Yoga Therapy


We are willing to grow along spiritual lines.” – Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book

At Cirque Lodge, the 12-Step program of recovery is at the heart of our treatment offerings, and the core of any 12-Step program is spiritual growth. This does not mean religion per se, but a spiritual component that gives you a greater perspective and understanding of your life.

“Cirque Lodge gave me the opportunity to dig down deep and figure out what was going on inside of me and why I was doing the things I was doing.” ~ Anon.

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on poses, breathing techniques, and meditation to promote physical and mental well-being. When clients establish a yoga practice during the first few weeks of treatment, it has a lasting impact on their recovery. That’s why we offer Yoga Therapy at Cirque Lodge.

The Benefits of Yoga

Our clients often come to Cirque Lodge disconnected from their bodies. Yoga therapy sessions are a brilliant way to slowly introduce someone to physical sensations and listen to what their body is telling them.

Yoga has numerous physical and mental benefits, all of which support our clients' journey to wellness, including:

  • Building strength
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Encouraging better breathwork
  • Supporting heart health
  • Reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain
  • Improving sleep

It’s also a relaxing, grounding activity that helps navigate stresses and anxieties which may arise during detox.

Ways to Practice

There are many styles and ways of practicing yoga, ranging from relaxing to meditative to aerobic. They include:

  • Vinyasa yoga – commonly referred to as “flow” yoga, is characterized by stringing poses together so that you move from one to another seamlessly, using breath.
  • Hatha yoga – is the most commonly taught style of yoga and incorporates physicality, strength work, and breathwork.
  • Iyengar yoga – this type focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the practice of asanas.
  • Kundalini yoga – kundalini involves chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses.
  • Ashtanga yoga – this style is energetic, synchronizing breath with movement.
  • Bikram yoga – is practiced in a hot room.
  • Yin yoga – is slow and meditative, targeting your deep connective tissues, like your fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones.
  • Restorative yoga – focuses on slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching.

We take an individualized approach to yoga therapy, taking into account experience levels, abilities, confidence, and comfort. The goal is for the activity to be relaxing and pleasurable rather than hard work.

Yoga Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Cultivating Mindfulness
Connection With Self
Dedication to Practice and Ritual
Yoga and Brain Chemistry
Yoga Therapy For Addiction Recovery At Cirque Lodge

Yoga Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Substance misuse often arises from an inability to cope with challenging situations and painful emotions.

Drugs and alcohol can provide relief and escape from difficult mental states; however, this can lead to numbness in the body and mind over time. During rehabilitation, a person will become more alert and in tune with themselves and may struggle with new sensations and emotions.

The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are associated with PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. Yoga is highly effective at regulating these stress hormones and creating a sense of equilibrium and calm.

Yoga is also a valuable tool for people in recovery to fill their time positively – it can be a new hobby that also improves physical, cognitive, and social abilities. Yoga therapy is one of our clients’ favorite activities, especially with the glorious backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, and clients often continue to practice outside of their therapy sessions in solitude or with friends.

How Yoga Therapy Differs from Yoga

Unlike traditional Western yoga classes, which primarily focus on physical fitness, flexibility, and mental relaxation, Yoga Therapy is tailored to address specific physical, mental, and emotional needs. It involves a personalized regimen, designed by certified therapists, to cater to individual health conditions and recovery goals.

Key Differences:

Personalization: Yoga Therapy is customized to the individual's needs, considering their health history and specific challenges in addiction recovery.

Therapeutic Intent: The primary goal is healing and rehabilitation, rather than just fitness or relaxation.

Integrated Approach: It often includes elements of counseling and mindfulness, making it a holistic part of a broader treatment plan.

Why Practice Yoga in Addiction Recovery?

Yoga has been shown to offer numerous benefits for those in recovery. These benefits extend beyond the physical realm, supporting mental and emotional healing.

Stress Reduction: Yoga helps in managing stress, a key trigger in addiction cycles.

Improved Physical Health: Regular practice enhances strength, flexibility, and overall body health, which can contribute to lasting recovery.

Emotional Balance: Yoga aids in emotional regulation, helping individuals process feelings in a healthier way, and allowing them to develop coping skills other than substance use.

