yoga and addiction recovery
If you are wondering what is addiction, one definition is that “Addiction is a disease of “lack.” At the core level, we feel something is missing and we set out to try to fill the void through a set of behaviors that leave us further depleted. We damage the systems of our body and sap ourselves of “life force.” Our endocrine system gets taxed. Our nervous system is overworked. We live in nearly constant fight or flight, bringing on the horrible consequences of stress.” (source here)
There is a fantastic video blog here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50elMAdtI3E which describes the disease and other things you need to know to understand the “what”
How does yoga help?
yoga for addiction recovery
“The use of yoga to help break addiction patterns is growing. Body centred treatments such as yoga, acupuncture and massage; along with traditional therapy are on the increase and are being used in many treatment centres. Yoga cultivates bodily awareness in a kind, nurturing way. It allows students to start connecting with the body and breath and learn to sit and look within.Compassion for oneself arises and with it, a new ability to deal with stressful situations, leading to positive change. New coping strategies and changing patterns start to emerge, bringing about change both on and off the mat.” (source here) Also “Many people with addiction problems find it very difficult to be present and will commonly ‘act out’ or use their substance of choice in order to change the way they feel.” (source here)
One of the things to keep in mind is that yoga is a toolbox, and you definitely need tools when trying to re-pattern; understandably, yoga can be a valuable part of an addiction recovery strategy because it very powerfully reinforces being in the present moment
Favourite quote of all-time
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” ~ Aristotle
Healthy habits: creating healthy habits and encouraging positive transformation is built into the yogic system
I think I also read ‘we form habits then they form us’. As a Yoga professional, I see Yoga as much more than fitness, it is self-transformation (agree with Joel Kramer)…As a balanced system and practice, gives us tools to substitute comfort for tension, peace for panic, and emotional perspective instead of blockages.
What are some of your healthy and unhealthy habits? Are there any you would like to change? Day to day life loads our system with obvious and subliminal stress which depletes our energy and leads to restlessness and fatigue, among other issues. Asana and pranayama become yogic tools to benefit us by releasing tension and bringing us to a state of conscious relaxation ~ being aware and also, relaxed. In this state, we tend to make better choices. One of the most interesting things I have read is a statement by Gary Krafstow, that “asana practice is not fundamentally about the asanas, but about the practitioner…As a tool of personal transformation, asana can function at many levels of our human system.”
yoga being and becoming are addressed in this lovely quote
“change is the essence of life…be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become”… yoga practice is a strong reminder of change. Someone can to class yesterday with a sore/stiff shoulder. The practices we did proved very therapeutic to her, and when we left she remarked about it. The photo above draws us into movement – from storm to calm. To some degree you have to know where you are and have a idea of where you want to be, even though there is nothing wrong, in the wholeness of the moment, where you are.
BKS Iyengar wrote: ” life inevitably oscillates, moves, and changes between the known and the unknown. So often we are not ready to accept the flow of life. We seek freedom but cling to “bondage”. We do not allow life to “happen” and take on its own shape. Conflicts, opposition, clash of interests and ideas, collision of ego (personal and collective), and limited understanding are all inevitable parts of life. The yogic solution to all these vicissitudes is to study how to adapt and build ourselves up. The key is to control the emotional disturbances and the mental fluctuations”
There are a few practices on my cd, YOGA MIND which will perhaps help you with this process. Starting where you are, just kind of settle into practice and the journey of it. Also check out my workshops for some key peaceful practices
Transformation Through Yoga : Here is a lovely quote by BKS Iyengar: “transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice”.
People show up to practice yoga for many reasons. It is nice to come to your mat with an awareness of who you are, but it is also an on-going journey to discover this, to uncover this. Often the transformation you seek may be possible, but only if you put aside, or work on, beginning with a neutral position. For example, if you always shift your pelvis anteriorly or conversely, posteriorly, then all your poses will be affected. To achieve some kind of transformation, whether it be to have less restrictions in the lower back, or hamstrings, you have to find a neutral hip position first.
Transformation is a process that gets us out of limited self-concepts, and brings a sense of fresh energy to our lives. I believe, as a yoga therapist, that yoga provides tools for transformation both in terms of the physical (posture,pain) and the mental and emotional components. However, you sometimes have to give something up to gain something new.
My recommendation is to explore the limits of your comfort zone, not to induce pain, but to tap into greater depths of your being. In this way, you open yourself up to increased energy and awareness, as well as the possibility of transformation.
The OM Mantra
Using a mantra, such as the classic OM, also pronounced AUM, can be transformative;
it is not about mindless repetition though – so if you use one, the more you understand about it, the more you vibrate on its frequency.I typically start and or end a yoga
class with 3 rounds chanted in unison.
Maybe knowing what it is about, you will be more inclined to embrace the chant. (I have seen it and heard it chanted with more of an “OOO” but also enunciated where the sound is more AUM) ~ Typically for a practice like that we inhale rather fully, with the exhale let the A resonate in the belly, the U resonate in the chest, and the M resonate in the top throat…
“Om is the all encompassing cosmic vibration of the universe”
The OM Symbol breakdown
Let me mention, I am not the author of this beautiful chart and I must have found it from the Internet, where I am only assuming, it is safe to borrow from. This is a great breakdown of the symbol which we see everywhere.
The Om encompasses the waking, dream and unconscious states. As we develop spiritually, we pass through the illusion that is said to veil us and prevent us from moving towards the Absolute state of consciousness
Hopefully even just reading about the symbolism transports your consciousness enjoy and see if you can fit some practice in along side your pranayama
Ancient Wisdom… as a Yoga Therapist I can tell you that there are definite ways of using yoga poses to heal different conditions, aches, pains, and postural mal-alignments. If you are not sure what that means but it sounds right to you, you can book a private yoga class with me. I am now located in Jersey City. Sometimes it is just a question of doing something in a new way, or un-doing some of your old ways…
Do you believe yoga heals?
Take the test: Get calm: for options click here. Then, before practice, set an intention. Probably most helpful to identify just one issue on your mind, or in your body. Write it down. check in with it after. Usually, if you have a balanced practice that is right for you there will be some transformation. It is this simple feeling of things changing and getting better, the positivity of it all, that cultivates our sense of healing, which is quite miraculous (yet simple at the same time)
sometimes you have to take changes breath by breath… I have just moved to Bergen County! Check out my group yoga class schedule or schedule a private yoga class with me (or a Yapana® Stretch One on One Session) to help you with your movements and or transformations.
let go what you think you know, you are organic
a peaceful heart, a calm breath…transformative