Yoga – a practical part of the rehabilitation mix

With celebrity practitioners such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Heidi Klum and Michelle Williams leading the charge, the popularity of yoga seems to be gaining pace. Yet yoga is much more than a series of physical poses designed to create lean, toned, sculpted bodies. In the midst of the all the ‘A’ list yoga related headlines it would be easy to lose sight of the real potential of yoga as a powerful tool to stimulate our spiritual and mental senses and rebalance our out of sync bodies. This side of yoga is the one increasingly being tapped into by recovering addicts and those who design rehabilitation programs to support them. Now viewed by many addiction specialists as an integral part of the recovery process, yoga is for many treatment participants a major element in getting clean and staying that way. Here we unpick how yoga can be used to support recovery from substance abuse and find out why it is such a game changer.

yoga used in rehabilitation

Yoga – a multifaceted discipline

Individuals going through the recovery process often need to address physical, emotional and spiritual issues linked to their addiction. While other types of physical exercise will help in terms of dealing with the body’s needs post-addiction, yoga can do this and so much more. Even its name ‘yoga’ means ‘to yoke’ which represents the uniting of spiritual, physical and mental practice. The combined discipline of yoga incorporates eight ‘limbs’ which include not only physical poses but also breathing, posture, ethical standards, concentration, meditation, sensory transcendence and self discipline.

Yoga can therefore offer a workout which addresses the addiction on a physical level as well as the underlying mental and spiritual aspects of the problem. Using breathing and meditation techniques, participants become more aware of and in tune with their bodies. This in turn helps them develop a greater respect for their physical wellbeing. Undertaking regular yoga sessions can help calm the mind, improve concentration and promote patience, all of which can prove valuable in sticking to a substance addiction recovery program.

Yoga – the specifics

Many recovering addicts face common challenges which yoga can help deal with. These include:

1. Sense of detachment– Addicts often feel disconnected from their own bodies and become detached from their physical being. This detachment, which once enabled their drug taking by allowing them to disrespect their bodies with harmful substances, can still persist during recovery. In this scenario yoga can help the addict reconnect using yogic poses which require the practitioner to focus on their body. Specific positions such as child’s pose, grounding and squatting reinforce a sense of safety and security. Other movements such as inversion require the patient to go upside down and thereby help them to see the world from a different angle.

2. Physical pain– Substance abuse involves just that – abuse – and the physical manifestation of that abuse can remain a part of the addict’s life well into sobriety. Practicing yoga can help release this pain and address issues such as posture which may be prolonging the physical discomfort. Particular approaches to yoga can also be used to free addicts from underlying trapped trauma. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is one such style of treatment which can help explore issues which may be buried and address these through yogic techniques.

3. Bodily imbalances– Many people in recovery find that their sympathetic nervous system has been knocked out of balance. The struggle to overcome the grip of addiction is a challenge and the nervous system is part of the fight back process. This can leave it out of kilter with heart rate and stress hormones negatively affected. Using pranayama, which is the yoga limb which focuses on breathing, it is possible to tap into and rebalance the nervous system.

Maximising yoga’s potential

Harnessing the power of yoga in the context of recovery from drug addiction must be carefully done. Many mainstream yoga classes focus primarily on the physical fitness aspects of yoga with insufficient emphasis placed on the mental and spiritual elements. Recovering addicts need all these aspects to be collectively addressed. Finding a class which stays true to the ancient roots of yoga and meets these needs is essential. Identifying suitable practitioners through specialist treatment programs is a good starting place.

Another option is to access online resources which specifically deal with addiction recovery. Online conferences such as those hosted by yoga teacher and recovering addict Tommy Rosen are worth checking out. Used carefully yoga can be an effective foundation for living life free from addiction and guarding against long term mental health conditions such as depression. Iconic Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once wisely said,
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

Use yoga to look inside and awaken mind, body and soul to a drug free life.


