Addiction, exercise, recovery: Yoga practice and mindfulness in addiction recovery

contributing author: Katie McGrath

Continuing with our posts on the  relationship between addiction, exercise, and recovery, let’s discuss the benefits of yoga and

The origins of American Yoga practice

America first turned to yoga in the 60s as a way to get high without using drugs. Over the years, yoga has grown in popularity as evidence regarding it’s mental and physical health benefits accumulated. Yoga practice incorporates stretching and strengthening exercises that unite the body, mind, and spirit.

There are different forms of yoga that are available depending on one’s goals and personal preference. Ananda and Hatha are more gentle versions of yoga that focus on meditation and breathing to provide a relaxing escape after a busy day. Ashtanga and Kundalini are aerobic and energizing forms of yoga that are perfect for people who crave a more demanding workout. Living in Los Angeles has introduced me to a number of relatively new Yoga methods including Power Yoga, a more strenuous, strength-based, type.

Mindfulness and Yoga

Mindfulness is a popular meditation technique that is often used in combination with yoga to promote self-awareness. The concept of mindfulness is to become aware of one’s own thoughts, emotions, and sensations by breathing and concentration. Mindfulness increases sensitivity to bodily movements and states which may explain why it has been linked to improved immunity (1).

Yoga and mindfulness form a union to enhance positive feelings and outlooks. Research has shown that the combination of yoga and mindfulness can provide energy, satisfaction, and stability on an addict’s road to recovery (1).Beach Yoga

Yoga produces long lasting changes which helps maintain a healthy lifestyle (2). It is a positive way to cope with negative emotions, depression, and anxiety (1). Yoga creates a sense of calm and solace that most people do not have the chance to experience in their everyday life.

Yoga Journal has a collection of stories revealing the healing powers of yoga and can be used as one source to direct you if you’re interested in looking into yoga practice.

Stay tuned for more on addiction, exercise, recovery…


1. Schure, Marc B., Christopher, John, Christopher, Suzanne. Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counseling students through yoga, meditation, and Qigong. Journal of Counseling & Development. Vol 86(1), Win 2008, pp. 47-56

2. Holthaus, Stephanie M. A phenomenological study: Yoga during recovery from drugs or alcohol. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The sciences and Engineering Vol 65 (8-B), 2005, pg.4289

3 responses to “Addiction, exercise, recovery: Yoga practice and mindfulness in addiction recovery”

  1. I am pictured in this article. I am a yoga teacher blessed to teach yoga at the beach. What the author may not be aware of… is that I am a recovering alcohol and drug addict (11 years sober by the grace of God, the 12 step program and most defiantly my yoga practiced keeps my grounded in the moment)
    Namasté Rhonda

  2. Wow!

    Well, I don’t think I could have asked for a better comment or coincidence.

    Thank you Rhonda for reading, for letting me know that it’s you in the picture, and for turning your life around.


  3. Hi,
    Really good post. I have good time reading it. I been practicing yoga for 7 years now, and its amazing what practicing yoga could do for your body and soul. If I dont practice a day, I just miss it a lot. Its becoming my everday “addiction”. Its amazing what the right breathing and phisical practice can do for you. I oractice stanga vinyasa yoga, also not so old techniqe, but everyone should find their best practice.

    Keep up the good work.

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