Studies have demonstrated overall health benefits of yoga, including its effectiveness in the alleviation of stress, anxiety and relief from addictive tendencies. The support a person receives from a mindful and therapeutic yoga practice has positive effects on their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual condition. When yoga is integrated into addiction recovery, it tends to mirror the larger trend of treating disease holistically. Most addiction specialists agree that yoga compliments the therapy of choice, and it is offered at many treatment centers.
Impulse control is a core issue in overcoming addiction. Just as working with the mind can affect the body, working with the body can change the chemistry of the brain. Regular yoga practice that incorporates relaxation and meditation in addition to asana (postures) often helps to reduce cravings, anxiety, and fear – all of which may lead to destructive behavior.
Yoga nidra is a guided relaxation technique which promotes deep healing. It has been widely studied and shown to alleviate anxiety, depression and other issues that can arise when a person stops using alcohol or drugs. The human brain naturally produces dopamine in response to many situations, but especially when something good happens; addictive drugs share this property by stimulating the production of dopamine. A recent Stanford University study used biochemical research into the neurotransmitter dopamine and its relation to addiction. They examined brain imaging which shows that the practice of Yoga Nidra increased levels of dopamine in areas of the brain involved in emotion and motivation.
Yoga Nidra is best practice under the guidance of a trained teacher or with a recording produced by an experienced instructor. You can learn more about my recording by clicking here.