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How Yoga Therapy Helps Addiction Recovery

Among the many mental health and addiction treatment modalities out there, one of the most profound approaches is yoga therapy.

Yoga, which translates to ‘union’, aligns the body and breath for greater overall balance and peace of mind.

In addiction recovery programs, clients first undergo a medically supervised detoxification program, then enter either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. During treatment, various psychotherapies and experiential therapies help clients address their mental and behavioral health.

Psychotherapy supports clients in identifying and addressing their deeply held beliefs and worldview, which helps them uncover the roots of their addiction so that healing can begin. Experiential therapies typically occur outside of a traditional therapy office setting and do not require the client to narrate their thoughts and life stories. Instead, it encourages the client to focus on their breathing, body, and the present moment.

Humans have been practicing yoga for as long as history has been recorded. When we think of yoga, several images come to mind.

You might picture a life-long practitioner: shockingly peaceful as they fold into extreme contortion -

maybe even on a mountaintop. Put that image away and just take a deep breath. You do not need a particular level of fitness or flexibility to start, and there is no requirement to hold any religious or spiritual ideology. Yoga is for everyone.

There are many different types of yoga. You can find classes and practitioners in more and more cities and towns across the country, and all come with varying preferences for practice. Some classes take place in hot rooms while others take place outside. Some are gentle and slow, while others are more physically demanding.

Despite the different types, some aspects of yoga remain the same. Yoga helps to develop better balance, improved posture, and a greater breathing capacity. This union of body and mind is where the real healing takes place.

You are encouraged to take slow, easy breaths as you move through each pose while also focusing on your posture. The idea is to maintain that mindfulness and bring your awareness to the body.

As we practice yoga and increase our awareness, it becomes easier to observe how thoughts or projections of the mind can throw the body off-balance and how an unbalanced body can project thoughts and images onto the mind.

Drugs and the Brain

Drugs and the Brain

If you have been misusing drugs or alcohol regularly, some of the neural pathways in your brain may have changed.

Drug and alcohol misuse creates structural changes in the brain that influence our behavior. They take over pathways related to feelings of:

  • Pleasure
  • Reward
  • Emotional regulation
  • Decision making
  • Impulsive behavior

When we try to stop using drugs or alcohol, the body begins to detoxify. Given the structural brain changes and the physical dependence due to regular drug use, the detoxification process can be deeply uncomfortable. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Tension

Though your initial reasons for substance misuse may be rooted in another mental health condition or underlying trauma, once you have misused a drug for a prolonged period, it is these structural changes in the brain that drive further drug-seeking behavior. Habitual misuse also leads to physical dependence, and the body feels unable to function normally without the presence of the drug in its system.

Yoga and the Brain

Yoga and the Brain

According to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, yoga can increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain.

GABA is a naturally occurring brain chemical that acts as a tranquilizer. It helps calm feelings of anxiety and stress, which are common feelings a client might experience during withdrawal and early recovery.

At Cirque Lodge, we encourage all of our clients to engage in yoga therapy. By promoting mental and physical well-being,  yoga can support clients’ recovery as they move towards their goal of living a happy, healthy life.

Yoga for Stress Relief

Yoga for Stress Relief

Stress and anxiety can lead to an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, excessive sweating, and an increased body temperature.

Scientific evidence published in Harvard Health has shown that practicing yoga leads to a significant reduction in stress levels and reduced anxiety and depression. Yoga is a powerful stress reliever, and through regular practice, we achieve a calm, peaceful state of mind.

On a neuroscientific level, yoga can reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline in the brain, as reported by Scientific American. Yoga increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) – the branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) responsible for rest and digestion, and helps calm the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – which activates in response to stress. Over time, this combined action leads to lower stress levels and improved overall health and well-being.

Yoga Therapy in Addiction Recovery at Cirque Lodge

Yoga Therapy in Addiction Recovery at Cirque Lodge

Yoga is one of a range of experiential therapies we use here at Cirque Lodge to help you overcome your addiction.

Whether you have practiced yoga before or you are new to it, you will reap many benefits.

By focusing on the mind-body connection, our efforts lead to a healthier, more balanced outlook. From this place of balance, it becomes easier to manage our emotions and summon our innate strength and resilience in the face of any challenges to our successful, long-term recovery.

How Yoga Therapy Helps cta

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Cirque Lodge is a recovery retreat providing cognitive and experiential therapies, in the pristine natural beauty of Utah’s Rocky Mountains.

Cirque Lodge is considered among our colleagues, as one of, if not the premium drug and alcohol rehab facility in the country.
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