How Yoga Helps the Recovery Process

by Nikki Seay on 19 May 2014 in Health and Wellness, Life in Recovery | updated on 17 February 2015

Even though the practice dates back some 5,000 years, yoga is a fairly new addition to the world of addiction recovery. In fact, yoga has only risen to fame among treatment facilities over the last decade. In that short time, however, yoga has become a staple of today’s addiction recovery process. While there are several different styles of yoga, the forms used in recovery are specifically focused.

Though stress and anxiety are a part of life, many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. As more and more stress piles up, it’s easy to sink deeper into addiction. By uncovering the underlying causes of addiction, you’re able to address the mental, physical, and spiritual issues that affect the way you feel.

Yoga and Recovery: It’s a Brain Thing

Yoga and recovery seem to be a match made in heaven. As you go through the various yoga poses, your brain releases endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals. The release of endorphins also triggers a subsequent release of dopamine, the main chemical of our brain’s reward system.

A controlled endorphin release can feel wonderful during early recovery. These brain chemicals offer:

  • A natural painkiller, easing the aches and pains of withdrawal symptoms
  • Anti-inflammation properties, decreasing uncomfortable swollen muscles
  • A natural anti-depressant, boosting mood and self-esteem
  • A sense of purpose and renewed ability to resist relapse

Unfortunately, addiction alters your brain and its ability to produce natural endorphins. During the recovery process, yoga helps to boost endorphin production and actually strengthens the effects of treatment.

5 Benefits of Yoga During Recovery

Addiction creates a sense of chaos. The determination and willpower that yoga requires can help you regain control – body and mind.

  • Deep Breathing: Yoga teaches deep breathing exercises, increasing oxygen, boosting energy, and reducing mental/physical fatigue.
  • Impulse control: Learning not to act on impulses helps to increase concentration. It also decreases the tendency to let emotion rule action. This cuts down on relapse.
  • Inner peace: Unlike regular exercise, yoga is all about a mind and body experience. For example, the salutation pose can make you feel more mentally and physically connected, allowing you to begin and end each day with a new sense of purpose.
  • Cleansing of the body: Yoga poses can help to detox and cleanse the body of toxins built up after years of drug and alcohol abuse. Several poses stimulate areas of the body that filter and flush toxins. Areas often targeted are the liver, kidneys, and pineal glands.
  • Connection with a higher power: Yoga incorporates meditation, helping to connect with a higher power. This spiritual harmony can make you more eager to care for yourself.

The Yoga Boom and Community Atmosphere

Most addiction recovery programs across the country now incorporate some form of yoga into their treatment process. Why? The answer is simple: it works. That’s why people continue practicing yoga long after leaving rehab. A dedication to yoga provides a serious upgrade from using drugs and alcohol. When practiced regularly, it’s like getting everything you were searching for – a boost in energy, self-esteem, and peace – without the daily hangover. Combined with other trusted therapies, yoga can help you conquer addictions and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, find a holistic treatment center in your area.

Image Credit: pixabay.com