What is Yoga?
To the uninitiated, yoga can seem like an activity that only a certain type of person can enjoy. Many people picture yoga as fit people in tight clothes doing strange body contortions on colorful mats. That image alone may steer people suffering with addiction away from the practice. They may feel they aren’t physically able to participate or that it is just an activity for people who are young, athletic, and exceptionally healthy.
Yoga is so much more than an hour on a cushy mat in a gym. Yoga involves focus on the breath, postures, meditation, and one’s lifestyle to ultimately lead to personal enlightenment. It teaches the fundamental skills necessary for creating a better balance of the relationship between the mind and body. Like a 12-step program, it teaches specific lifestyle changes that can allow people to connect with a higher power and discover a blissful life. However, it is important to note that yoga doesn’t require spirituality; the “God” mentioned in yoga practice does not necessarily need to be thought of in a traditional religious sense.
There are many yoga practices aside from the widely-known Hatha (physical posturing), making it an accessible option to aid in addiction recovery. In fact, four main yoga paths can help a person achieve enlightenment. They include:
- Karma: Karma yoga involves action. It encourages one to make conscious decisions to act kindly and selflessly for the benefit of others. The prayer, worship, and rituals involved in Karma yoga allow oneself to surrender to God’s will and embrace a life of serving others.
- Bhakti: The nine practices of Bhakti Yoga help connect you with God and allow you to see the essence of God in others. Bhakti means “love” or “devotion” and the exercises of this type of yoga help channel unconditional love, gratitude, and devotion to all forms of life.
- Jnana: This is the yoga of knowledge and wisdom. It emphasizes deep contemplation by meditating and studying sacred scriptures. By practicing Jnana techniques, one can dissolve the “veils of ignorance” and form a union with their higher power.
- Raja: This form of yoga involves self-discipline and controlling thoughts and actions. Specific steps outline ways to purify the body and mind to ultimately achieve enlightenment. Raja yoga involves the physical forms and postures that many Westerners associate with yoga.
Yoga practices take on many forms and can appeal to just about any personality. In addiction treatment facilities, yoga therapists learn their students’ specific desires, needs, and personalities to find a individualized, beneficial yoga practice.
How Yoga Therapy Differs from Yoga
One could argue that all yoga is essentially therapy, and this is true to a certain extent. However, yoga therapy, specifically, is an emerging practice that harnesses the healing powers of yoga. It helps people with struggles, such as addiction, develop the self-knowledge that can enable them to change dysfunctional aspects of their lives. Yoga therapists use traditional yoga models to address the underlying root causes of pain and suffering while providing a guide to create lasting change.
Yoga therapists have extensive specialized training. To become a yoga teacher, it usually takes about 200 hours of training. Yoga therapists need at least 1000 hours of specialized training. This gives them the tools and insights they need to apply yoga-based healing for those with physical and mental conditions. Unlike a typical yoga teacher, the knowledge gained from yoga therapy training allows the therapist to create safe adaptations for those with more involved needs.
Yoga therapists assess their clients and get a full picture of their medical history as well as their physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual needs. From there, they find the most appropriate yoga methods to bring lasting change. They often give homework, encouraging individuals to develop a routine and begin their journey of self-exploration.
The individualized approach makes yoga therapy more personal and engaging. In addition, yoga therapists ensure their students are safe and less prone to injury by using appropriate adaptations based on their student's health conditions and emotional issues.
Yoga has emerged as one of the leading complementary therapies for those struggling with addiction. Trained yoga therapy practitioners know the specific needs and challenges involved with addiction, and they can help make yoga even more beneficial for you or your loved one during recovery.
Anyone suffering from addiction can find the help that they need to change. Alternative therapies, such as yoga, are an excellent complement to traditional therapy, support groups, and other addiction rehabilitation programs. A qualified yoga therapist will work with an individual to find engaging, beneficial practices that are specifically catered to the individual’s unique strengths and needs. In time, the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga can provide the necessary tools for a successful recovery and blissful life.
How Yoga Therapy Can be Used to Treat Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Many people who are struggling with addiction seek ways to escape their everyday existence because their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are too difficult to handle. Instead of dealing with life’s challenges, they use substances as a way to escape. They bypass their inner knowledge and wisdom for a “quick fix” to ease their suffering. Unfortunately, the temporary relief they get from using drugs or alcohol doesn’t address the deeper root issues.
Yoga challenges people who are struggling with addiction to face their problems, create necessary change, and accept some situations for what they are. Yoga is based on discipline, something those struggling with addiction might sometimes lack. The self-discipline gained through postures, breathing, and meditation can transfer to other aspects of life as well.
Like mindfulness meditation, yoga teaches how to live in the present moment. Instead of being depressed about the past or anxious about the future, yoga practices encourage an acceptance of the present moment. When one appreciates life moment by moment, they take control of their life and disengage from unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and sensations caused by an unfocused mind. This can be especially helpful for those struggling with drug or alcohol cravings early in their recovery.
Yoga also encourages a positive leisure lifestyle. When someone is stressed or dealing with difficult emotions, they learn to choose a healthier alternative instead of reaching for a drug or substance. By repeatedly turning to yoga practices when faced with challenges, they create a positive habit to replace their previous reliance on drugs or alcohol. Ultimately, you can feel better after choosing a more constructive way to cope than escaping with a “quick fix.”
