One of the more prominent holistic treatments for addiction and related mental health issues that has gained popularity in recent years is the art of yoga. Based on spiritual principles and an associated physical practice developed by ancient Buddhist monks as an adjunct to their meditation practices, the wisdom of yoga may date all the way back to the fifth century BCE.
But modern practitioners can benefit just as much from the experience of yoga as did these noble forefathers. Because of this, Reco Intensive, a Delray Beach rehabilitation center widely respected for its holistic approach to addiction treatment, has incorporated it into their comprehensive treatment program, with practice at least once a week recommended for all patients.
And as for the reasons why this is such a good move? To start with, practically all forms of physical activity are thought to be associated with mental health benefits, since they promote the release of feel good neurotransmitters like endorphins that can improve mood and can provide patients with a sense of mastery and accomplishment that can increase their self-esteem.
But yoga also comes with unique benefits beyond those offered by exercise alone because of its focus on connecting the mind and the body as opposed to only on the body’s movements. This means that it can be considered a form of meditation and of mindfulness training as well as a challenging workout, and that it can calm the mind and body alike.
This is of particular importance to patients who are struggling with substance abuse because being more attuned to and aware of their bodies can help them to better recognize substance cravings, and to learn how to calm themselves down physically while in the heat of them with yogic techniques as opposed to returning to old unhealthy habits. Maintaining better body awareness can also help such patients to maintain better overall health habits, such as better sleeping and eating habits, which can in turn help them to develop a sense of physical equilibrium that can itself combat cravings and lead to improved overall mental health.
Studies have also shown that yoga can help patients to decrease their levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, as attested to by the fact that it can physically reduce the levels of stress hormone in their body. Perhaps because of these effects, studies have also suggested that yoga can help patients to cope with the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, a condition that commonly occurs comorbidly with addiction and involves a state of chronic physical hyperarousal that develops in response to a traumatic experience.
Other research has shown that yoga can provide a variety of physical health benefits as well as these mental ones. For instance, yoga can reduce inflammation, a bodily process that increases the risk of many serious illnesses. It can also improve pain symptoms, improve heart and lung health, and improve physical abilities like strength, flexibility, and balance, all of which can become increasingly important to maintaining a healthy body as we age.
Of course, as with other forms of exercise, yoga is not without its risks, and there have been rare cases of serious injuries resulting from people without adequate training attempting advanced yoga moves. However, an experienced yoga instructor is aware of these pitfalls as well as of the individual physical limitations that may impede conventional yoga practice, and is able to offer individualized modifications on traditional poses accordingly.
Many substance abuse patients also find that the spiritual elements of their yoga practice enhance their feelings of purpose and of connectedness, imparting an attitude of acceptance and resilience that can have profound reverberations throughout the rest of their lives. With so much to gain and so little to lose, it’s not hard to understand why Reco Intensive has made yoga practice a priority for its patients. To learn more about their program and what other exciting holistic options work to enhance their therapeutic offerings, feel free to check out their website!