Can Yoga Help Me with Recovery?

With yoga being a powerful method for self-love and empowerment, it is no wonder why so many in recovery turn to this activity for healing. If you are going through a New Jersey detox for addiction or drug misuse, yoga can bring a holistic approach to your treatment.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice of creating a union between mind, body, and spirit. Yoga combines breathing techniques, exercise, and meditation to find a balance within. Yoga provides a foundation to build discipline, self-inquiry, and nonattachment. 

Yoga brings clarity and peace when life seems to be spiraling. Yoga helps change unhealthy habits and unconscious patterns. It empowers an individual to make healthy choices and live fulfilling lives. 

What Are the Different Types of Yoga?


Yoga Sutra, written over 1500 years ago by Patanjali, defines the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The eight steps are a guideline on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. It gives guidance for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline.

  1. Yama – ethical standards and integrity. The Golden Rule.
    1. Truthfulness
    2. Nonstealing
    3. Continence
    4. Noncovetousness
  2. Niyama – self-discipline and spiritual observance. Meditation, church services, praying.
    1. Cleanliness
    2. Contentment
    3. Spiritual self-discipline
    4. Study of one’s self
    5. Surrender to a higher power
  3. Asana – postures in yoga, the body is a temple, spiritual growth, develop self-discipline
  4. Pranayama – breath control, finding deep connections between breath, mind, emotions, 
  5.  Pratyahara – withdrawal from the outside stimuli and focus on the internal self, this allows for the observance of unhealthy cravings and habits
  6. Dharana – concentration, the practice of slowing down the mind by concentrating on one mental object
  7. Dhyana – meditation, uninterrupted concentration. Stage of being aware without focus, the mind is quieted with no thoughts
  8. Samadhi – state of ecstasy, a deep connection to the Devine. Enlightenment

The first four limbs of ashtanga focus on gaining control of the body, developing an awareness of the body, and refining the personality. The last half of the limbs focus on the mind, senses, and higher state of consciousness. 


In 1997 John Friend developed the Universal Principles of Alignment. Anusara is based on the belief that we are all filled with goodness. Anusara uses the physical practice of yoga to open hearts and let the goodness shine. Anusara is a very rigorous form of yoga.


Bikram Choudhury developed a yoga school where classes where held in heated rooms. Bikram is also known as hot yoga and follows a series of 26 poses. Bikram classes are highly accessible and easy to find. 


Hatha is a generic term that refers to classes that teach physical postures. Hatha yoga will not have you sweating, but you will feel looser and more relaxed. 


Iyengar is a form of yoga that focuses on the proper alignment in poses. Iyengar uses blocks, blankets, chairs, and props to help achieve appropriate alignment. Iyengar is not a rigorous form of yoga but is physically and mentally challenging. This form of yoga is perfect for those who suffer from an injury or chronic condition.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is the best way to relax and wind down after a stressful day. In restorative yoga, the use of blankets and blocks allows passive poses with little effort. It has been said that restorative yoga is better than a good nap. 


Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that means “to place in a special way.” Classes are never the same and will test all physical limits. Teachers of Vinyasa yoga teach fluid, movement-intensive practices. 

What Are the Benefits of Yoga?

Through yoga, the body, mind, and spirit work in unison to heal. This is accomplished by promoting relaxation and other techniques like focused breathing. As a result, yoga helps those suffering from addiction with a sense of focus. Then, with a focused mind on healing, practicing positive coping techniques and mindfulness in recovery becomes simpler.

This focus helps the mind get rid of anxious thoughts, which in turn has a physical effect of releasing tension from the body. Yoga practice also rids the body of toxins while teaching participants the importance of honoring the body. For those with an addiction, this lesson can be invaluable.

How Can Yoga Help Fight Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder affects almost 27 million people worldwide. With the growing numbers of people suffering from substance use disorder, research for treatments continues to reveal the benefits of yoga in addiction treatment. The stress-reducing qualities of yoga can help cope with the painful challenges of recovery. 

