Many people with addiction problems find it difficult to “live in the present.” Drugs and alcohol are frequently used as an escape from deep-rooted issues. Addicts will also often use their substance of choice in order to change the way they feel. This leads to a disconnect between the body, mind and spirit.
The problem is that many addicts don’t know what they feel, let alone why.
Every person is an integrated body-mind-spiritual system that requires balance between physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being to function optimally. Yoga cultivates body and mental awareness in a caring, nurturing way. “Yogis” learn to listen to their bodies at all different levels. The discipline allows a person to begin connecting with their body and breath which helps them learn to sit and look within themselves. In short, yoga is a union of mind and body.
Several yoga poses have the capability to help relax and calm the body and mind of addicts. These four beginner’s poses can help start a positive routine without overexertion.
1. Mountain Pose
This pose is the foundation of all standing yoga positions. It increases mental focus and places awareness on your feet being connected to the floor, which is very grounding. This pose helps strengthen and tone the whole body, improve alignment and create physical and mental balance. The Mountain Pose will improve posture and, when practiced regularly, can strengthen the body’s core, as well as confidence.
Stand straight with your arms at your side (palms facing in) and your feet together. If you have trouble balancing, stand with your feet six inches apart. Spread your toes out like a fan and distribute your weight evenly across both feet. Lift the kneecaps by tightening the thighs. Move your thighs back and tailbone in. Pull your shoulder blades back and lift the chest. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Look straight ahead. Breathe steadily and rhythmically. Draw your awareness inward. Focus on the present moment, letting all worries and concerns fade away. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Upward Hand Pose
This pose provides a natural way to stretch all parts of the body. It is a standing pose good for relieving tension in the back and properly aligning the spinal column. Done consistently, it helps relieve anxiety and fatigue while filling the body with a sense of lightness and positive energy.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Lift the kneecaps by tightening the thighs. Roll your shoulders back. Extend the arms forward and lift up. Straighten elbows, wrists and fingers. Relax neck and shoulders. Keep your head straight and look forward. Consciously inhale and exhale, keeping your mind in the present moment. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat 3 times as you grow stronger.
3. Downward Facing Dog
This time-honored yoga position will calm the mind and help relieve everyday stress. Downward Facing Dog increases the flexibility of hips, knees and ankles. It has many benefits including elongating the spine, reducing stiffness, stretching hamstrings and strengthening the arms, shoulders and back.
Place palms on floor in front of you. Step legs back one at a time. Feet should be in line with hands. Spread fingers and press palms down. Stretch arms forward while keeping elbows straight. Raise your butt up to sky and move thighs up and back. Breathe deeply while you lower heels to the floor, feet pointing straight. Relax your head and the back of your neck. Breathe deeply, increasing the stretch with every breath. Allow all stress to be released with each long exhale. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Child's Pose
Of all the yoga poses, this may be the most comforting and most familiar. The Child’s Pose calms nerves, lowers blood pressure and releases tension in the neck, back and shoulders while bringing an awareness of peace to the mind and body.
Get on hands and knees. Knees should be hip distance apart and feet together. Lean back and sit on your heels. Extend arms and torso forward. Rest your forehead on the floor. Stretch arms out in front of you. Press your palms into the floor and butt into your heels. Take in a deep cleansing breath. Pay attention to your inhales and exhales and clear your mind of everything except for the current moment. Hold for 1 to 5 minutes.