Yoga is a common practice for people who want to bring a sense of calm into their lives, get into shape, or connect with their spiritual side. It is also becoming a more common component of substance abuse treatment.
Yoga therapy can help your brain recover from a drug or alcohol addiction. In recent studies, yoga has been shown to increase the levels of GABA in the brain by more than 20 percent. This is important because people dealing with substance abuse usually exhibit low levels of GABA. If an activity such as yoga can increase these levels, even for short periods of time, then people struggling with substance abuse can more conscientiously focus on their recovery.
Benefits of Yoga Therapy for Substance Abuse
Former substance abusers who practice yoga say that yoga fosters the kind of discipline and self-peace that is needed in a 12-step program. That is because yoga forces your mind and body to work in perfect synergy.
Yoga therapy can release pent-up emotions that you might be feeling while in the course of substance abuse treatment. You will learn how to acknowledge and properly channel these emotions when they seem overwhelming. Many asanas (or postures) facilitate acceptance, which is a major theme in many substance abuse treatment programs. Your body will manifest the internal states of mind necessary for recovery from substance abuse.
Yoga therapy has been shown to reduce the following symptoms that often accompany a drug or alcohol addiction:
- Anger and hostility
- Anxiety and tension
- Fatigue and inertia
- Impulsive behaviors
Getting Connected to Yoga Therapy
Like any new sport, hobby, or way of thinking, yoga can be difficult to master or “get into” at first. Learning yoga in a class is a great way to start. Being with a group of yoga learners like you can be therapeutic. Once you are familiar with basic asanas, you can practice at home as a daily or weekly ritual.
Other practitioners of yoga say that it connects them with the divine world, which is another theme in 12-step programs and substance abuse treatment. For those who do not follow any particular religion, yoga can be a safe way to explore the spiritual world, which can offer hope and healing to anyone trying to conquer substance abuse.
Yoga is so popular these days that most cities, even small ones, have at least one yoga class. Ask your counselor, therapist, or substance abuse treatment center to recommend a yoga center to you, or do a simple search on the Internet for people in your area who teach yoga therapy.
If you find that you joined a class that is too challenging, don’t be afraid to switch to a class that meets you at your level and physical capabilities. Like in your 12-step program, have patience with yourself.