The social aspect of yoga can also help people struggling with addiction. Like support groups and 12-step programs, someone joining a group yoga class can find like-minded people looking to improve the quality of their lives. Those in the group often encourage each other and form special bonds. For someone struggling with addiction, a strong social support network is essential for a successful recovery.
Holistic Benefits of Yoga Therapy
Substance abuse and addiction are often a means to escape unpleasant thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Mindless living and escapist attitudes are the breeding ground for addictive behaviors. Mindless living involves reactivity, isolation, scattered attention, habitual behaviors, harsh judgements, and criticism. These behaviors create a vicious cycle where the loss and emptiness created by substance use need to be filled with the same substances that are causing the issues. People who are gripped by addiction often disregard their mind and body for the temporary boost of pleasure they get from drugs or alcohol
No matter where someone is in the cycle of addiction, yoga can help reconnect the mind, body, and spirit. By practicing the traditional elements of yoga, including postures, meditation, and breath control, one can strengthen their concentration and attention, regulate emotions, and begin the quest of personal and spiritual growth through self-observation. Instead of escaping unpleasant thoughts, emotions, and sensations, one becomes more aware and accepting of their situations. This steady and deliberate attention and introspection begins the holistic transformation.
The self-acceptance and honesty one adopts by practicing meditation helps to reconnect the mind and body, allowing for the discovery of a deeper meaning of life. This realization could include embracing yoga or other holistic therapies for enlightenment and greater happiness.
Neurological Benefits of Yoga
The various benefits of yoga continue to be researched and documented. On the surface, yoga helps increase physical health. Strength, flexibility, and lower blood pressure, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, and stress are widely associated with routine yoga participation. Researchers and practitioners are discovering that yoga provides more than just physical benefits. It also creates positive changes in the brain and brings balance to the body and mind, leading to self-discovery and an optimal state of well-being that is necessary for a successful recovery.
By routinely incorporating yoga practices into daily life, positive changes can develop in the brain. A meta-analysis of 15 studies looked at different aspects of brain functioning following yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation-based yoga. During these studies, brain imaging techniques including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and positron emission tomography (PET scans) were used to measure brain functions and changes. Below are some of the results.
Yoga Positively Affects Brain Waves
Different yoga practices were found to affect brain wave activity. Brain waves are synchronized electrical pulses created by masses of neurons communicating together. The changes in brain wave activity during and after yoga sessions were linked to more positive brain states. The study found many benefits which are outlined below.
Changes in the alpha brain waves, which are signals when the brain is resting but still alert, were found after yoga practices. This is linked to decreased sensations of pain and an increased sense of calm.
Certain yoga practices produced an increase in beta waves. These waves are associated with heightened awareness and active concentration. Yoga could also lead to a decrease in physical and emotional fatigue, as well as less overall anxiety.
Posture and breathing yoga exercises also activated the brain’s theta waves. Increased theta waves can help decrease anxiety and allow better focus.
Yoga Influences Brain Functioning
In addition to affecting brain waves, yoga creates structural brain changes. In recent years, scientists have embraced the concept that repeated thoughts and behaviors can create physical changes in the brain.
Regular yoga practice has a positive impact on the amygdala and its functioning. The amygdala is a small structure near the hippocampus. One study reported decreased blood flow to the amygdala after twelve weeks of yoga training. Functions including mood, memory, and emotional regulation were improved, and perceptions of pain were decreased.
The brain’s frontal lobes were also affected by routine yoga. Increased blood flow to the frontal lobes was reported, leading to increased attention and focus. In addition, increased brain volume occurred in the frontal lobes and hippocampus, helping with long- and short-term memory as well as spatial navigation.
Substance abuse alters the way the brain works which can eventually lead to addiction. The positive changes created in the brain through habitual yoga can help rewire the damage caused by substance use and addiction. Better moods, increased concentration, and the ability to regulate emotions can provide a better mindset for recovery.
Yoga Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Scottsdale, Arizona
If you are ready to make the ultimate positive choice to change your life for the better and break free from the cycle of drug or alcohol abuse, consider a program that includes yoga therapy. If you are already located nearby or feel that leaving your current surroundings would help your recovery, Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Arizona is waiting to welcome you or your loved one to our luxury treatment center.
Our staff fully understands and believes in the benefits that yoga therapy and other holistic programs can offer each of our clients. We offer this therapy in addition to numerous other types, including:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Holistic Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Equine Therapy
- Tai Chi
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Dual-Diagnosis Therapy
We are proud to offer evidence-based treatment that has been nationally recognized as an effective way of overcoming chemical dependency. Our luxury facility is exceptionally comfortable and provides our clients a safe, supportive environment for recovery from substance use and for working toward lasting change.
Contact Pinnacle Peak Recovery Today
If you think that you or a loved one is ready to make the change for a positive future and end substance use for good, give us a call today. Our trained staff is waiting to help you through the next steps.
When you call the 24/7 hotline at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, you will be connected with an intake counselor who will ask you a little bit about yourself and answer any questions you may have about our programs. We will then begin building a custom treatment plan for you based on your specific needs and your unique situation. While you are here, you will find many of your peers share some of the same struggles that you have encountered. However, no two stories are exactly alike, and the treatments should not be either. That's why we customize our programs to fit each client’s individual needs, ensuring a better chance at success.
Call our hotline now at 866-377-4761 to get started on your path to a healthier, happier future in sobriety. We can even verify your insurance information over the phone. Don't wait another minute. Call today!