This just might be one of the most inspiring comments regarding yoga and recovery that I’ve read in a while. It’s even more encouraging because it’s credited to a teen:
“Yoga relieves the pain a lot. Sometimes it takes all the pain completely away. It gives me a chance to forget about all my problems, and is a great tool for me to use that will help me deal with anger, stress and cravings for drugs. I think yoga will help me stay sober.” Street Yoga participant from a Residential Alcohol and Drug (RAD ) program
I’ve talked about this before, how there is an intrinsic, healing factor when one brings yoga into their recovery. When we use and abuse, we disconnect. We tune out, shut down, and ultimately unplug from reality. Sometimes, particularly in cases of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, the desire to compartmentalize and/or tune out is particularly prevalent. With yoga, the goal is to focus on one thing: your breath. In those moments, when we are able to do just that, it’s possible for a transformation to occur. Within that focus comes the potentiality of acceptance, and with acceptance eventually comes healing.
In my past posts about yoga, I’ve talked about its connection to recovery in relation to eating disorders. The power of yoga doesn’t stop there, though. Its benefits can be useful in all realms of addiction. Because yoga asks us to focus our energy on our breath, we soon find it allows us to also let go. It provides the practitioner with an opportunity for self-reflection in addition to body awareness. In the hour+ that one is practicing, stress, pain, misery, et cetera, are permitted to take a break. The addict in our head, so to speak, gets put in time out.
As one of my favorite teachers likes to say, “If you bring your “crud” into yoga, your yoga turns to “crud.” While he likes to say it with more colorful language, the sentiment remains the same. Yoga is an opportunity to leave it all at the door. Perhaps after a blissful hour of one breath at a time, you won’t feel the need to pick it back up on the way out.