Author’s Bio

It’s been a long road to the point Mel Chester finds herself at now. She’d originally battled opioid addiction during her mid twenties, after an accident left her in pain and immobile. Whilst in recovery, she tried many other therapies and found Yoga to be one that helped her immensely. After a career in the health care industry, working with other addicts, she took a short career break to become a mom – and now is in the position of being able to work from home, spend time with her family and write for a living

Mel Chester

Freelance writer

Yoga poses for beginners

If you are looking for a fitness plan that takes care of your physical as well psychological well-being, there can be nothing better than Yoga. Yoga exercise routines have gained tremendous popularity for its effectiveness in restoring the harmony of your body mind and soul. Modern research has confirmed that Yoga can relieve you from stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain while imparting flexibility and toning your muscles. Nothing can promote your fitness in a holistic manner the way Yoga does with yoga poses for beginners or regular devotees

In this article, we will discuss some simple yet beneficial yoga poses for beginners.

Sukhasana or Crossed leg Pose: in this asana, you are supposed to sit in a crossed-leg meditation posture while placing your hands on the knees. This position improves your back flexibility and introduces to the spiritual world of Yoga. Practice deep breathing with closed eyes. This posture is very good for relieving your stress.

yoga poses for beginners















Vriksasana or Tree Pose: this posture is very effective in improving your balance and flexibility. Many Yoga gurus have praised this posture for its stretching potential. According to Shea Vaughn, this pose can stretch your body from the toes to the fingers. In order to practice this pose, stand in a prayer posture and stretch your hands over the head. Now, bend your right knees and bring your leg to the inner thighs of the left leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat the same process by alternating your legs.

yoga poses for beginners















Chakravakasana or Cat-Cow Pose Another one of the very simple yoga poses for beginners that will strengthen your back muscles and spine. Start this posture on all fours like a cat. Your hands should be straight to the shoulders. Similarly, the knees should be directly below the hips. Inhale while slightly arching your back as you lower your chin towards the chest. Make sure that this stretching movement from the neck is passed to the tailbone. Now, Exhale and restore your back while lifting your head in the same tilted position. Repeat this process to learn the intricacy of the movements.

yoga poses for beginners















Adho Mukah or Downward facing Posture: in this asana, keep your weight on the legs and raise your hips to make an inverted V shape. Keep your head in line with the hands and lift your buttocks while stretching the heels towards the floor. If you face any problem in your hamstring, you can slightly bend your knees. Try to hold this position for five or six breaths and improve your stretch with each exhalation.

yoga poses for beginners




















Virbhadrasana or Warrior Pose: this posture is known as the warrior pose. The posture requires you to spread your legs in a wider stance. The stretching is almost similar to lunge, but you should learn the right movements to benefit from this Asana. When moving to warrior II pose, both hips and shoulders open to the side.

yoga poses for beginners















Tadasana (mountain) or Dandasana (Staff) Pose: the mountain or tandasana is all about the body alignment. You are supposed to maintain a perfect standing alignment, right  from the head to the toes. The shoulders and pelvis are stacked along your Bodyline. This posture improves the balance in your shoulders. Dandasana or staff posture is a similar pose that can be practiced in a sitting position. This posture helps you in sitting straight with absolutely flat butt on the floor.

yoga poses for beginners















Rajakapotasana or Baby Pigeon Pose: start on all fours and move your one leg between the hands while extending the other leg in a backward motion as if you are doing a lunge. Now, rotate the knee, which is moved between your hands, in such a manner that the calf muscles are flat on the floor and the foot is resting under the groin of the extended leg. Lower your upper body all the way to folded leg or the elbows of your hand. Maintain this position  for five or six deep breathings. Repeat the same process with the other side.

yoga poses for beginners















Balasana or Child Pose: this pose is considered as the most healing of all poses. You can assume this posture at any time when you feel tired or need a break. In this posture, you bend your knees and lower your butt from a downward facing dog position. The chest should rest on your knees, and your shoulders and head are lowered to the floor. In a variation, you can fold your arms  and place it under your forehead. Practice deep breathing and relax as long as you want.

