Yoga For Addiction Recovery
During my first 100 days without alcohol, I revealed that I took up yoga as a new hobby to get fit, relax and use up some of my newfound free time. Today, I’d like to zone in on yoga as more than just a new hobby. I want to discuss all the ways you can use yoga for sobriety, addiction, and recovery.
As I’ve chosen a DIY approach to sobriety I’m no stranger to the notion of cobbling together multiple strategies to find what works best.
As we all change, grow and evolve, no matter what recovery approach we choose, I believe we should continuously seek new ways to become the best versions of ourselves we possibly can.
Adding yoga to your addiction treatment strategy may help you do just that!
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✅Yoga Quick-Start Guide
1. Check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube — she’s great for beginners
2. Download my FREE printable chart of 24 yoga poses for beginners (you can download the chart from my free resource library – request the password at the bottom of this post)
3. Optional items include a cheap yoga mat like this one, yoga blocks like these for balance/posture, and this kind of yoga strap for stretching.
1. Yoga can be lots of fun
Most people drink at least partly to have fun. When alcohol is first removed, one of the biggest challenges for those new to sobriety is boredom.
Though yoga is certainly associated with relaxation and calmness, it can also be lots of fun too! Depending on the style, intensity and the personality of the yogi, really getting focused and developing a good practice could help you beat the boredom blues in early sobriety – and keep you from relapse.
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2. Yoga helps to relieve stress
One of the biggest benefits of yoga is its ability to act as a stress-reliever, hands-down. This makes it yoga a huge asset to your sobriety recovery toolbox and adding it to your life early on can pay off huge down the road.
In early sobriety, many go through a time when everything is rosy and perfect, and it seems like getting clean is the answer to all life’s ills. This time (called the pink cloud) is usually short-lived, however. Once those pink clouds fade away, life’s stressors come rolling back in thunderclouds and you still have to find healthy ways to cope.
In fact, one of the critical mistakes in early sobriety is failing to have a good coping mechanism in place.
Using yoga for sobriety early on is a great way to prepare. You’ll automatically have a strong coping mechanism to ease your stresses when life throws you a curveball.
3. Yoga takes up time
If you’re totally new to yoga, there are so many ways to get your practice on. You can do it in your living room following along to free yoga videos (I recommend Yoga With Adriene). You could pick up a really good yoga book or audiobook. Or you could attend a class at your gym or a yoga studio in your area.
I started in my living room then eventually took classes at my gym, and this was really good for two reasons. First, making plans for an early Sunday morning yoga class gave me more incentive to avoid getting lit Saturday night. Second, yoga classes at the gym are LONG. Some can go an hour and a half or more! If you crave and decide to hit the yoga studio, chances are by the time you’re finished, the craving has passed. In this way, yoga for sobriety is a great fit!
4. Yoga classes introduce you to new people
Another big topic for those newly sober is the disconnect between yourself and your former drinking buddies once you stop drinking.
The fact of the matter is some people will support you, stand behind you and cheer on your new, healthy change. Others simply won’t. Maybe it shines a light on their own alcohol issues. Maybe they genuinely don’t see why anyone would want to stop drinking. Regardless, you have to keep moving forward. You have to do what’s best for you.
In the unfortunate event that you wind up isolated from your former group of drinking friends, you’ll need to find ways to socialize and meet new people. Yoga classes can help introduce you to new people in early sobriety. And a huge benefit is most of these people are health-conscious, too!
That’s not to say yogis don’t drink alcohol, but at least the first activity you know you have in common won’t be based upon alcohol – so it’s a start.
5. Yoga gets you in tune with yourself and your body
Yet another way you can use yoga for sobriety is through the intense inner connection you have with yourself and your body.
Yoga gave me a level of self-awareness that I simply had never known before. All the breathing, focus, and quieting of mind helped me really go inward, and I began to pay attention to different sensations I hadn’t really noticed before. In a sense, I became more in tune with what made me feel good, and what made me feel bad.
This definitely isn’t a cure-all, and as an isolated thing, it won’t stop you from drinking. But it’s no secret that many who first begin practicing yoga also make other life changes simultaneously – you kind of want to just be cleaner, for a lack of better terms. Another point for yoga for sobriety!
6. Yoga helps you lose weight
Yup… the vanity argument strikes again. Looking better is one of my favorite benefits of new sobriety. Combined with more beautiful skin, prettier hair and whiter eyes, a slimmer waistline and more defined collarbone add to the aesthetic.
Yoga will absolutely tone you up and slim you down if you do it enough, and when you look in the mirror and see a fierce, new you staring back… really why would you be so excited to throw it all away? Exactly.
7. Yoga gives you goals
There are so many reasons to begin a yoga practice. Some people really enjoy the progress aspiration of it all. While yoga isn’t all about asanas (poses), you have to admit they are beautiful to see.
For me, starting out I was so rusty, but I quickly progressed. I’m working constantly on getting into more advanced positions. And I feel such a sense of achievement and accomplishment when I do something new!
Acknowledging that going on a bender would prevent me from advancement is another motivator for staying dry. And the overall badassness I feel when elegantly inverted is amazing. I don’t want to let that go for anything… especially not booze!
Healing Addiction Through Yoga
In conclusion, sobriety is a long-game and there really are no quick fixes. Whether you use rehab, support groups, counseling or go it alone, you’ll likely have to piece together a number of ways to complete your holistic approach to alcohol dependence or addiction recovery treatment.
Using yoga for sobriety is a great addition to your yoga toolbox. If you already practice, good for you! If not, give it a try!