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Addiction Recovery and Yoga: Are These Two Best Friends?

People take drugs for many different personal reasons, but most of them can be boiled down to one or two reasons. The Yoga Journal, in an article about yoga for addiction recovery article, quotes Sat Bir Khalsa, director of the Kundalini Research Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, as saying, “When people take substances, they’re seeking a certain experience, whether it’s escapist or transcendental or just wanting a different psychological state, to get away from whatever is making them unhappy.” The idea of unhappiness as the driving force of addiction is not a new one, but it is as profound as ever.

Addiction Recovery and Yoga

The real question is whether yoga can act as a center to regain happiness and replace that piece of life that is missing, that piece that the addiction was trying to fill but couldn’t. Drugs help a person check out from reality and to escape from the problems they are having in life. Unfortunately, this is a temporary fix to a permanent problem, a fix that ultimately causes more and more problems down the line. Aruni Nan Futuronsky, a Kripalu Yoga teacher and life coach, has said, “Addiction is the ultimate checking out of the moment.

Yoga, on and off the mat, is the checking in to reality,” she says. “Brilliantly, yoga and recovery programs work together to cover all bases.” Her background as a yoga recovery teacher also has led her to cultivate the complementary relationships between yoga and 12-step programs.

Twelve-step programs and yoga make so much sense when put together because they do address the issue in complementary ways. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), “The use of yoga to help break addiction patterns is growing. Body-centered treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, and massage, along with traditional therapy, are on the increase and are being used in many treatment centers.” This increase in yoga usage is happening because it works.

Tommy Rosen, a Hatha- and Kundalini-certified yoga master, said in an interview with the Huffington Post, “My great hope is that yoga and recovery classes will be taught in substance abuse treatment facilities, halfway houses, and sober living environments throughout America. I envision a new format for 12-step meetings, which includes yoga and meditation and stronger community-building in the form of retreats, workshops, and other immersive experiences. When this happens, we’ll be far along the road toward greater success overcoming addiction and preventing it in the first place.”

For a more in depth look at what yoga can do for you to help you confront and conquer your addiction, take a look at Addiction, Recovery and Yoga, a free documentary on how people have used yoga as part of their journey in recovery programs. It features the recovery process from hitting rock bottom and going to your first 12-step meeting to facing the truth yourself and using meditation and yoga as a way to create emotional and physical stability in your life.

Hi! My name is Elise, recovering prescription drug dependent, clean for almost 10 months now, and I’d just like to tell you guys the role of yoga in my recovery. I was in rehab for 60 days, completed a detox program & therapy sessions so I now know how to manage pain & discomfort. It’s liberating to be free from drugs, and to appreciate the many wonderful things I could do even when I still experience cravings, discomfort from multiple surgeries from an accident, regaining my self confidence, etc. I have been doing yoga as recommended by my rehab therapist. It is, by far, the second best experience I get each week, apart from knowing I am drug-free. Not only does yoga gets me relaxed, it physically helps me bear with whatever physical ailments & experiences I am still getting. It also reinforces my inner strength to stay drug – free. I hope my testimonial/comment will be a learning for many other recovering addicts. Thanks and namaste!

Elise