Meditation and yoga can be used in addiction recovery to help regulate mood, improve physical health, reduce stress, and manage cravings.
Meditation is the practice of clearing your mind and focusing your thoughts. It involves the combination of physical and mental techniques to help improve focus, reduce stress, and manage anxiety. When meditation is done with the instruction of another person, that is called guided meditation. Guided meditation is an easier way to begin practicing if you are newer to meditation.1
Yoga is considered a mind and body practice. It uses a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. This promotes physical and mental health. Both meditation and yoga encourage concentration and recognizing your thoughts.2
The practices of meditation and yoga are ancient traditions practiced all over the world. Yoga has been traced back to northern India over 5,000 years ago. Meditation, however, seems to be more difficult to pin down where it originated from. There is evidence of the earliest written records of mediation coming from India in 1500 BCE, whereas other forms of meditation have been traced back to Taoist China in the 5th and 6th centuries BCE.3
Regardless of the origins, both yoga and meditation have been introduced to Western culture to extreme popularity and benefit, including helping people through addiction recovery.
People use meditation for a variety of reasons. The practice of meditation has been shown to have many physical and mental health benefits, including: 4
Everyone’s experience with yoga and meditation will be different. Those who approach it from a more spiritual lens may find enhanced mental wellness, kindness, and compassion, for instance. Additionally, with the various types of yoga and meditation available, the positive outcomes will vary.
With an emphasis on breathing techniques and bodily awareness, yoga also has mental health benefits. The connection between the mind and body refers to how our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or beliefs impact our physical health.
Yoga works to focus on this connection in order to improve it. When you engage in yoga practices, your brain cells develop new connections, which has the benefit of strengthening parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, awareness, thought, and learning.8
Not only does yoga have benefits for the brain, but it can also improve mood. Most yoga exercises have the benefit of increasing mood, decreasing stress, and lowering anxiety. This is because of the combination of meditation within yoga practices. Also, yoga can help to diminish emotional reactivity and stress.
There are many different types of yoga that are beneficial for physical and mental well-being. These include: 9
Meditation and yoga are common alternative treatment options used in addiction recovery programs, as both practices have the benefits of reducing anxiety, stress, and physical issues, along with increasing mood. Many symptoms of addiction recovery can benefit from the use of meditation and yoga. Yoga and meditation have also shown some evidence that it can help to reduce cravings.10
Some other reasons why meditation and yoga are often used in substance abuse recovery programs will be detailed below.
Yoga and meditation practices can help to ease withdrawal symptoms by reducing physical symptoms associated with withdrawal. This could include helping reduce blood pressure, lowering the heart rate, easing muscle aches, and decreasing headaches.
Meditation and yoga have the benefit of decreasing depression and anxiety. Both of these mental health conditions are common with substance abuse. The chemicals released from the brain during these practices can help to feel calm and happier.
Substance abuse impacts concentration and focus. Meditation and yoga can help improve that by repairing and creating new connections within the brain.
Many addiction recovery programs use these practices to help manage control and relapse risks by encouraging mindfulness and staying in the moment. Yoga and meditation also improve self-control by encouraging breathing through difficult emotions.
Both meditation and yoga can improve self-esteem and self-compassion by creating positive feelings about oneself. An important aspect of both these practices are compassion, kindness, and love.
Our programs at Ripple Ranch Recovery focus on recovery using holistic and individualized approaches for each of our clients. At Ripple Ranch, we use a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, skills training, 12-step programs, and holistic therapies in order to make sure you get the care you need.
Our holistic therapies include meditation and yoga to improve physical and mental well-being as well. If you have tried traditional therapies and they have not seemed to work, utilizing yoga and meditation may be a great way for you to start reducing various physical or mental symptoms you may have.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and want to learn more about how yoga and meditation could help, contact us today. Ripple Ranch will be with you every step of the way through your recovery so you know you are getting the support and help you need.