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How Addicts Heal Through Yoga

By Constance Ray

There’s no denying that addiction has become a national epidemic. It can affect anybody from
rock stars to plumbers to project managers. Addiction doesn’t care about your profession or
social status. As recently as 2016, it was estimated that over 22 million Americans currently
struggle with either addiction or substance abuse, costing the country more than $484 billion per
year. Even worse, addiction takes lives, destroys families, causes emotional pain, increases the
risk of financial troubles, and ruins the lives of addicts - as well as the lives of their loved ones.
Although we typically think of individuals being addicted to either drugs or alcohol, these are not
the only types of addictions. In addition to drugs and/or alcohol, addicts might also struggle with
other addictions such as codependence, sex, gambling, and more.

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Traditional twelve-step programs are a well-known option for treating these various types of
addictions. Twelve-step programs have many time-tested and life-saving benefits, including
sponsorship, support, structure, and affordability. However, they also have their limits.

For some, twelve-step programs may not be as empowering or effective in healing addictions.
Yoga, on the other hand, can be both empowering and deeply healing for many people.
Yoga is an ancient healing practice that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Since then, the
practice of yoga has spread around the world thanks to its healing potential. The benefits of
yoga can help people heal from any of the aforementioned addictions.
For those in addiction recovery, yoga can be an empowering, relaxing, and extremely spiritual
practice. It can be done in a group class setting, or it can conveniently be practiced for free in
the comfort of one’s own home. Best of all, a yoga practice for addiction recovery can be
incorporated on its own or in addition to a more traditional twelve-step program.
Some experts now believe addiction might stem from a longing for deeper spirituality. Kevin
Griffin, cofounder of the Buddhist Recovery Network (BRN), has written books on this very topic.
A former addict himself, Griffin believes addiction stems from “a misguided spiritual search”
combined with “a longing for connection.”

Many people also feel that Western culture has created a culture of anxiety and mental stress,
which adds to the risk of developing an addiction - and makes it more difficult to successfully
recover. Yoga practitioners believe that a yoga practice, especially when combined with
mindfulness meditation, can ease this mental and emotional pain.
Twelve-step programs can be deeply healing and life-saving. However, for many people, a
twelve-step program by itself is simply not enough to completely break free from the cycle of
addiction. If you (or a loved one) are one of the many people struggling to end addiction, yoga
might be the key to finding long-term healing and lasting sobriety. Whether you decide to
combine yoga with a traditional twelve-step program or cultivate your own personal practice on
your own, we wish you the best of luck in your journey to overcoming addiction

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