Almost anything comes with stereotypes. When it comes to yoga, many people think of a fit, young woman sitting cross-legged on a mat with her eyes closed and arms resting on her knees. Yoga, many people think, is for a certain body type or gender. This, however, isn’t all true. Of course, many people who practice yoga may fit this stereotype; but, many people who practice yoga do not fit this stereotype.
Similarly, we know that addiction and mental illness do not discriminate, targeting only a certain demographic. Yoga can be beneficial for anyone, in recovery or not. Specifically, however, yoga can work wonders for those of us who do deal with addictions or mental illnesses. Yoga is for everyone!
Exercise Isn’t All Physical
Yoga, along with other forms of physical activity, isn’t only about exercising. It’s great to be physically healthy, but exercising can also bring benefits for our mental health as well. Yes, exercise benefits our physical health because it keeps us in shape and helps us avoid physical illness. It also, however, benefits our mental health because, when we get moving, feel-good endorphins are released that help us feel mentally healthy, too.
It’s also important to keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to be physically exhausting for you to get the benefits from it. When you are practicing an exercise, whether it be going for a walk or doing yoga, you are practicing movement. Movement is great for both our physical and mental health.
Another great part about exercising, and specifically yoga, is that you can get into a meditative state while you are doing it. Meditation is a great way to bolster your recovery. When you first begin to practice yoga, you might find yourself having a hard time quieting your mind. This is normal. Just like with anything else, yoga takes practice.
The more you do it, the better you will get at it. But remember, the point of yoga isn’t to master the pose or the mindset then move on. It’s a contemplative state to stay in and grow in. It’s not something you master then stop doing. It’s a place for growth.
Yoga Isn’t Just Exercise
Although part of yoga is about exercising, yoga is not all exercise. It’s more of a way of life. For Jessamyn Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga, she has allowed yoga to transform her life. “If you allow it, the yogic path will envelop every moment of your life — every breath, every interaction, every gaze, and every thought,” she says. This is because yoga isn’t just exercise. There are actually eight parts to yoga. Check them out below.
Yama is the first limb of yoga. It deals with your ethical standards and your sense of integrity. The focus of yama is on your behavior and how you conduct yourself in your daily life. Within yama, there are five parts:
1. Ahimsa: nonviolence
2. Satya: truthfulness
3. Asteya: non-stealing
4. Brahmacharya: continence
5. Aparigraha: non-covetousness
Niyama is the second limb of yoga. It deals with self-discipline and your spiritual observances. For some people, this might mean attending a religious service and practicing prayer. For other people, this might be about spiritual meditation or spending time with yourself. Within niyama, there are five parts:
1. Saucha: cleanliness
2. Samtosa: contentment
3. Tapas: heat, spiritual austerities
4. Svadhyaya: studied sacred scriptures and yourself
5. Isvara pranidhana: surrender to a higher power
Asana is the third limb of yoga. It deals with the physical postures and movements one thinks of as traditional yoga. Asana helps you view your body as a temple in which you can learn to grow. Through practicing asanas, you are able to develop many different areas of your recovery, including discipline and concentration.
Pranayama is the fourth limb of yoga. It deals with controlling your breathing. When you are able to gain control over your breath, you begin to notice the connection between your full being — mind, body, and spirit. The great thing about pranayama is that you can practice it on its own or implement it into your daily life.
Pratyahara is the fifth limb of yoga. It deals with sensory transcendence. During pratyahara, you are able to move your awareness from outside of yourself to tnside of yourself. You notice your senses and are able to detach from them, focusing your attention within yourself. This helps with inner growth.
Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga. It deals with concentration. Once you have been able to withdraw from your senses, you are able to practice concentration. Quieting your thoughts and focusing on a single thing is the focus in dharana.
Dhyana is the seventh limb of yoga. It deals with meditation. Meditation is about concentration that is uninterrupted. Awareness, without focus, is the goal of dhyana.
Samadhi is the eighth stage of yoga. It deals with transcendence. This is a stage that is often thought of as ecstasy. You feel a peaceful connection with yourself because you have put all of these practices into play and you are making the most out of your recovery.
Yoga in Recovery
Yoga in recovery is a great thing that we practice here at Sober Life. The more you are in connection with your mind, body, and spirit, the more you are able to live in sobriety and joy. Your addictions and mental illnesses do not have to control your life. Through the practice of yoga and other treatment modalities that we offer, you have the power to take control of your recovery.
Sober Life is here to help you become your best self in your recovery. Yoga can help you get there. Call us today at 1-619-542-9542. We can’t wait to speak with you and help get you started on your recovery journey today!