yoga training for addiction recoveryBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

Can Yoga be used as an adjunct therapy for addiction recovery? According to the National Sleep Foundation, roughly 60 million Americans have difficulty with some form of insomnia on a regular basis. Insomnia can take the form of problems falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up too early. Some health conditions can exacerbate ongoing difficulty with insomnia, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Your family doctor or a local sleep clinic can often successfully address these physical health issues.


Staying Asleep

Falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early is often also fueled by anxiety. Health experts estimate that approximately 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety on a consistent basis. In turn, many people struggle with insomnia because of depression. When an individual is depressed, his or her body does not produce enough serotonin, which leads to lower than normal levels of melatonin. When melatonin levels are low, it is difficult, if not impossible at times, for the individual to fall asleep and to stay asleep for a requisite 7-9 hours.


Anxious Energy

If an individual is anxious, the chemistry in the brain is also altered in such a way that GABA levels can fall to such a degree that it becomes almost impossible for the person to relax enough to fall asleep. When an individual finds it continually difficult to fall asleep, or maintain a deep state of restorative sleep regularly, many people tend to reach for a glass of wine or beer to help them unwind and drift off into sleep. Unfortunately, although alcohol does increase GABA levels in the brain initially, the body sugar also converts it in approximately 3 hours.

About Alcohol

When the alcohol is converted into sugar, an individual often awakens from sleeping prematurely. So, although a glass of wine or beer may help with sleep onset, it does not support healthy sleep maintenance. Alcohol actually disturbs the body’s ability to sleep restoratively throughout the night. Additionally, as most of us are aware, daily reliance on imbibing some form of alcohol to sleep can quite quickly lead to physical addiction, which can bring with it a cascade of physical and emotional health problems.


About Sleeping Medication

Another common way of getting to sleep and staying asleep for many people, including Yogis and Yoginis, is the use of prescription sleeping pills. However, there are a number of side effects from many sleeping aids, including drowsiness and difficulty with memory and balance the next day. A daily reliance on sleeping medication can also exacerbate underlying chronic health conditions and can increase symptoms of depression. There are even some current studies being done that are clinically documenting the use of sleeping pills. To summarize , there are negative side effects of long-term reliance on prescription sleeping pills. Additionally, sleeping pills are linked to an increased risk of cancer and a shortened life span of 1-3 years.


About GABA Levels

A very healthy way to support your Yoga students in achieving deep states of restorative sleep every night is by guiding them through a sequence of asanas, calming breathing techniques, and soothing meditation practices during the course of your classes. Clinical studies have recently documented that a balanced Yoga practice increases the body’s natural production of GABA. When GABA levels are in a normal range, a Yogi or Yogini will feel much less anxious and will be more able to drift off to sleep, without the use of alcohol or prescription sleeping pills.

Gentle Yoga Poses

Restorative Yoga postures for addiction recovery and supported inversions are very effective at releasing stress and tension. Additionally, practicing mild inversions increases the body’s own production of GABA. These soothing postures also help to quell an overactive mind soothe anxious feelings and help people with addiction recovery. When restorative Yoga postures are practiced on a regular basis, such as Supported Child’s Pose and Legs Up the Wall Pose, the mind begins to quiet. In that case, the waves of anxiety that so many of us experience from time to time, come to rest in stillness. All things considered, many restorative supine Yoga postures can also be practiced with an aromatherapy. For example, an eye pillow will further support a student with resting in the silence within his or her own being.

About The Author

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Yoga for Addiction Recovery

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Yoga is a practice that has many physical and mental benefits. There are specific poses that can help with addiction recovery. Depending on the practitioner, a sequence frees the mind of negative thoughts. These techniques within a sequence have to do with single-pointed concentration. In this state, the body moves in ways that release tension in the muscles. A helpful practice uses mindful awareness of breath and posture. Yoga eases tension from the body and calms the mind when practiced regularly. Therefore, practice provides assistance for those going through addiction recovery. Gentle forms of Hatha Yoga, which focus on the external form of practice, help to establish mental clarity with poses. The goal of these Yoga poses is to help soothe challenging emotions such as anger, anxiety, and stress.


How Poses Work

Yoga poses help the mind to ease down and relax. In other words, the poses we practice force us to prioritize. As a result, practice time gives us a break from stress and confusion by teaching us to concentrate. Regardless of whether addiction is physical, mental, or emotional, yoga poses are helpful because they provide calmness and rejuvenation. Yoga also enforces postures that encourage breathing, which is healing in general. In short, many Yoga poses use chest opening movements with twists and deep stretches, which are therapeutic in any circumstance.


Food for Thought

Yoga is well-known as a healthy activity and is a useful key for addiction recovery. Hydrate yourself before, during, and after classes. Drinking enough water is specifically important during asana practice. Persons who have any health issues should check with medical providers about whether it is safe for them to practice Yoga.

Yoga Options for Recovery

In summary, Yoga can be a powerful addition to addiction recovery for those with the time and ability to get onto the mat. At the same time, Yoga works on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level by creating endorphins, relaxing tense muscles, and releasing deeply held emotions. With the help of Yoga poses all of the large muscles. Additionally, students learn to open the chest, and increase lung capacity, which helps in overcoming anxiety. On the other hand, practicing Pose of a Child opens the hips and spine while lessening stress on the lower back.

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