Mindfulness and Self-awareness: Practicing yoga fosters a deeper sense of self-awareness and mindfulness, which is crucial in achieving long-term recovery.

Cultivating Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about living in the present moment with full awareness.

Yoga cultivates mindfulness as it requires you to be in the moment as you move through the various yoga poses. It is a gentle aid for practicing mindfulness without the need for great effort or concentration.

Meditation is beneficial in cultivating mindfulness; however, it can be challenging for those with mental health conditions. Meditation also requires you to sit still for extended periods, which can be painful or challenging for those in rehabilitation. Yoga combines breathwork and movement with meditation allowing for simplicity and a sense of calm to arise.

Connection With Self

Substance users often feel like there is a disconnect between their mind and body. 

Yogic tools allow you to get in touch with all aspects of yourself; spiritually, physically, and mentally. As the practice centers around cultivating a peaceful connection with oneself, it allows for deep integration, restoring a sense of calm and inner peace.

Withdrawal symptoms can be especially difficult for clients in rehabilitation; however, yoga encourages acceptance of physical sensations, emotions, and feelings.  Yoga therapy offers relief from withdrawal symptoms, especially if the practice is started early on in the treatment program.

Dedication to Practice and Ritual

Substance users often report an element of enjoyment to the ritualization of taking drugs or consuming alcohol.

That the purchase, unwrapping, and preparing of it gives a sense of calm and pleasure.

Yoga is an ancient, holistic ritual that can replace old destructive habits with healthy new ones. Yoga therapy also requires consistency and dedication, which are helpful elements to master throughout the recovery journey.

Additionally, the spiritual aspect of the yoga ritual can encourage people to discover their sense of purpose and focus on how they wish their new lives to be.

Yoga and Brain Chemistry

One of the benefits of yoga is changes to your brain chemistry.

When you perform yoga, chemicals such as GABA, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are released, lowering stress levels and creating calm.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that suppresses neural activity such as stress, anxiety, nervousness and even fear. During yoga, GABA can increase by as much as 27%.

The other chemicals that are released are known as the “happiness hormones.” These chemicals alleviate stress and create a sense of pleasure, happiness and connectivity.

Yoga therapy is an essential part of all of our treatment programs as it is key for our clients to feel as relaxed, calm and stress-free as possible while cultivating a healthy mind and body.

Community and Group Yoga Sessions

Practicing yoga solo can offer many benefits, but group yoga sessions tend to enhance those benefits, particularly in the context of addiction recovery. Engaging in yoga with others who are on similar paths can create a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding. Practicing in a group can increase motivation and foster a sense of accountability. Importantly, the community can provide a support network, crucial in times of challenge.

Integration of Yoga Therapy with Other Therapies for Addiction Recovery

Yoga is a powerful complement to various therapeutic interventions in addiction recovery. Yoga teaches mindfulness, a skill that is fundamental to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a common therapeutic modality in treatment. By being more aware of their thoughts and bodily sensations, individuals in recovery can better recognize and challenge negative thought patterns. Yoga's focus on breathing and relaxation techniques can help lower stress levels, making it easier for individuals to engage in CBT without being overwhelmed by anxiety or stress.

Additionally, yoga can alleviate some of the physical discomfort associated with withdrawal and medication side effects, such as gastrointestinal issues and muscle aches. It can be a natural way to regulate mood and emotions, potentially reducing the need for certain medications used to treat anxiety and depression.

Finally, yoga can help in healing unprocessed trauma. Trauma can lead to a disconnection from the body. Yoga, in tandem with trauma work,  helps in re-establishing this connection in a safe and controlled way, which is crucial for trauma recovery.

Yoga Therapy For Addiction Recovery At Cirque Lodge

Yoga therapy is just one of the therapies offered at Cirque Lodge.

We offer a combination of holistic, evidence-based, and cutting-edge treatments in a program tailored specifically to your needs.

You will find our treatment centers in Sundance, Utah. We deliver the privacy and space you need to begin your recovery journey and the ongoing support to continue. We provide continuing support in our Alumni program and include the entire family in the healing process.

Yoga Therapy cta

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About Cirque Lodge
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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