When you go to a rehab center, a medical professional will ask questions to understand your addiction history, co-occurring disorders, and unique needs. For example, many people use an addiction to self-medicate for chronic pain, anxiety, and other health problems. Because of this, therapy programs are designed to help you cope with the emotions and physical problems that emerge during your treatment. When used as a part of a comprehensive program, yoga can be extremely effective at treating substance use disorders.

Yoga Therapy

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient mind and body practice that revolves around several core principles. Physical postures are known as asanas, and breathing techniques are called pranayama. Meditation is known as dhyana. Together, these three principles make up the practice of yoga.

When you do yoga on a regular basis, it can improve your flexibility, muscle strength, and heart health. It is also known for helping people who are going through addiction treatment. There are several different types of yoga you can use, but all of them focus on improving your mental and physical well-being.

Originally mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts, this modern exercise was first used by monks more than 5,000 years ago. This ancient practice is now one of the most popular exercises in the world. In fact, a 2017 study estimated that one out of seven adults in the United States practiced yoga in the preceding year.

How an Addiction Works

If you suffer from an addiction, it can affect all aspects of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Modern medicine classifies an addiction as a brain disease because it can rewire the pleasure circuits in your brain. The reward system in your brain developed over millennia to teach your brain to like things that you need to survive. For example, eating is something that stimulates the reward center because you need to eat in order to live.

When the reward system is stimulated, it releases dopamine. This feel-good hormone is intended to make you feel happy. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol cause 10 times more dopamine than natural rewards.

Over time, your brain gets used to this surge in dopamine and becomes less sensitive. You basically have to use more of the same drug in order to feel normal. In essence, your body and mind have developed a tolerance to the drug.

Having an addiction doesn’t make you a bad person. Anyone can develop a tolerance to drugs or alcohol. Once this occurs, your brain has basically been trained to seek out drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, an addiction can also impact your memory and learning ability. The right type of treatment depends on your unique physical chemistry, co-occurring disorders, and addiction history.

Types of Yoga for Addiction Treatment

There are multiple types of yoga that can be used in an addiction treatment program. You may want to experiment to see which type suits your personal situation. The following five yoga styles are the most popular ones used in addiction treatment programs.

  • Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga involves moving at a slow pace. While it still provides a good workout, it is slow enough for beginners to enjoy.
  • Restorative yoga: When you take a restorative yoga class, you can achieve a sense of deep relaxation. This practice is all about deliberately slowing yourself down through passive stretching.
  • Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a subset of hatha yoga. It uses six separate series of athletic poses.
  • Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa yoga has a quick pace, so it is better for someone who has experience doing yoga in the past.
  • Bikram yoga: Bikram yoga is famous for being a kind of hot yoga. Because of the high temperature and extra humidity, this kind of yoga is thought to improve detoxification.

The Physical Benefits of Yoga

Whether you are practicing yoga for your health or through an addiction treatment center, you can enjoy a number of physical benefits. Yoga is able to improve your flexibility, muscle tone, and energy level. It can help to relieve arthritis and back pain. Additionally, yoga can help reduce inflammation, increase weight loss, and boost your immune system.

The Mental Benefits of Yoga

If you are going through an addiction treatment program, the mental benefits of yoga can also help you as you begin your recovery. Yoga is able to improve your quality of life and decrease feelings of anxiety. It can enhance your thinking abilities, memory, and focus. Other than improving your body awareness, yoga can relieve depression and improve the quality of your sleep.

Benefits of Using Yoga in an Addiction Treatment Program

Many of the physical and mental benefits of yoga carry over to a rehab setting. For example, insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom, so being able to sleep better can help ease your recovery process. The following benefits are especially useful during rehab and recovery.

Improves Your Mood

A substance use disorder causes your brain to overproduce dopamine in response to using drugs or alcohol. Yoga can help balance your mood by increasing GABA production. This neurotransmitter blocks certain nerve cells in your brain, which can help alleviate depression. Other than helping with depression, yoga can reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and increase feelings of calmness.

Physical Health

When someone has a substance use disorder, their life often revolves around finding and using drugs. In many cases, this means that they do not have the time or interest required to take care of their physical health. Yoga helps to counteract this effect by improving your strength, flexibility, and muscle tone. The detoxification benefits of yoga can also help remove the last chemical remnants of the drug from your body.


During rehab, you may take part in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In CBT, you learn how thoughts and feelings impact your actions. Then, you can find ways to spot triggers and manage your feelings so that unwanted actions don’t happen.

When you practice yoga, you must become attuned to your breath and the way you are doing each yoga pose. Later, this self-awareness can help you discover harmful habits in your life. With this knowledge, you can begin making progressive changes.


In research studies, yoga was found to boost self-esteem levels among regular practitioners. Each yoga session builds your sense of confidence by giving you a new challenge to learn and overcome. As your physical strength and mental resilience increase, your overall confidence will also improve.


Yoga can help you regain control after you have suffered from a substance use disorder. It teaches discipline, so you are able to react consciously instead of automatically repeating a bad habit. In particular, yoga has been found to reduce addiction-related cravings. It increases dopamine levels, which counteracts the decline in dopamine people experience after becoming sober.

Relapse Prevention

Finally, yoga is an incredibly useful tool for preventing a relapse. Studies indicate that yoga can combat negative thoughts and feelings. Relapses are triggered by a craving, thought, or emotion, so experiencing fewer negative thoughts can help you stay sober. In addition, the sober community you develop through your yoga practice can reinforce your recovery.

Take the Next Step in Your Addiction Treatment

Substance use disorders are challenging to deal with, but you don’t have to seek treatment by yourself. Through the right detox program, you can take the first step in becoming sober. To learn more about how Allure Detox can help your sobriety, reach out to us today.

Published on: 2021-09-13
Updated on: 2024-06-07

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