Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 38

FEATURE: YOGA AND ADDICTION RECOVERY Yoga and Addiction Recovery By Emma Huddleston Yoga classes revolve around the sound of breath and the movement of bodies in time with those inhales and exhales. A place where “Namaste” is more common than “hello” seems like an unlikely spot for addicts to hang out, but if those addicts are seeking treatment, it may help save their lives. Addicts are in a constant state of dissociation... Yoga is all about reality. Connecting breath with intentional movement re-ignites the link between mind and body that addiction severs. ” 36 One in ten American teens and adults are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction has become an epidemic, and it isn’t going away. Most addicts don’t recover. Even among the ones who do, relapse is rampant. The most optimistic estimates of success rates hover around 33 percent--the lowest are below 10 percent. Only 10 percent of addicts ever seek treatment in the first place, so if only 10 percent of them recover successfully, that means only 1 percent of addicts achieve long-term sobriety. Hospitals, doctors, and treatment centers are at a loss, and some are embracing treatment supplements to the current standard of drug replacement therapy, medical and mental health interventions, and 12-step programs. These supplements include yoga and mindfulness training. How can yoga help with addiction? Yoga boosts physical health, increases distress tolerance, improves self-soothing skills, and provides a spiritual outlet. Most importantly, it stops the process of dissociation. Addicts are in a constant state of dissociation. They dissociate from reality by taking their drug of choice, and they dissociate from themselves by ignoring the physical and emotional damage from substance abuse. Yoga is all about reality. Connecting breath with intentional movement re-ignites the link between mind and body that addiction severs. Yoga delves much deeper than the physical poses, but the yoga masters of the last century all agree that placing the body in these poses is the gateway to further study that brings self-knowledge, personal responsibility, non-attachment, and spiritual connection. Not surprisingly, those three qualities are at the core of twelve-step programs. CITYOGA in Indianapolis is a hub for yoga and recovery. Owner Dave Sims has over thirty years of sobriety, and Yoga of 12-Step Recovery founder Nikki Myers kick-started the studio more than 15 years ago. This April, CITYOGA hosted three workshops with leaders in the recovery and yoga movement. Myers, Rolf Gates, and Taylor Hunt are yoga teachers who incorporated the practice into their recovery programs with amazing results, and they want to help others do the same. Indiana Yoga Magazine had the opportunity to talk to all three of these teachers and find out their unique take on the connection between yoga and addiction recovery. INDIANA & YOGA MAGAZINE ISSUE I