By Sangeetha Saran
What are Yoga techniques for substance abuse? Although scientific research has been limited, there is strong anecdotal evidence to support the practice of Yoga in the treatment and management of addictions. However, there is also a growing body of research. According to APA PsycArticles, one study in 2019 concluded that Yoga had moderate success in treating chronic pain, because it gives people an alternative coping method. Therefore, Yoga could prevent potential reliance on strong pain killers, which can lead to addiction.
Although more evidence is needed for substance abuse, there is comprehensive data to support its effects on stress-related illnesses. The link between stress and addictions is well known, and scientists have documented the effects of Yoga on good mental health. Others have observed similarities between Yogic philosophy and 12-step programs, and there is little doubt that Yoga complements traditional treatments for many conditions.
Potential Benefits of Yogic Methods for Treatment of Substance Abuse
• Reduces stress
• Increases self-esteem
• Improves physical health
• Provides social support
• Enhances mental health
• Complements other recovery programs
• Encourages spiritual growth and beauty
Yoga teaches practitioners to live in the present moment: to examine the inner self, to be aware of the breath, and to notice physical sensations. This alone is helpful for battling compulsions and panic attacks. Addicts, like others, hold emotions in their mental and physical bodies. Yoga clears blockages in the energy system, promoting recovery from past trauma.
There are many Yoga techniques for substance abuse. The common link is they are different modalities that help heal and train the mind. That said, the following techniques are a good start as adjunct methods that help prevent addiction.
There are so many to choose from, but it helps to follow along with a sequence that is physically balanced in forward, backward, left, right, and twisting movements. The physical practice of postures, such as Forward Bends and Warrior Poses, keeps practitioners in the moment, reducing compulsions and negative thinking. Exercise also contributes to better self-control and a sense of overall wellbeing.
When people are tense and worried, their breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Controlled breathing brings the senses to the present moment, reduces anxiety, and stimulates the circulatory system with an oxygen-rich flow of blood and lymph.
When working with students who have a history of substance abuse, it has been my experience that they never realized the feeling of euphoria that pranayama can bring. In Yoga classes, students should be made aware of how prana is similar to candy, but they do not have to be concerned with gaining weight or tooth decay. Pranayama does not cost a dime, makes you feel fantastic, and it is calorie free.
Meditation has always been a part of spiritual and healing practices, and some of the world’s most prestigious universities have endorsed its benefits. Whether labeled as prayer, mindfulness, or one of its many other names, meditation is an ancient art recognized by both the traditional and the holistic care system.
The eight limbs of Yoga, like most timeless teachings, promote a healthy lifestyle that unifies the mind, the body, and the spirit. Unless otherwise indicated, Yoga is recommended as a complement to treatment for substance abuse, not as a replacement for more traditional programs. If a society wants every citizen to be a productive part of the community, every safe method available should be an option.
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