Each resident at St. Joseph will have a treatment schedule that can include fitness, yoga and meditation. Yoga offers amazing physical benefits–from increasing flexibility to building muscle tone–but more importantly, those who practice yoga and meditation learn how to manage stress and deal with negative emotions. Yoga sessions at St. Joseph are integrated with a practice called mindfulness. As described in our previous post, mindfulness meditation is more than sitting for a while in the cross-legged humming pose popularized by film and TV. It is a reflective activity in which the meditator reposes in a quiet place, engaging and then releasing any thought that comes to mind–including the most hurtful and negative considerations. This is a powerful technique for confronting the deep emotional harm addiction afflicts on individuals and families; it also empowers our residents to gain control of their emotions during the recovery process.
On the chemical level, yoga helps practitioners regulate stress by regulating the levels of two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. Imbalances of these hormones can contribute to addiction, as well as some of its root causes like anxiety and depression. A study in the Journal of Alternative Medicine found that practicing yoga can even change the brain’s chemical composition. In the study, those who participated in an hour of yoga had increased levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is associated with controlling anxiety and depression. Both on a chemical and emotional level, yoga can help those who struggle with addiction ameliorate some of the difficulties of recovery, and combat the issues that contributed to their addiction. Tommy Rosen, a recovery expert and yoga instruction, explains in the Huffington Post: “Of course, one can stay sober without yoga and meditation. It’s just that if you want to lift yourself up out of the energy of addiction and break through to a new level of strength and awareness, one will have to adopt a practice that continues the detoxification process on a much deeper level.” Yoga is a valuable part of the recovery process at St Joseph, and it is also essential to many of our residents long-lasting, comprehensive recovery.
This topic, and others related to health and nutrition, will be covered in more detail in future posts. You can also learn more using the resources below:
Tommy Rosen’s Article about Yoga and Meditation for Addiction Recovery: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tommy-rosen/yoga-for-addiction_b_3523111.html
Yoga Journal: Yoga for Addiction Recovery: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/higher-ground/