I have been asked many times why yoga and healing go hand in hand. In all the work I do, I see time and again the value of incorporating yoga practice into a recovery lifestyle is great. So, again to the question “why yoga and recovery?” for all of you out there who have wondered. Here are a few of the answers for all these queries, questions, curiosities and interest in the relationship between yoga and recovery, specifically from addictive patterns.
In active addiction, we become disconnected from the energies within us. Life becomes small and dark, confusing and scary. It is when someone comes to a place of being ready to try something different, to ask for help and receive it, that a few truths become clear; the truths that recovery is possible and healing happens becomes a belief, a life line, a doorway into new healthy and whole living. In treatment from addiction, accessing the mind is only one part of the healing process. Through body-mind awareness and the practice yoga, healing happens in a multitude of ways; not only mentally, but also emotionally, physically, physiologically and spiritually. The parts of self that have been fragmented through the addiction process begin to integrate, coming together in new and meaningful ways, as treatment is sought and utilized.
Recovery is all about uncovering patterns of behavior and truth-telling, finding a new way to be with the whole self and developing a path of behaviors that support the life you want to live. Just as addiction shows up in unique ways, so does recovery. What helps one person might be less helpful to another. Finding the ways you feel supported and more connected to your self is part of the recovery process; accessing multiple paths toward healing holds the benefit of accruing more resources for the recovery toolbox. Yoga and mindfulness are one of the many paths toward healing available in a recovery lifestyle. Through the integration of yoga into a treatment plan, addiction is addressed and patterns of recovery are learned. Recovery happens as we get to know ourselves; being with the physical body is an important part of the process. When we become aligned with ourselves, we also become aligned with life in new ways. Through showing up to the present moment and learning how to practice mindfulness in practical ways, healing becomes possible that was not available before. Being in the moment is practicing acceptance, a spiritual and fundamental principle of recovery. Acceptance paves the way for healing. Learning to be with the body and mind through a yoga practice leads to decreased anxiety, physical discomfort, illness, depression. Thousands of studies prove that the benefits of mindfulness are many, particularly in recovery from addiction, anxiety and other co-occurring disorders. Yoga is one way to practice mindfulness.
It is common that active addiction leads to dissociation, a disconnection from the body. One of the challenges and opportunities inherent in early and ongoing sobriety is to be with the body as it is. Alcohol, drugs and other harmful behavior once helped to cope with the feelings that are difficult to be with; now the practice of mindfulness can be used to deal with life on life’s terms in healthy and nourishing ways.
Yoga and Meditation can help to overcome the challenges that rise during early sobriety. Recovery calls us to cultivate, honesty, willingness and trust. Breath work, yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices [found within Dialectic Behavior Therapy and many spiritual/religious traditions], when combined with other forms of treatment, greatly increase the success of ongoing sobriety, recovery, health, wholeness and meaningful living.
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas