The Benefits of Yoga in Therapy and Recovery

An article from the International Journal of Yoga about the therapeutic effects of yoga describes it as a “3,000-year-old tradition” that we in Western culture use as a “holistic approach to health.” Some may be skeptical about the health benefits yoga has, but there’s a lot of research proving its benefits. Of course, there are physical benefits, but yoga is much more than just a form of exercise or a series of stretches and postures. It’s a mental practice as well.

Often, newly recovering patients come into Lakehouse Recovery feeling disembodied. Our curriculum includes yoga, meditation, and breathwork which can work to restore peace and reconnect you with your body. To learn more about the benefits of yoga, we encourage you to continue reading!

What Is Yoga?

Originating from India, the term “yoga” is derived from a Sanskrit root, “yuj,” which can be defined as “union, or yoke, to join, and to direct and concentrate one’s attention.” This helps to describe the way yoga can help patients reconnect to their bodies when experiencing dissociation. It can help to reconnect to the world as a whole, teaching you to concentrate on living more meaningfully.

The International Journal of Yoga writes that practicing yoga creates a “physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response.” The interruption in that stress response is what fosters balance between the mind and the body. The general benefits of yoga include:

  • Promotion of strength and endurance
  • Increased flexibility and self-control
  • Helps facilitate characteristics of friendliness and compassion
  • Can change life perspective and self-awareness
  • Creates a sense of calmness and wellbeing

As a form of fitness that integrates muscular activity and mindful focus, yoga as a healing practice has four basic principles:

  1. First, the body is a “holistic entity” made up of what is referred to as “interrelated dimensions” that are inseparable from one another, causing one illness of a dimension to affect any other dimension.
  2. Secondly, people’s needs are different, and because of that, their practice needs to be tailored to them and those needs.
  3. Thirdly, yoga is meant to be self-empowering. The practitioner becomes heavily engaged in their healing process, and by taking a stronger role in that process, healing comes more from within themselves.
  4. Lastly, the state of mind means everything in yoga. To heal quicker, individuals need to manifest positive energy and have a positive mindset.

The Effect of Yoga on Stress-Related Illnesses

Continued scientific research and clinical trials have tested yoga’s effectiveness. Keeping in mind the belief that the body is a holistic entity with interrelated dimensions, studies show that stress contributes to physical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other chronics diseases. Some even refer to stress as the silent killer. A healing program that focuses on stress management and a reduced state of emotional negativity can help ease stress and decrease the risk of long-term ailments.

More research shared by the NCBI has shown that practicing yoga can reduce post-traumatic stress symptoms, feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, sleep disturbances, and respiration rate. Tests were conducted on individuals experiencing PTSD after exposure to natural disasters, as well as combat and terrorism. Despite the need for long-term studies, these short trials both showed improved PTSD symptoms, indicating the great potential of using yoga as a way to manage PTSD. Please visit the link above to learn more about the types of health problems yoga can improve, including epilepsy, blood pressure, and glucose regulation.

How Yoga Can Help Manage Substance Use Disorder

One challenge presented with treating substance use disorder is that there are so many symptoms that can manifest, which vary from person to person. This is one reason interventions are frequently used; in order to focus on each symptom. While research conducted published by the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice on using yoga to manage substance use disorder was favorable in short-term cases, they again feel more research is needed to understand long-term effectiveness. However, personal testimonies from individuals have showcased a positive outcome in using yoga to maintain recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an online guide focusing on the pathways to healing and recovery. They write about many different ways to potentially manage substance use disorder, including yoga, meditation, and other traditional Chinese medicine. They discuss the testimony of a woman who was able to maintain recovery through yoga, as it “helped her achieve a healthy lifestyle and refrain from relapsing,” allowing her to find a “mental balance” that she didn’t have before. At the end of the day, that’s what we believe recovery is about; reconnecting to your body and reinstituting a sense of mindfulness in your life. Practicing yoga teaches individuals how to do that.

The 3,000-year-old practice of yoga has become increasingly popular in Western culture as a form of fitness, lifestyle, and way to practice mindfulness and self-awareness. Research is proving the effectiveness of yoga in managing stress-related illnesses, as well as overall improvement in physical health. This research has also shown the effectiveness of managing mental illness, substance use disorder, and recovery in short-term cases. We encourage you to learn more, as a key component of recovery is, in fact, learning self-awareness, mindfulness, and reconnection with your body. That’s why we at Lakehouse Recovery include yoga, meditation, and breathwork practices into our programs and curriculum. We believe you should have control over your healing process, and coming out of a state of that floating head syndrome is essential to recovery. Please reach out to us at (877) 762-3707 to learn more about our programs and to begin reconnecting to your life today.