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How Does Meditation and Yoga Help in Recovery?

Meditation and yoga can be used in addiction recovery to help regulate mood, improve physical health, reduce stress, and manage cravings.

Why Practice Meditation and Yoga?

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

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Origin of Yoga and Meditation

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.

Why Do People Practice Meditation?

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

  • Stress Reduction: Meditation can reduce stress by teaching individuals to engage in breathing techniques to relax the body and remain in the present moment.
  • Improved Sleep: Meditation can help reduce or redirect anxiety that may lead to problems sleeping, while also reducing tension and relaxing the body.
  • Promotes Mental Health: Some forms of meditation can help improve self-image and mental health.
  • Reduces Pain: Meditation can help diminish the perception of pain in the brain.5
  • Enhances Self-Awareness: People who practice meditation often have an improved understanding of themselves due to internal reflection.
  • Increases Attention Span: The practice of meditating can help to improve focus and attention.6
  • Generates Kindness and Compassion: Some types of meditation, like Metta, encourage compassion and kindness towards oneself and others. It can increase positivity and empathy.7
  • Improves Physical Ailments: The practice of meditation has shown an improvement in those who have physical ailments. This includes lowering blood pressure and heart rate.

Does Everyone Experience the Same Benefits?

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.

How Yoga Poses Help the Brain

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

Yoga and Mood

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.

Types of Yoga

There are many different types of yoga that are beneficial for physical and mental well-being. These include: 9

  • Vinyasa Yoga: Also known as “flow” yoga, Vinyasa yoga is good for those who are looking for higher intensity workouts. It helps with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and sleep.
  • Hatha Yoga: This focuses on balancing the mind and body.
  • Iyengar Yoga: Iyengar yoga focuses on precision and alignment to benefit those recovering from injury.
  • Kundalini Yoga: This combines movement, breath, and sound by using chants. It is great for improving strength, mood, focus, lowering blood pressure, and balancing metabolism.
  • Hot Yoga: This is also called Bikram yoga. This helps to increase flexibility, and it can also detoxify your body through sweating and improve the cardiovascular system to help keep cool.
  • Restorative Yoga: This helps support the body as it calms and rests. It can improve flexibility and decrease stress.

Mindful Treatment in Substance Abuse

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.

Ease Withdrawal Symptoms

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.

Boosts Mood

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.

Redirects Focus

Substance abuse impacts concentration and focus. Meditation and yoga can help improve that by repairing and creating new connections within the brain.

Improves Self-Control and Self-Awareness

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.

Strengthens Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion

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.

Learn More With Ripple Ranch Recovery

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.

Contact Us Today

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.