Yoga For Recovery: How Can Yoga Help You Stay Sober?

yoga for recovery

Written By: Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.

Published on Dec 2, 2019 | Health and Wellness

The Power of Yoga for Recovery

The door that opens the potential for recovery is usually pain (although sometimes it’s more like an insistent parent or partner!). The woman who chooses recovery is usually at the top of her game mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Pain just seems to have that power. It can make the most stubborn person finally admit maybe something needs to change.

There are a lot of uncertainties in early recovery, and sadly, more pain to be faced. One of the most important messages in twelve-step meetings is that putting down the drink, the needle, the pipe, whatever, is only the beginning.

The real work begins with the realization that addiction was only a symptom of a much bigger and deeper pattern of spiritual emptiness. So, what next? What else needs to be done? Maybe it’s time to consider adding yoga to your recovery routine.

yoga for recovery


A Personal Testiment To Yoga and Addiction Recovery

Yoga was introduced to my life while I was still in treatment. Using yoga for recovery was one of the hundreds of things I stored somewhere in my head as “oh, I’ll do that someday.” Realistically, I was never going to use yoga for recovery as long as I kept living the way I was.

Addiction completely robbed me of the motivation to do anything besides, drum roll please, use more drugs. To say I was spiritually lost is a vast understatement. I despised myself so deeply that I couldn’t even turn on the bathroom light, for fear of seeing my own face. Like many addicts and alcoholics, my self-hatred was so intense that I had no choice but to bask numbly in that comfortable blanket of total denial.

Recognizing this was the first of many rude awakenings in early sobriety. I was going to have to actually do something about this pitiful lack of self-esteem.

I was given a huge gift through my treatment center for women and that was the thrice weekly yoga class.

Practicing yoga in recovery wasn’t easy for me. There were multiple classes that ended with me in a puddle of tears (not only because I was insanely sore!). Often, as the teacher led us through different positions, I had movie reels playing in my head – all of which were filled with pain, loss, and hurt.

This isn’t something I expected or asked for. It certainly wasn’t something I wanted. Instead, using yoga for recovery was one of the many gifts sobriety gave me, which, had it been up to me, I never would have gotten.

There were days when yoga brought me through more pain, and opened my eyes wider, than any therapy session could. It’s one of those things I still practice on a daily basis, almost two years later! As a woman in recovery, yoga allows me to take my prayer, meditation, and 11th step work to a different level.

The most important lesson yoga’s taught me is that I’m safe.

As a women with trauma, the most important lesson yoga’s taught me is that I’m safe. I’m safe to be open. I’m safe to be expressive. I’m safe to learn how to let go of the false belief that it matters what other people think of me.

In my experience, practicing yoga for addiction recovery is a revealing metaphor for my life. If I’m open, yoga shows me who I truly am.

Read more about how the obsession can be removed.

Yoga Principles Assist With An Addict’s Thought Process

Self-discipline is one of the biggest parts of a solid yoga practice, and an essential piece of staying sober as well. Most drug addicts and alcoholics lack discipline because of the internal turmoil that they suffer. The self-discipline and structure required to maintain a solid yoga practice can help teach them to think about things like consequences and how their behaviors can affect themselves and others. This also includes mindfulness, which is a practice of thinking through your actions.

A steady yoga practice brings you in-tune with your body. It creates more of an awareness of what is going on, how things you eat and drink and do make you feel, and how your mood and how you internalize certain situations can make you feel. A heightened awareness of these things can give you a greater sense of self-worth and self-love. Addicts often lack these qualities and think they deserve to be punching bags, or even worse, to die.

Yoga Can Help Anyone Suffering From Addiction

Yoga teaches love in all forms. Self-love, compassion for others, loving kindness, and the idea that every being in the world is interconnected and our behaviors set off a chain reaction of similar behavior. So, learning this kind of behavior helps addicts treat their bodies like an ally, not an enemy. As far as how they treat others – compassion helps them realize how their actions negatively impact friends, family, and loved ones. There is a concept in yoga called “Ahimsa”, or “non-harming”, which means to be conscious of not harming others in word, deed, or action. Practicing ahimsa consistently would lead an addict away from the selfish behaviors of full-fledged addiction.

As always, treatment for drug addiction is an extensive and comprehensive endeavor. Usually, it isn’t just one thing that will take care of the issue, but multiple factors and lifestyle changes, coupled with professional help. Yoga is a wonderful addition to addiction treatment in any phase – as prevention, treatment, and sobriety maintenance.

Yoga for Inpatient Addiction Treatment

We provide inpatient drug rehab because we understand how difficult it is to break the patterns of alcohol or drug addiction. It is our sincere hope that through our inpatient drug rehab, individuals are able to learn skills that they can then apply to life in the outside world. One of the skills that we believe can help an addict adjust to a new lifestyle as they return to the real world is Yoga.

The main benefit of practicing yoga is that it helps unify the body, mind and spirit. When yoga is properly performed, the mind is calmed, the body is exercised and the spirit is rejuvenated. People with addictive personalities often have trouble feeling at ease. Yoga and meditation allow anyone at any moment to refocus their thoughts and calm their breath.

Our addiction treatment center has professionals who have helped countless individuals learn the benefits of yoga as well as other life lessons that they can apply in the real world. Our addiction professionals are available to help and can be reached today at (866) 326-4317.

Cite This Article
Lighthouse Editorial Team. "Yoga For Recovery: How Can Yoga Help You Stay Sober?." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Published on Dec 2, 2019,


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