Yoga is an excellent tool in conjunction with other treatments for addiction. The benefits of yoga include:

  • Physical Benefits – After yoga, a person will feel more flexible and more energetic. The aches and pains of withdrawal are easier to manage if you spend 5 minutes doing yoga.
  • Stress-Reducing Benefits – Yoga uses breathing exercises, gentle motions, and meditation. These exercises can calm nerves, reduce cravings, and can help treat trauma from substance use disorder. 
  • Improved Circulation – Yoga improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and improves oxygen levels in the brain. This makes it easier to cope with the depression that can accompany recovery.
  • Emotional Benefits – Instead of picking up drugs or alcohol, start a yoga session. Yoga brings peace of mind and new healthy ways to manage substance use disorder. 
  • Inner Peace – Yoga has spiritual benefits that reach way beyond any religion. All a person needs is to believe in a higher power. Substance use disorder strips away any sense of inner peace, and yoga can help a person find it again. Finding inner peace refuses the risk of relapse.
  • Increase Self- Discipline – Individuals with a substance use disorder have a hard time saying “no” to a substance. In recovery, individuals build self-discipline to stay sober. To achieve the full benefits of yoga, a person must be dedicated, and this helps build self-discipline. 

Yoga alone can not help a person beat addiction, but combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy, yoga is an excellent resource for helping stay on the road to recovery. 

What Yoga Poses Are Best In Recovery?

Any yoga poses are beneficial during substance use recovery. The following sequence is perfect for beginners.

Mountain Pose 

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and press palms together in front of the chest. Breathe slowly with eyes closed, calming the mind. Every yoga routine should start with this pose. 

Triangle Pose

Slowly move legs apart until they are in an upside-down V-shape. Pull arms up parallel to the ground and turn head to look out past right fingertips. Bend right at the waist and draw the right hand down, while twisting the abdomen forward. Put left hand in the air and hold in a “triangle” shape for 15-30 seconds. Release, come back to the original pose, switch to the left, and repeat. When completed, come back to mountain pose.

Leg Wall Pose

Move from a standing position to sitting and lie back with both legs pressed up against the wall. Pull up so that the behind touches the wall and let your legs relax. Straighten your legs to get the full effect.

Spinal Twist

End with this pose by lying back and pulling the knees close to the chest. Put arms to the side, palms up, and move the knees left as far as possible, hold for five seconds, return to center, and go to the left.

Corpse Pose

This pose is the end of the yoga session. Lie back, feet, and legs apart, close your eyes and breathe. Relax and be present with the benefits of yoga mentally and physically. 

If Yoga Isn’t For You Then Just Exercise

Exercise is the best way to repair the body from the destruction of substance use disorders. Exercise improves the strength of bones and muscles, reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Exercise improves mental health, clears the mind, and prepares the spirit to fight the battle of substance use disorders. 

Exercise alters the brain and reduces stress and anxiety. Both low-impact and high-impact activities offer the same mental benefits. Exercise allows an individual to forget the stress of recovery and focus on the movements of the body. While exercising, endorphins are released that reduce pain. 

Research has shown that regular exercise helps maintain thinking, learning, and judgment skills. Exercise reduces depression, which is common in substance use disorders. A good night’s sleep is vital, especially in treatment for addiction. Regular exercise improves the quality of sleep by stimulating recuperative methods that restore the body. 

There are many ways to exercise that improve a person’s chances of beating addiction. Forms of exercise can include:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • CrossFit
  • Team Sports
  • Weight Lifting
  • Bike Riding

What is the Correlation Between Yoga and Treatment?

Yoga can inspire connections between participants. For those in treatment, these connections can go beyond simple encouragement for their yoga practice. Relationships with other participants can create a support system for long-term recovery.

When taking advantage of the relaxation that yoga provides, a person in treatment can also better address past conflict and develop tools to manage triggers. Moreover, regular yoga practice can offer the routine that many need when structuring life in recovery.

Supplement Your New Jersey Detox and Treatment with Yoga

Starting treatment for addiction can be overwhelming. However, a holistic treatment plan that includes yoga can give you the focus and determination to reach your ultimate goal of long-term sobriety. The Discovery Institute offers comprehensive treatment that can help you with a life free from drugs and alcohol. Contact us today to get started with physical, mental, and emotional healing.