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If you are interested in learning more about yoga exercise and its health benefits from yoga poses for beginners there are many reference books available on the internet which will give you a wealth of information  on how yoga can improve health and wellbeing in your lives. Two that I have found to be personally beneficial are ‘Brilliant Yoga‘ and ‘Clubbell Yoga – Primal 12


James Kelly

High Wycombe, Western Australia, 6057


Yoga workout to improve vitality

When yoga first reached the West, many had a somewhat skeptical view of it. It appeared after all to be some form of Oriental sorcery, what with the bendy poses and rampant ravings about all of its prodigious benefits. Few thought at the time that a  ‘yoga workout’ could improve their vitality.

Thankfully, years have passed and we’re more educated on the subject of Eastern spirituality and healthy-living. In fact, we’re more than just educated; we’re converts.

Most of us have seen first hand how our daily lives benefit from a little yoga. For those who haven’t, or for those still seeking the glorious feeling of effervescence, I will help you with your yoga exercises.

Here are four stellar tips to help you achieve your desired vitality with the help of a yoga workout.


1. Always Stay Centred

yoga workout


One of the first things anybody is taught in a “yoga for beginners” class is the idea of centring. According to the yogic philosophy, all things are aligned, including energy, movement, and emotion.


During our day-to-day lives, our balance naturally moves away from this centre. Posture becomes weakened by stress, and emotions become fraught due to the stimulation of a fast moving world.


Yoga is more than exercise. It’s re-alignment. Yoga poses are designed to fix modern posture problems, and the meditative feeling that comes from specially designed movements is able to melt away stress and worry. The result is a feeling of wonderful exuberance and addictive freedom. That result is the result of realigning.


2. Stay Committed To Your Routine


What’s fascinating about ancient Eastern practices is their emphasis on discipline. This can be seen away from the yoga mat in meditation studios or martial arts classes.


A yoga workout is one the best routines that can possibly be incorporated. That’s probably why it’s officially recommended by health practitioners around the world for those suffering from depression and mental health problems. Learning yoga becomes more than just an occasional hobby practiced whenever one has time. It becomes the embracing of a philosophy; one that’s got your very best interests at the heart of it. This routine when developed helps with everything such as sleep, focus, and productivity. Out goes the old and in comes the new, better You.


3. Improve Your Physical Health With Regular Yoga Exercises


The Chinese icon Siddhārtha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, was a champion for mental discipline, but even he was quick to recognise the body’s role in wellness. Thankfully, yoga improves physical health naturally in a number of ways.


For example, yoga poses are great for detoxification, even better than many natural cleansers you’ll find on the shelves of your health store. It also promotes flexibility and strength.


A healthy body is essential to vitality. It’s often been said that it’s near impossible to have a healthy mind without one.


4. Reduce Stress By Focusing On Breathing


Stress is one of life’s biggest killers. This year 1 in 3 will experience regular levels of it higher than that recommended by psychiatrists. Yet stress is fairly easy to reduce when there’s a will to. Meditation and similar yogic practices have been doing so for thousands of years now. When asking yourself “what are the benefits of learning yoga?” remind yourself that lower stress is one, and a pretty big one at that.


One of the most important ways yoga reduces stress is by the correction of breathing. Most have the tendency to take short, sharp breaths, which are an unnatural variant on correct breathing habits. Breathing should be done at a slower rate to ensure CO2 levels remain normalised, and should be done primarily from the diaphragm and not the stomach. That’s the healthy way, as well as the yogic one.


Summary – Vitality Is An Everyday Thing


Feeling good shouldn’t just be a once every so often thing; it should be an all-the-time thing.


Vitality is the combination of feeling physically healthy, mentally calm, and spiritually connected. Hopefully the above tips have made you realize, if achieving vitality is your goal, there’s no better place to begin than with a yoga workout.


If you are interested in learning yoga there are many reference books available on the internet which will teach you yoga poses to improve vitality in your lives. Two that I have found to personally benefit me are ‘Brilliant Yoga‘ and ‘Clubbell Yoga – Primal 12


James Kelly

High Wycombe, Western Australia, 6057