress

One of the many benefits of yoga is a reduction in levels of stress. Learning mindfulness and even practicing simple breathing techniques helps to minimize stress.

Yoga for recovery works as a method of residential treatment because of its stress-reducing benefits.

When stress triggers addictive behaviors, yoga techniques can help prevent bad habits. By winning out over temptation, recovery patients feel better about themselves.

As an added benefit, yoga boosts your mood and improves your willpower which also helps lower stress.

Helps Control Addictions and Cravings

Addiction alters the brain, impacting both brain structure and function. Because of this, overcoming addiction isn’t as simple as saying no.

Drugs, alcohol, and other addictions hijack the brain. They fill the nucleus accumbens with an overabundance of dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that leads to feelings of pleasure as part of a reward system. Addiction creates an overabundance of pleasure that often leads to drug misuse, including overdoses.

But one of the benefits of recovery yoga is that it returns the brain’s dopamine levels back to normal. This helps to suppress unhealthy cravings tied to that rush of dopamine in the brain.

Increases Self Awareness

Practicing yoga on a regular basis allows patients to become attuned to their own bodies. They can recognize the warning signs of addictive behavior before it happens.

Noticing and acknowledging cravings as they happen is critical to keeping them in check. Instead of ignoring the signs, individuals learn to listen and understand their bodies in a non-judgemental way.

Reduces Anxiety with GABA

Another benefit to yoga is a healthy increase in GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and stress. Both stress and anxiety are common in patients suffering from drug withdrawals.

When someone experiences stress or anxiety, their heart rate, and blood pressure rise. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline also rise in response to that feeling.

Regular yoga may enhance and enlarge certain areas of the brain responsible for stress reduction, such as the hippocampus.

Allows Patients to Regain Control

Many people that struggle with addiction feel they have no control over their lives. They may feel like they’re caught in a downward spiral and are unable to pull themselves back up.

Because of the impact of addiction on the brain itself, it can be hard to feel like you’re in control of your own body.

Yoga teaches people discipline. Instead of reacting emotionally, people learn to evaluate their responses and control their temper.

People that practice yoga treatment for recovery often find it easier to take responsibility for their own choices. This helps to reestablish a sense of control over the body and mind. It feels like a win in the battle against addiction.

Creates a Spiritual Awakening

Yoga is an ancient practice that stimulates your spiritual senses. You don’t have to be religious or understand spirituality to practice yoga, either.

Yoga is far more than a physical exercise because a large part of this practice is mental. Individuals learn to view themselves in a new light, evaluating the way they think and act and how that impacts the world around them.

By practicing yoga and meditation, people learn to observe their environment. They understand there are factors outside their control.

You cannot stop the sounds of a barking dog or fix an angry boss, for example. Giving up control and simply observing has a cathartic effect on individuals dealing with addictive behaviors.

Helps with Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the effects of yoga is that it helps during drug detoxification. Holistic methods like yoga and exercise therapy work in tandem with other treatment methods during detox.

Besides stress and anxiety, people may experience agitation, guilt, and low self-esteem. These are all common withdrawal symptoms during detox that behavioral therapy and yoga can correct.

Practicing yoga on a regular basis teaches people patience. It also helps them to change negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones. Individuals learn not to let feelings of guilt or shame overwhelm them.

Creates a Sense of Inner Peace

Regular relaxation and meditation techniques promote a sense of calm and inner peace. People who practice yoga often find themselves feeling stronger emotionally.

Yoga allows people to focus on mindfulness rather than temptations, which aids in impulse control. This inner strength helps patients regain a sense of confidence.

Helps Prevent Relapses

Relapse is so common after recovery that roughly 90 percent of people have a slip before they defeat addiction. But patients can prevent the chances of relapse after recovery by recognizing the signs and practicing yoga.

Those that practice yoga for addiction become attuned to their body. They recognize the warning signs of relapse before it happens.

Yoga also prevents many of the mindsets and behaviors associated with relapses such as loss of judgment and control.

Practicing relaxation techniques and exercises like yoga help to combat negative thoughts. It encourages individuals to examine and accept their feelings instead of ignoring them.

Practicing Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Using yoga for addiction recovery is a holistic method of treatment that helps individuals overcome addictive behaviors and cravings. Along with other methods of treatment, yoga helps people regain control and balance of their mind and body.

The road to recovery is long and filled with many obstacles, but practicing yoga is one way to prevent a relapse. Plus, yoga is a life-long skill that people struggling with addiction can turn to at any time.

Want to learn more about our yoga therapy or need help dealing with addiction? Contact us to learn more about our treatment services and get help today.

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Article Reviewed by Lidice Morales

Lidice MoralesLidice Morales, an honors graduate from the Kaiser University, has made a name for herself as the Director of Nursing at several behavioral health facilities and as the Director of Operations for Detox MD. Now she is the VP of Operations at DreamLife Recovery. She strives for better patient care through constant self-improvement and furthering her education. Her steadfast work ethic and passion in the field has remained the most important aspect of her professional career; showing dedication to not only the acquisition of new knowledge, but also its mastery. Lidice believes that a professional work atmosphere fosters cohesion and malleability amongst herself and her coworkers; thereby increasing both the level of patient care and quality of life.

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