When you hear the phrase “strike a pose,” there is a decent chance your mind immediately serves up “Vogue,” the 1990 Madonna classic. The admonitions to “strike a pose” and “vogue” are, of course, most of the substance of the song (along with a list of famous movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood), so it is easy to understand why Madonna might come to mind right away. But while voguing is certainly a worthwhile artistic pursuit, we want to focus on a different set of poses in this blog entry—the poses that make up the practice of yoga.
As far as we know, Madonna has never released a hit song about yoga, but the practice can provide sobriety support for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder.
You may well feel skeptical about this. What in the world could a bunch of poses with names like “downward facing dog” possibly have to do with maintaining your sobriety? That’s a fair question. To answer it, we propose taking a good look at the benefits of yoga for those in recovery.
Let’s Start with Neuroplasticity
Neural pathways form in our brains when we repeat a behavior again and again. Those pathways can develop around negative behaviors like drug or alcohol use, or they can form around positive behaviors. For those who have developed a substance use disorder, it is important to take advantage of the brain’s natural neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to forge new pathways around new behaviors—in order to increase the likelihood of staying sober.
Yoga has been shown to support the brain’s neuroplasticity, which in turn supports your sobriety. That is a pretty good reason to give the practice a try.
But it isn’t the only reason.
We Want to Stress that Yoga Can Reduce Stress
Those who practice yoga often feel less stress and anxiety, and that can be of great benefit for a person working to maintain their sobriety.
We all experience stress, of course, but as stress begins to build up, it can start to feel overwhelming. A person in recovery who is feeling overwhelmed may well turn back to drugs or alcohol in an effort to lessen the negative feelings that come with stress. To prevent that scenario, it is important for those in recovery to find effective ways to lower their stress levels. Yoga can play an important part in accomplishing that.
Yoga Can Address a Range of Other Potential Problems
Support for neuroplasticity and lessening of stress are pretty strong reasons for giving yoga a go. But the practice offers even more benefits for those in recovery.
For example, yoga can help you withstand the symptoms of withdrawal, and it also tends to reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings for drugs or alcohol. Further, committing to regular yoga practice can reduce feelings of boredom and of loneliness—two feelings that if left unchecked can pose (see what we did there?) a danger to your sobriety.
Yoga also serves as a kind of physical mindfulness practice, connecting your body, mind, and breath. Mindfulness is all about staying present rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, and yoga can help you develop a more mindful approach to life—an approach that can help you stay sober.
Getting Started Is Easy
If you are ready to give yoga a try, it is pretty easy to get started. You need some appropriate clothing and a mat. You need to decide whether you’d like to seek out a yoga studio in your community or get started with some online resources in your home. And that’s about it.
As is true of many things, the practice of yoga gets deeper as you participate for longer periods of time. You’ll develop more flexibility and strength over time (and these enhancements to your physical well-being also support your sobriety), for example. Still, yoga is also quite accessible right from the start—and this ease of entry means you can give it a try to see if you find that striking yoga poses has striking benefits for your recovery.
Let Us Pose a Question: Are You Ready to Get Sober?
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we know that people tend to bend themselves all out of shape in an effort to avoid facing up to their problems with drugs or alcohol. But when you have reached a point where it is clear that you simply must get help, we are ready to provide personalized care grounded in evidence, expertise, experience, and compassion. We will help you get sober and provide you with resources, strategies, and support to stay sober over time.