Yoga is a technique that uses physical postures and controlled breathing to lengthen and strengthen the spine, increase flexibility, calm the mind, improve concentration, and promote patience. Yoga can also contribute to a greater sense of control in more acute states when experiencing cravings, insomnia, agitation, etc. Regular practice is needed to fully experience these benefits.
Addiction, Recovery and Yoga
In this professionally made documentary film people speak candidly and compellingly about their addictions, working the 12-step program, and how yoga helped them in various ways with their recovery. The film is made by a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher and yoga therapist.
American Yoga Association (AYA)
This site provides information on the different types of yoga and guidance on how to choose a qualified teacher.
The site presents the Institute’s Guide to Programs, Online Courses, Certification Programs, meditation retreats and residential programs. It also includes articles and digital media to read, listen to and view.
Yoga Nidra CD / Yoga for Health
Created by a certified substance abuse counselor and trained yoga instructor, this CD is deep guided relaxation not physical yoga instruction. Yoga Nidra is an ancient method of deep rest, but unlike sleep you remain completely conscious and are able to release tension and anxiety. In this relaxed state you can plant the seeds of change in the subconscious mind through “sankalpa”, a Sanskrit word for a resolution that you make to yourself at the beginning and end of each practice. It is a powerful method for reshaping your personality and releasing old habits that interfere with your health and well-being. Research has shown that yoga nidra has been used to alleviate anxiety and depression and other issues that can arise when a person stops using alcohol or drugs. Available as a download ($9.99) or CD ($14.99) on cdbaby.com.
Yoga Recovery Online
Presents online yoga recovery videos by Kyczy Hawk, founder of Yoga and Recovery and creator of SOAR (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) program. Classes can be selected by style of yoga, length of sessions (from under 30 minutes to over an hour) and level of difficulty from beginners to advanced. Sessions are coordinated with the 12 step program. Classes start at $5.00. Monthly subscriptions are available for $8.00.
You can also learn about a type of yoga that focuses on meditation and breath-work described in our Meditation section here.
Khanna S, Greeson JM. A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 21(3):244-52, 2013.
A small but growing number of well-designed clinical trials and experimental lab studies on smoking, alcohol dependence, and substance use support the effectiveness and proposed mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based therapies for treating addiction. Very few studies have been conducted on the specific role of yoga in treating or preventing addiction but current findings increasingly support yoga and mindfulness as promising complementary therapies for addictive behaviors.
Lohman R. Yoga techniques applicable within drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes. Therapeutic Communities. 20(1): 61-71, 1999.
This article describes specific yoga techniques used for detoxification and rehabilitation including breath control, relaxation and meditation, postures, diet and chanting. Research results strongly suggest that yoga is a positive motivator for rehabilitation and an aid to detoxification. Yoga used in conjunction with counseling and group work appears to support and further the healing process.
Yoga for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Substance Abuse: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2015 Jun 22. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK304564/
Three studies assessed three different forms of yoga in different patient populations for treating substance abuse. One compared Sudarshan Kriya and Practices yoga (one time per day for six weeks) to a control group who did breathing exercises only. There were significant improvements in general well-being and anxiety for patients in the yoga group compared to the control group. Another study found that yoga was a feasible added treatment for alcohol dependence. Patients in the yoga group showed positive changes in alcohol use at six-month follow-up that were larger than that experienced by the control group. A third study found that yoga may be helpful as an added treatment for women undergoing outpatient detoxification for heroin dependence. Women in the yoga treatment group experienced statistically significant improvements in quality of life and mood states after six months of yoga treatment.
65 easy to follow yoga and meditation classes with a library of over 280 poses with detailed instruction to help you customize or create your own unique HD video classes. Stay on track with class scheduling. Good for beginners and for more experienced practitioners, works on iPhone, iPad and new Apple TV.