Author: Yared Torres-Casanas
Healing Addiction with Yoga
My understanding as a mental health professional is the compulsive behavior of an individual to engage in specific actions, despite the negative consequences. These could include such negative consequences or harmful behaviors as the individual’s physical and mental health, relationships issues, legal problems, or in their social life. Researchers have demonstrated that the integration of yoga practice as part of the treatment of an addict have resulted in success at stopping these harmful habits.
The traditional mystical science and yoga states that with the practice of yoga we can reach a mental stability, purification of the mind and body. Also that yoga alleviates man’s suffering and shows a pathway of self realization. When treating addiction, there is one central component. This is breaking the cycle of harmful behaviors by finding healing ways to deal with daily stress. Perhaps, because the mind is cognitively set, the practice of yoga can interrupt the thinking patterns of an addict and translated into healing thoughts. Through the peaceful poses of yoga asanas the body and mind will rest. It is here where our energy can be harnessed toward changing unhealthy habits.
It’s important to mention that not all individuals that engage in ‘using’ behaviors become addict to the drug of choice. The individual that develops an addiction could meet some key criteria; some are biological or genetically predisposed, others lack healthy coping skills to manage difficulties in life, or merely a lost spirit looking for direction in their life. Although this topic continues under discussion and disagreements, it is a fact that addicts find it hard to resist that tempting effects that drugs give to them. Drugs give a fast and quick fix for whatever the individual is dealing with. At first they start doing it for fun, but when someone becomes an addict it is no longer pleasant. Then the addict starts to self-medicate, to be stable, to feel “normal” and to function to meet social demands. Also, addiction can be the symptom of an underlining issue. In this case introspection is needed. Until the individual is willing and open to examine his inner-dialogue, their life will be out of balance.
Using yoga as part of an addict recovery process can have a very positive impact in his sobriety success. Yoga can actually break the addictive cycle and compulsive behavior of using. Yoga teaches slow and controlled movements, instead of automatic behaviors. If this is incorporated into the daily activities of an addict, the individual could learn to cognitively process external stimulus which triggered the ‘using’ behavior in a controlled and slow manner, and eventually breaking the negative thinking patterns. Another positive effect of Yogasanas is that when the body moves slowly into a pose, holds the pose, and moves deliberately out of it, there is a clear and natural tendency to focus on the here and now. This concept helps the addict to focus on one day at a time and also to focus on what is important at the moment, which should be their personal sobriety.
Yoga also makes the practitioner more aware of the body, learning to be deeply gentle in the body without judgment. This way the individual learns to accept and love his body. With this accomplishment symptoms of depression, emptiness or lack of motivation, along with the use of breathing techniques, may revitalize the individual by boosting their state of mind.
Other cases may develop form suppressed emotions, as the person does not know how to express their feelings, using is the easiest way to fix it and cover up these emotions. Yoga helps you to learn to be in-touch with your inner- self and bring balance to your life. On the other hand of we look at yogasanas as an exercise where the individual can practice at a faster speed the brain will release substances similar to the ones we release when the individual ingests the drugs. Therefore, practicing yogasanas at a faster speed will make the addict feel good physically and emotionally.
Most addictions in some ways are substitute for what we really desire. By practicing “mindful yoga” combined with therapy, the addict may learn the appreciation of an authentic self and genuine self-love to redirect his lost spirit. After a person experiences living in a healthy body with a stable mind, unhealthy behaviors of using drugs will lose their flavor.
“The views expressed above are solely those of the author. Yogapoint.com may or may not agree with these statements.”
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