Yoga practice for addiction treatment
The practice of yoga helps to restore the physical and psychological health of people suffering from various kinds of addiction, including psychoactive substances.
In order to understand how yoga can help with this, it is worth noting three main components of yoga practice:
- pranayama – breathing practices;
- a complex of asanas – a specific order of exercises aimed at restoring mind and body recovery;
Together, these tools make it possible to change the state of an addicted person to a more positive one and, within the framework of the rehabilitation process, are psychologically beneficial to patients. This happens due to the involvement of three levels – physiological, energetic and mental (aspect of the mind).
To a large extent, our emotional state and behavior patterns are very much related to the balance of the hormonal system. It is a pity that it is quite simple to disturb it. This imbalance can be caused by intoxication of the body with alcohol and psychoactive substances, as well as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress and other negative factors. Long-term use leads to a partial restructuring in the work of the system of satisfaction (reward), and it is this factor that more than others complicates the recovery from addiction.
With the help of yoga, dopamine metabolism that helps you feel calm pleasure, of which substance-free addicts are usually deprived, can be restored. The thing that helps is the ability to be aware of, feel, listen and understand your body through the performance of certain asanas, meditation and breathing techniques.
What else is useful at the physiological level during practice?
Yoga in the Treatment of Alcoholism
The sense of the connection between mind and body contributes to the development of mindfulness, the lack of which is a common problem for chemically-addicted people.
Making efforts in asanas, experiencing static stress, the addict forms the skill of overcoming difficulties – without this it is impossible to recover. At the same time, the level of self-esteem increases, and positive experiences during and after classes contribute to obtaining satisfaction without the use of chemicals. The fact is that while doing yoga, you need to try to be as concentrated as possible on your own body, otherwise nothing will work. It will not be possible to take the correct position of your body, as well as to relax in it, therefore yoga practitioners are forced to return all their attention to the body and sensations in it during the whole class. Only then yoga begins to work out, and the effect will not be long in coming. In the long term, the addict can regain a lost ability to understand the needs and demands of his body, distinguish between useful and destructive, and respond to them correctly.
If a person begins to practice yoga regularly, he/she increases his/her self-discipline, self-control, and as a result, the skill to cope with his/her addictions through self-restraint, which is exactly what addicts lack. Along with this, willpower is trained. After all, there is always a choice – to stay in the asana, withstanding certain muscle and emotional discomfort, as a trainer recommends, or to give up and get out of the position ahead of time. At this stage, the development of spiritual and mental stability, and willpower take place.
In addition to static asanas, yoga includes stretching, extension of the spine and all muscles of the body, the useful function of which is to remove psychological blocks and clamps at the bodily level.
The influence of yoga on the thinking of an addict
It is common for addicts to use substances as a way to escape from reality. In yoga you have to focus on yourself from the inside, which means to be in the moment ‘here and now’, to face directly and to admit your sometimes unpleasant thoughts, emotions, anxieties, fears, whether it’s an experience of the past or anxiety about the future. And this is an excellent additional tool in the psychological rehabilitation process. Hence, a new, productive, healthy focus of attention appears, which supplants drug obsession and forms new patterns of behavior.
Breathing techniques (pranayama – ‘expansion of vitality’) have a very beneficial effect on the body, restoring lost energy, reducing the effects of stress, which means they improve physical and mental health, strengthen immunity, and also improve the quality of sleep. This happens due to the oxygenation of the lungs and brain.
And finally, meditation, which can influence a restless, rushing, chaotic state of mind, and turn it into the opposite, freeing it from unnecessary thoughts, and relax the body.
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