Yoga, Addictions and Hope

The Yoga of Hope and Possibility By: Diana

I have had the great fortune and privilege to begin my yoga and meditation practice at an early age. Growing up in a working class family of Eastern European descent in a conservative part of central Canada, I was very lucky to have come across yoga and meditation at the age of 16. As a teenager, these practices were instrumental in developing a connection to a higher truth, wisdom, and calm allowing empowered choice while navigating life’s challenges. During increasingly tumultuous and unpredictable times, we can look to these tools of inner transformation to help with our own anxiety and to help others through theirs. It’s especially important that teens have access to mindfulness based tools for empowering growth and self regulation, especially when facing addiction.

Yoga has given those working with teens and adults with addictions a connection with a bigger picture awareness, enabling a steady journey on the path to recovery. I can relate to this through my own struggles. We all have addictions, whether they are to food, sex or distractions, so we can all learn from this process of facing and overcoming destructive patterns and beliefs at the source of addictive behaviour. Yoga and meditation have been highly effective in treating addiction by cultivating presence, inspiration, patience and wisdom to overcome the suffering and negativity that underlie addictions. Through this we find hope and motivation to stay truthful and disciplined with our practice.

A heightened sense of present moment awareness can increase gratitude and hope, two major factors that contribute to overcoming addiction. When Staying with the awareness of the present moment a sense of freedom and ease can increase regardless of what life is presents. This ‘slowing things down’ is key to managing cravings and triggers that contribute to addictive behavior. A choice point is created and the individual is empowered to make healthier decisions.

In the Yoga Journal article Freedom From Addiction, Roy King, Ph.D. and M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, has studied the biological impact of yoga on drug abuse. He says:

“From a behavioral standpoint, a significant way to overcome temptation is just staying away from people who use substances or from situations that prompt anxiety….Yoga class is a great place to observe quiet and inner strength. You also have a greater potential to make a healthy friendship than you would in a bar. A yoga studio can offer addicts, who often turn to abuse because they feel alienated, a community of like-minded people.”

In the Yoga Journal article It’s cool to be grounded, Colleen Morton Busch writes about the benefits of yoga on teens:

“Yoga can strengthen character by challenging teens to trust themselves and to stay present through difficulty. As author and teen teacher Thia Luby points out in Yoga for Teens, yoga has been used for centuries ‘to build character and compassion and is a basis for learning unconditional love of oneself and others.’ Not surprisingly, many teens report that yoga endows them with patience and tolerance, which helps them get along with their families. It can also help them hear their inherent inner wisdom above the loud voices of their peers.”

In the same article we hear from Seane Corn who works extensively with teens as a yoga teacher and peace activist. She observes that across sociocultural and racial lines, the kids she works with:

“…don’t know how to define themselves. They are inundated with information, but there is crucial info that’s missing. They are ‘supposed’ to be sexy, smart, and confident, but they can’t reconcile who they are ‘supposed’ to be with who they really are …Yoga teaches [teens] how to recognize anxiety in the moment and challenge the obsessive behavior. They learn to stay in their bodies and breathe deeply–and trust that if they stay long enough, the anxiety feeling will change.” (Yogajournal.com)

 

Works Cited:

Yoga Journal website:

“Freedom From Addiction”  By: By Stacie Stukin,

http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/679

and “It’s Cool To Be Grounded” By: Colleen Morton Busch,

http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/1006

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