People have been practicing yoga for thousands of years. Yoga is defined by Merriam Webster as a Hindu philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that they self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation. Those dealing with addiction may not believe liberation is possible. Yoga is one avenue to support addiction treatment and liberation from the grips of the disease.

As yoga has increased in popularity more and more research is being done to show the benefits of a yoga practice. Some of the proven benefits include:

Stress relief. The practice of yoga can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels (the stress hormones that stimulates our autonomic stress response including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, as well as increased respiration and body temperature). Studies have indicated the hippocampus, the region of the brain that controls stress, can be enlarged with regular yoga practice.

Decreased anxiety. Studies have shown regular yoga practice can increase the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a natural tranquilizer. Increased levels of GABA often result in less stress and anxiety. Common symptoms of drug withdrawal include anxiety, depression, and stress. Yoga can improve these symptoms.

Enhanced brain function. Yoga rewires your brain. It results in increased memory and focus and cognitive functioning.

More energy. Addiction ravages our bodies and we are often left depleted and withdrawn. Yoga energizes the body, mind and spirit.

Better sleep. Certain yoga postures increase circulation to the part of the brain that regulates sleep. As insomnia can be prominent for those in recovery, yoga can be a great remedy. Yoga also teaches us to focus on our breath. Slowing down our breath can slow down our thoughts resulting in more easeful sleep.

One study published by Harvard Health reported impressive results in well being. The group of women identified as emotionally distressed practiced yoga twice a week for 90 minutes. After 3 months, ½ of the women reported less depression, 1/3 reported less anxiety, and 65% reported an increase in their well being.

Addiction is a chronic disease that is potentially fatal. It can cause serious damage to your physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being. The purpose of yoga is to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Whether you watch a Youtube video, take a class, or read a book on yoga, the practice can benefit you in many ways. There are a wide array of yoga classes to choose from. There is hot, cool, gentle, advanced, restorative, and yin. If you are new to yoga, a gentle class is a great way to start. Baby steps. One day at a time.


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