Addiction changes your brain’s structure, and many recovering addicts I know neglect their physical health. Now that you’re in recovery, you’re ready to start taking care of your mind and your body. If your entire being is nurtured and fortified, you will have more strength and willpower to break free and stay free.
I highly recommend yoga. It strengthens you mentally and physically and it can steel you against addiction. Here are six wonderful benefits of this ancient, mind-body practice:
1. Yoga Strengthens Your Mind
On the yoga mat, you focus on the present. You don’t worry about stressful situations or temptations to use. Why not put this present-thinking mindset to work for you when you face challenges off the yoga mat, too? Whenever you start to feel stress, anger or despair, lasso your thoughts, bring them back to the present, and use your strong mind to live soberly.
2. Yoga Rebuilds Your Body
As an addict, your priorities might have been stuck on getting, using, and enjoying your drug of choice, not on visiting the doctor or dentist, eating balanced meals, or getting enough sleep. Your body is now run-down and abused. Yoga strengthens your whole self as you stretch, bend, and pose. Deep breathing encourages circulation and peace. While you inhale and exhale, imagine cycling out the old and welcoming the new. As your body grows lean and fluid, you will find satisfaction in eating better and refusing to allow toxins into your body.
3. Yoga Diminishes Addiction Triggers
Think about the triggers that tempt you to use. Are they work pressures, former friends, or annual holidays? Instead of focusing on your triggers and risking a relapse, unroll your yoga mat and relish a deep, long breath. Deliver your mind to the here and now. Imagine life clean and free. Count your blessings. Focus on your goals. With each breath, unwind the tension. While I don’t guarantee that yoga will fully break the hold your triggers have over you, I know it can diminish those triggers and empower you to take positive steps toward maintaining sobriety.
4. Yoga Improves Your Physical and Emotional Posture
Mayo Clinic reports that environmental and genetic factors primarily cause addiction. This can mean that you’ve suffered from emotional trauma, abuse, criticism and stress throughout your life. A colossal tragedy can also plummet someone into the depths of addiction. Yoga encourages you to stand tall and open up your heart. As your body and soul unwind, you will be able to welcome healing and self-love. I always encourage recovering addicts to work through their emotional pain with a therapist and yoga can go hand-in-hand with this journey.
5. Yoga Helps You Envision a Sober Life
Do you ever like to imagine you’re at the beach? Do you often daydream about how life will be clean? Yoga can help you with that. More blood flow and deep breathing can unlock your imagination and let it soar! With it, envision yourself enjoying all of the things you couldn’t do when you were addicted, like being a healthy part of your family, keeping a job you love and pursuing your dreams.
6. Yoga Puts the 11th Step Into Practice
In the popular 12-Step recovery program, the 11th step embraces prayer and meditation. Use yoga to invite meditation into your life. There are many poses and breathing techniques that can guide you into a meditative state. The fog will lift from your mind with every breath. Your body is a temple and yoga can purify and expand it.
Yoga offers key emotional, physical and mental benefits that can make it an essential to your recovery journey. As a counselor I am gifted to be part of it and I am always seeking out ways I believe can help so I can share them with all of you. I have witnessed the transformative power of yoga and I encourage you to give it a go.