Sometimes, external pressures and major life events can drive a person to seek destructive coping mechanisms, which could increase the risk of developing a mental illness. Both substance abuse and anxiety can have serious consequences for the body, but you might be surprised to know that yoga can be an effective tool in recovery.
Substance abuse attacks neurotransmitters in the brain. While a drug habit may start out as a race for dopamine, continued use through injection, inhalation or ingestion can cause dependence and even cycles of depression. Nervousness and tension from an encounter with addictive substances can have detrimental effects on the neck, shoulders and other muscles, as well as increase your risk of insomnia and other illnesses. The consequences can still affect the body even if a person achieves sobriety. Addiction recovery is a complicated journey but practicing yoga can assist with the process.
Along with a series of health benefits, yoga has been found to ease anxiety by decreasing cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone. By listening to the body through calculated stretching, you can also achieve higher impulse control. Yoga’s success relies on developing an elevated sense of mindfulness. Focusing on breathing helps identify the areas that hold the most tension. The philosophy of yoga revolves around calming the mind and balancing the nervous system, which can serve as a catalyst for mental and physical healing.
By using yoga as a supplemental therapy to traditional treatments, physical sensations are reintroduced to the body and natural stress responses are rewired. Practicing yoga can emphasize healthy coping skills and tolerance for discomfort, replacing self-medication through drugs and alcohol.
Learn more about the benefits of yoga for addiction recovery with the accompanying infographic yoga-addiction-recovery.pdf.
Chris Hassan is President and CEO of Symetria Health® — the country’s first comprehensive evidence-based opioid addiction treatment program, designed to deliver data-validated outcomes that outperform other treatments currently available. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment, is active on several national panels and corporate boards, while also serving as a Huffington Post contributor.
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