Holistic approaches have become a common practice among people in recovery. Things like yoga, meditation, and art or music therapy are being incorporated more and more into treatment. It’s known that yoga offers physical wellness with its practice, but did you know it elevates mental wellness, too? Practicing yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, can be used for mindful movement and meditation, and can help your body feel more relaxed.
Holistic Approaches to Wellness and Recovery
In reference to medicine and treatment, is the incorporation of treatment for the whole person. Holistic practices incorporate therapies that enhance the wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. We are not merely our ailments; we have passions that we enjoy practicing, we need to nurture deep emotions and heal traumas.. It should be no surprise that our mental health and substance use disorders tie together the way they do.
When we focus on the entirety of a person rather than the most obvious problem at hand, we set ourselves up for a more successful route to recovery. Holistic therapies cover a broad range of activities, some of which include art and music therapy, crystal therapy, breathwork, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. Using these modalities in your recovery can help build communication and coping skills, as well as emotional or trauma processing.
Incorporating practices like meditation, breathwork, or yoga into your recovery routine could bring benefits like lowered stress levels, an increase in endorphin and dopamine levels, and a closer connection to your higher power or your spiritual side. These physical and emotional benefits can bring peace amongst the chaos, even just for a moment, and help guide you through the ups and downs of pursuing a sober life.
It is the state of consciousness or awareness while acknowledging one’s thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations. The practice of mindfulness in recovery is used to aid our intrusive thoughts. Having the ability to recognize our thoughts and emotions gives us the ability to move forward from that moment with the next right action.
We want to respond to a situation rather than react. The act of mindfulness is a useful coping tool when we’re feeling emotionally dysregulated. For example, a common exercise used when experiencing anxiety is the five, four, three, two, one grounding exercise. For each number, we associate a sense with it: five things we feel, four things we see, three things we hear, two things we smell, and one thing we taste.
By using this exercise as a grounding technique, we’re able to be in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness by bringing awareness to our surroundings and current state of being allows us to find a sense of calm.
Mindfulness and Yoga
Similarly, yoga uses mindfulness to keep us in a state of relaxation by staying in the present moment. Relaxing background noise, the soothing guidance of the instructor’s voice, practicing breathing techniques, and deep stretching that relaxes the muscles of the body and the mind allow for a sense of calmness and control.
Engaging in yoga connects our minds and our bodies, helping us feel more centered. Some people take the time to engage in meditation while practicing yoga. Whether it’s emptying their heads of all thoughts to stay present or connecting with a higher power or spiritual side, they are in a state where they are opening themselves up to what’s around them.
Other Practices Used in Yoga
Engaging in yoga brings forth some skills we might not use on a daily basis. Practicing breathwork also brings us to a more centered state of being, along with the mindful movement of stretching.
The practice of breathwork in yoga or meditation aids in centering our conscious mind to feel more present in the moment. The conscious control of breathing influences one’s mental, emotional, and physical state of being. The benefits can be therapeutic by slowing down one’s breathing. This cause a sense of calm and a sense of control over our emotions.
Mindful movement is the same as mindfulness, except it’s specific to “exercise”. People get advantage of mindful movement to bring awareness to the body while moving. Checking in and asking yourself what sensations come up for you is a good way to stay in touch and stay present while performing physical activity. Mindful movement is less goal-oriented like exercise and more about doing something that makes you feel good mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Practicing Yoga in Recovery
Recovery isn’t just about putting down the substance we’ve been abusing as a way to escape. In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or any 12-Step recovery program, the focus is on changing ourselves and turning away from our old behaviors. AA is holistic because it encourages a deeper connection with ourselves, a spiritual side, and our overall wellness.
Yoga as AA, encourages a relationship with something greater than ourselves by connecting our inner thoughts with our surroundings. Deep stretching or meditation allows us to be present and focus on what’s right in front of us. By slowing our thoughts and our breathing, we open ourselves up to the possibility of a more positive state of being. A calm, positive, centered state of mind makes for a significant advantage in recovery.