From Addiction to Yoga

There are several different practices that are recommended for people who are recovering from an addiction. One of the most talked-about is yoga. This eastern discipline can not only help people improve their physical health, but it is also great for enhancing mental well-being. That is why some of the best rehabs now use yoga as part of their program. It means that when it is time for people to return to their normal lives they will have a good technique for helping them deal with stress. Early recovery can be a treacherous time, so it is vital that people have resources that can provide them with strength. Yoga can certainly do this.

Yoga Explained

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that has been around since at least 3000 BC. In recent decades, it has become fashionable in Western countries as a means to promote health, but it is also a spiritual path. The word yoga is Sanskrit for yoke which means union between mind, body and spirit.

Yoga is most well-known for its exercise postures, but this is actually only one aspect of practice. There are in fact eight limbs of yoga:

* Yama refers to the ethical principles to which followers of the path are expected to adhere. These principles include restraint of behavior, non-violence, not stealing anything, only speaking the truth and avoiding jealousy.
*Niyama are spiritual practices including cleanliness, surrender to a higher power, study of sacred texts, contentment and spiritual austerities.
* Asana are the physical poses that yoga is most famous for.
* Pranayama are the different breathing techniques associated with the practice.
* Pratyahara refers to withdrawal of the senses. This can be in the form of meditative absorption.
* Dharana is intense one-pointed concentration developed in meditation.
* Dhyana is similar to dharana, but the concentration is no longer one-pointed – it can flow.
* Patanjali is a state of meditation where the individual is able to transcend the experience of self. At this point, they will experience feelings of ecstasy.

It is not necessary to practice all the limbs of yoga in order to benefit from the practice. Most people in the west are not so interested in the spiritual parts of the teaching, at least not in the beginning. Just practicing the asana poses and pranayama breathing techniques can make a difference in a person’s life.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been used for thousands of years as a means of promoting mental, physical, and spiritual health. These are some of the benefits of this practice:

* One of the most desirable benefits of yoga is its ability to help people deal better with stress. It is now known that stress is a contributing factor in many types of illness. Yoga not only provides an opportunity to release stress, but it also means that they are better able to handle any stressors that arise during the day. The practice also eases muscle tension and reduces anxiety levels. Studies have shown that the technique is good for reducing cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) levels.
* This practice is great for physical fitness. It improves flexibility and strength. Those who practice yoga into old age get to benefit from younger bodies. The great benefit of this discipline is it brings health benefits without putting too much strain on the body.
* Yoga is one of the most effective practices for achieving relaxation. It is a great way to prevent insomnia. Practitioners claim that it helps them sleep like babies at night.
* Yoga can help with weight control in a number of ways. It is a form of exercise that is not too intense, so people are more likely to practice regularly without being injured. The stress reduction benefits mean that people are less likely to comfort eat. Comfort eating is one of the most common contributors to obesity. This practice also puts people more in touch with their bodies so they become more attentive to taking care of themselves and eating healthy foods.
* Those people who practice yoga regularly will improve their blood circulation. This means lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The practice also reduces the resting heart rate so that the organ does not need to work so hard pumping blood around the body.
* Practitioners of this technique develop a wonderful sense of inner peace. They are happy most of the time and find challenges in life easier to cope with. The development of this inner harmony is reason enough alone to take up the practice.
* Yoga can make impressive changes to an individual’s mental state. It increases the general sense of well-being and any symptoms of depression or anxiety are reduced. It also helps improve mental clarity, concentration and memory.

The Benefits of Yoga for People in Recovery

Yoga is a wonderful practice for people who are recovering from an addiction. Abusing alcohol and drugs always means that people lose touch with their bodies and minds. By practicing these techniques, they can once again become comfortable in their own skin. Yoga can be particularly helpful during the early days of recovery when people are dealing with significant stress and emotional upheaval. The practice can help these individuals cope with life more easily. It also allows them rebuild their physical strength so that they are strong enough to build a successful recovery.

In 12 Step programs, they say that addiction is a threefold disease. It is viewed as mental, physical, and spiritual in nature. Yoga is a unique practice because it is able to benefit the individual in all these areas. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that this practice is ideal for people who are recovering from any type of addiction.

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Beginning a Yoga Practice in Recovery

Beginning a yoga practice does not need to involve too much effort or expense. People can start off slowly with the following tactics:

* It is probably best to have a teacher at least in the beginning. This will ensure that the individual will pick up the basics correctly. Yoga is extremely popular and there are classes almost everywhere. Attending a class can also be a great way to socialize and meet new friends. Getting a teacher is also likely to increase motivation.
* There are different types of yoga, so it is helpful to do a bit of research first before choosing a path. Hatha yoga refers to the more physical types of training. If people are more interested in the breathing techniques they can choose vinyasa.
* The number of books, videos, and other materials on yoga is astounding. Plenty of the material is freely available on the web on YouTube. It is possible for people to teach themselves yoga without a teacher, but they need to be careful. The problem with going solo is that it is easier to pick up injuries. It also means that people will pick up techniques that they do not know how to perform correctly. This means that they won’t get the full benefit.
* There is no need to purchase many accessories in order to practice yoga. All that is really needed is a yoga mat and comfortable clothes that allow people to stretch.
* In order to benefit from the practice, it is vital that people devote regular time to it. At least 20 minutes a day is necessary if people hope to benefit from the practice.
* It is recommended that people do yoga first thing in the morning and just before they go to bed.
* The no pain, no gain attitude does not work with this type of practice. Practitioners need to take it easy so that they avoid injury. It is best to start off with just a few simple poses and then build up to the more complicated poses over time. Even if people never develop beyond the basic poses, they will still benefit greatly from the practice so long as they do these poses regularly.
* Many practitioners find that creating the right atmosphere helps them greatly. It is possible to purchase relaxation music that is created specifically for people who are practicing yoga.
* If people have any health problems, they should speak to their doctor before beginning the practice.
* It can be helpful if people keep on researching yoga as they develop their practice. There is an almost endless amount to learn, but picking up new information can help people stay motivated. Yoga becomes a way of life for some people. There are even online communities where practitioners can spend time with likeminded individuals.