Yoga: A Holistic Healing Practice for Recovery Programs

March 20, 2019 | 3:18 pm | Kaitlin McGlone Vonderschmitt, Leave your thoughts
Yoga: A Holistic Healing Practice for Recovery Programs

Substance abuse is one of the most problematic public health concerns in the United States. In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans were killed due to drug overdoses, reflecting a 13 percent increase over the previous year and a 2-fold increase over the past decade, according to the estimates by Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In spite of numerous pharmacological approaches for dealing with substance abuse problems, relapse rates are still as high as 40 percent in the traditional clinical model. Integrating the Eastern teachings of yoga practice into the recovery process teaches individuals the value of mindfulness, surrender, and getting back into the breath and body. Both clinicians and those in recovery are learning the value of yoga as an addition to traditional 12-step programs.


Yoga is practiced alongside other therapeutic treatments

Yoga first came into existence in India a few thousand years back as a combination of physical and spiritual practices, with the goal to achieve harmony between the heart and soul. Presently, yoga is progressively being utilized in drug abuse treatment programs and all through recovery to help manage withdrawal symptoms, cravings, manage life stresses and prevent relapse. The basic tenets of yoga practice deepen and enrich the traditional model of talk therapy, AA, and the 12-steps.


The science behind Yoga for substance abuse recovery

Yoga is acknowledged as a holistic approach that induces dopamine homeostasis which is helpful in the management of addictive behaviors. This is known as “Reward Deficiency Syndrome.”

It has been widely studied that yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system and increases neurotransmitters levels in the body which are responsible for improved mood and a relaxed mind.

Studies have also produced evidence that yoga increases the blood levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring amino acid. Individuals with substance use disorders generally have lower GABA levels, thus yoga can support the Western psychopharmacological approach to treatment by possibly increasing these levels.


Scientists reveal the effects of yoga on drug dependence

Three studies on different patient populations assessed the effect of different forms of yoga in treating substance abuse. In one study, scientists analyzed the effect of Sudarshan Kriya, one of the breathing techniques and yoga (once a day for six weeks) and compared with a control group. Significant improvements were found in regard to general well-being and anxiety of patients in the yoga group in contrast to the control group.

Another study found that yoga was a practicable adjunct treatment for alcohol depenence. At the six-month follow-up, participants in the yoga group indicated positive changes in alcohol intake that outsized patients in the control group.

A third study found that yoga might be useful as an additional treatment for women going through outpatient detoxification for heroin abuse. In this experiment, women in the yoga treatment group were demonstrated to exhibit measurably noteworthy improvements in quality of life and mood states.

All of the above studies demonstrated that yoga can help alleviate the effects of substance abuse, help prevent relapse and improve the well-being of a person.


Benefits of yoga in substance abuse recovery and mental health

Including even a brief 5- or 10-minute yoga regime to your daily routine can enable you to stay focused and aid to alleviate anxiety. Below given are few points which explain what yoga can do to your health:


  • Yoga reduces cortisol levels, a stress hormone and improves feelings of relaxation, and wellbeing.
  • Yoga assists in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Yoga exercises help in improved muscle development, increased blood flow, and natural endorphin production.
  • Yoga is a mind-body practice that helps improve memory and concentration.
  • Yoga has been proven to be helpful for people suffering from traumatic experiences.
  • Yoga therapy is being used to ease the effects of cancer or to lessen a substance abuse problem.

    • Yoga and Recovery at Akua Mind and body

      Akua Mind and Body is widely renowned substance abuse and mental health treatment center in California. We include yoga therapy in our treatment programs for substance abuse disorders and mental health. Also, our treatment techniques are scientifically-proven to help patients cope with their problems while they are on the road to recovery.

      Since no one size fits all, we at AKUA, provide tailored inpatient alcohol rehab center plans that will oblige to the exclusive needs of our clients and help them overcome substance abuse and dependence. To learn more about our treatment programs, please call our 24/7 Admissions helpline at 833-AKUA-NOW for a confidential assessment.


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