From Hindu spiritual practice to health trends to treatment for addiction, yoga's path may seem unconventional, but it is quickly becoming a conventional treatment for addiction. Is it too good to be true?
Can yoga help me heal from addiction?
How Yoga Has Evolved in Popularity
While it may be difficult to believe that today's trend is so ancient, the origins of yoga have been traced back to ancient India, over 5,000 years ago. Yoga began as a spiritual practice and a part of the Hindu religion, while Buddhism and Jainism also embraced forms of yoga. This ancient practice continued throughout the ages and is still practiced today as a part of the Hindu religion.
Around the 1960s, yoga began to become a popular form of exercise and has since developed into the modern exercise trend that we know today. As people discovered that it was more than just exercise and offered mental and spiritual benefits, yoga has become popular as a form of healing. Currently, it is one of the most popular forms of whole-person complementary therapies in the addiction recovery industry. (Whole person refers to the mind, body, and spirit, and complementary therapies are those that support other, often more evidence-based practices.)
What Are the Physical Benefits of Yoga?
Science and medicine seem to be playing catch up regarding the appreciation of the ancient physical benefits of yoga. More than a form of exercise that addresses only one area of fitness, yoga offers a complete physical workout with less chance of injury than many other forms of exercise. Some of the physical benefits that are finally being recognized by Western medicine include:
- No-impact exercise
- Increases muscle tone and strength
- Increases flexibility
- Improves respiration and circulation
- Helps to maintain balance in metabolism
- Improves athletic performance
- Protects from injury
- Offers weight-reducing properties
- Improves levels of energy
Are There Mental Benefits of Yoga?
There are also specific mental benefits to yoga that increase mental acuity, function, and wellness. Yoga is recommended by doctors, therapists, healers, and more for the mental benefits alone. These include:
- Calms and relaxes the mind
- Increases focus and attention
- Creates mental clarity
- Increases mind-body awareness
- Improves concentration
- Reduces stress
- Improves sleep
- Eases anxiety
- Offers some relief from depression
If I Am Not Religious, Can I Get Spiritual Benefits From Yoga?
The word spiritual does not always pertain to religion. Religion is a specific system of faith and worship, typically involving a belief in a god or gods. On the other hand, the word spiritual simply denotes something that affects the human spirit. Despite its origins in religion, yoga is a practice that can also simply offer peace and healing to your soul.
Spiritual benefits of yoga that are not based on any religion or specific set of beliefs include:
- Improved emotional strength and flexibility
- Increased spiritual health and awareness
- Improved peace and happiness from within
- A more positive outlook on life
- Lowered anxieties surrounding existential thoughts and questions
The Whole Person Healing
Because yoga offers benefits to the mind, body, and spirit, it is ideal for whole-person healing. That integration of physical, mental, and spiritual healing provides more complete healing than a form that only addresses one or two characteristics of the human condition.
Whole person healing addresses the mending of the complete person rather than just a single aspect. While some practices address just two out of the three critical recovery aspects (mental, physical, spiritual), yoga simultaneously addresses all three. It creates a synergy that heals more quickly and completely than other forms of exercise or mental or spiritual therapies.
How Can Yoga Help Heal From Addiction?
Yoga offers many benefits that are particularly healing to those with substance abuse. The complete integration of mind, body, and spirit is essential because of the separation during active addiction that decreases the synergistic awareness. The enhanced abilities to be calm and increase focus are also very important because those abilities are often lost during active addiction.
The physical body is often damaged during extended addiction, so the ability to have a no-impact form of exercise that explicitly targets so many of the areas of your body that are harmed is ideal. Yoga can also address co-occurring anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This form of complete healing also helps with relapse prevention, as doing yoga is like an exercise for the brain. Yoga has been helping people for 5,000 years and doesn't look to be going anywhere anytime soon—thankfully.
How can yoga help you heal from addiction? Having evolved from an ancient religious practice, yoga is now widely accepted to be one of the most effective whole person therapies in the healing of addiction. The benefits of nourishing the mind, body, and spirit help you to achieve a wholesome healing experience. At The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women, we use yoga as a complementary therapy to our many evidence-based therapeutic modalities. At our beautiful, peaceful Costa Mesa, California, location, we know that yoga is an excellent exercise for the body, mind, and spirit. Our goal for you is to heal the whole person, so we add complementary therapies to the science-driven modalities to offer you the most beneficial choices in your individualized residential treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. The Ho Tai Way is a safe place to find your way again. Contact us today at (714) 581-3974 to begin your healing journey.