Be Flexible and Make Yoga Part of Your Recovery Plan

January 25, 2024

Yoga, Self-care, Relapse prevention, Stress management, Mindfulness,

The Value of Staying Present in Recovery

In a couple of previous blog posts, we have discussed the value of mindfulness practice—a form of meditation that helps people live in the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

Much of mindfulness practice involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed while bringing your attention to the rhythm of your breathing. This routine can help you learn to stay present in your day-to-day life.

Mindfulness can be truly impactful for many people—including those in recovery from a substance use disorder. But it isn’t a good fit for everyone, including those who find sitting still to be quite difficult. For those folks (or for those who really enjoy mindfulness practice but would like to add to their routine), yoga offers a great alternative. That is because yoga, for all intents and purposes, is mindfulness in motion.

Let’s take a closer look at yoga and the ways in which it can support your recovery.

Yoga Can Help Reduce Stress

It is undeniable that the world is full of things that stress us out. The daily news can be stressful. Our jobs can be stressful. Our relationships can be stressful. And that barely scratches the surface of all the situations each of us face on a daily basis that add to our stress levels.

Yoga offers a sanctuary—a period of time and activity that allows us to step away from all of the stressors that can sometimes seem unavoidable and unending. Moving gently from pose to pose, stretching your body, and paying attention to your breathing can help you find relief from stress. And less stress means more support for your ongoing sobriety.

That is because feeling stressed out can fire up the urge to use drugs or alcohol again as a way to address those difficult feelings. Yoga offers you real stress relief so that you are less likely to resort to substance use to feel better.

Yoga Supports Your Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is a big word for a fairly simple concept. Our brains have the amazing ability to develop new mental pathways that can help us move away from negative behaviors like substance use. That “plasticity”—or ability to change—is extremely important for a person who is in recovery from a substance use disorder. That is the case because substance use creates one set of pathways in the brain, and getting and staying sober requires forging new pathways. Neuroplasticity makes that possible.

Studies show that practicing yoga actually supports ongoing neuroplasticity, giving your sobriety efforts a meaningful boost.

Yoga Offers Other Benefits as Well

Reduced levels of stress and increased neuroplasticity are two significant benefits that make it worth giving yoga a try in recovery. But they are not the only potential benefits.

Practicing yoga can lead to fewer and less intense cravings for drugs or alcohol. It can also help you weather any lingering symptoms of withdrawal. If you decide to attend an in-person yoga class, the social experience can help fend off loneliness. And if you decide to practice at home with the help of online or other resources, you still get the benefit of preventing boredom. Addressing cravings, loneliness, and boredom are all effective ways to protect your hard won sobriety.

Yoga Offers You Plenty of Flexibility

We noted above that some people enjoy doing yoga with others in a class setting, and other people prefer to practice yoga on their own (perhaps with an online guide in the early going and then, perhaps, without). And there are plenty of people who enjoy both approaches.

That flexibility, if you will, is one of the great things about yoga. You don’t need much equipment—some comfy clothes and a mat pretty much cover it—and you don’t need all that much space. That means you can get the benefits of the practice just about anywhere—even if you are traveling—so you can always turn to this tool to protect your sobriety.

The Time to Reclaim Your Sobriety is Right Now

Farley Center—located in Williamsburg, Virginia—provides personalized treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. We provide medically supervised detoxification, a robust rehabilitation program that includes both group and individual therapy, and a continuum of care that ensures you have the resources and support you need to start your recovery journey with confidence.

Too often, a person who is struggling with drugs or alcohol will put off getting the help they need because they are embarrassed or in denial or simply struggling so much that they can’t even begin to figure out how to get help. Often, that means an individual struggles—and experiences ongoing negative impacts to both their physical and mental health—for longer than they need to.

If you need help, the time is now. We are ready when you are.