Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guest Post: Yoga Treatment Therapy by Alex Kerwin

Many people who practice yoga are aware of its health benefits. Yoga postures and breathing exercises can provide both relaxation and stress management. With yoga classes offered just about everywhere these days, more and more people are getting started with this meditative practice. What might not be so clear, however, is how yoga therapy can help with recovery from drug addiction or alcohol addiction. The same benefits, namely stress and anxiety reduction, that yoga offers everyday exercisers can be immensely valuable for recovering addicts. Here are some reasons that yoga therapy can be an important component of addiction recovery. Stress Reduction— With its calm, exact movements and concentration-requiring poses, yoga can provide a relaxing refuge in the midst of a busy day. This is especially true for addicts, who may experience extreme emotions, such as shame, anger, or self-loathing. Yoga can serve as a way for a recovering addict to control and release their emotions instead of channeling them into destructive behavior. Improved Fitness— Yoga poses can help improve flexibility, balance, and range of motion. Because drug and alcohol addiction can take such an immense toll on the body, stretches, bending, and breathing methods can help to re-strengthen the body and reduce shame about physical health. Management of Health Conditions— Regular yoga practice could also help with maintaining a variety of other health conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, or chronic pain, which may go hand in hand with addiction. Advocates of yoga therapy tend to agree that it is most successful when used in combination with other methods of treatment, such as methadone maintenance or group therapy sessions. For recovering addicts who are jumpy and have difficulty soothing themselves, yoga can provide much needed relief from racing thoughts, fear, anger, or frustration. Many experts believe that recovering from addiction is a holistic process, requiring physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Therefore a range of treatment methods are necessary. Traditional treatment methods include behavioral therapy, which may include counseling or psychotherapy, and medication. Behavioral therapy focuses on helping recovering addicts cope with cravings and prevent a relapse. In addition, case management, which may include referrals to other medical, psychological, and social services, can play a big role in treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Proponents of yoga therapy for drug or alcohol addiction see it as most closely aligned with behavioral therapy. Yoga offers the kind of discipline and self-acceptance that is necessary in a twelve-step program, with added physical benefits. Therefore, more and more health professionals are finding that yoga can be a valuable complement to traditional treatment methods. Alex Kerwin writes for to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction.