Yoga and alcoholism are a surprising combination. Yoga is combination of postures and breathing patterns that are meant to align the body and mind. It dates thousands of years. Although yoga has not been a traditional part of the treatment program for alcoholism, it is something that can be incredibly beneficial for people suffering from alcoholism.
Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from alcoholism. Alcoholism is defined by a compulsion to drink and an inability to control their alcohol consumption. Diagnosing alcoholism can be difficult, and it is hard for individuals to seek treatment because of a negative social view of persons who suffer with drug abuse and drug addiction. People who suffer with alcoholism often suffer from mental and physical illness. The individual’s body becomes dependent on alcohol and their tolerance increases. This leads to a cycle of destructive behavior.
Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice of mental, spiritual, and bodily discipline. Originating in India, the goal of yoga is to attain a perfect state of spiritual insight and tranquility. The word itself means “union.” Alcoholics tend to dissociate from their body. Generally speaking, it is likely a function of denial because being aware and conscious of the damage being done to their bodies would cause them to slow down from their drinking habits. The alcoholic brain needs denial order to get what it needs.
The dissociation may be similar to traumatic splitting. Alcoholism causes individuals to justify, rationalize, and minimize dangerous and destructive behavior. An embodiment of this split from the alcoholic and their body are blackouts. Blackouts are literally a shut down from the body. The alcoholic body and mind are becoming farther and farther apart, and the alcoholic accepts all of their symptoms as normal.
Yoga is the union of mind and body, and it is also the practice of mindful movement. Mindful movements are something that the alcoholic has gone a long time without. Postures and breathing through yoga can bring the mind into positive and healthy places. The movements can also heal and rebuild the disassociation that the alcoholic suffers from. As the individual suffering from alcoholism continues to practice yoga, they will experience a renewed sense of empowerment. Another positive effect that yoga can have on the alcoholic is they will begin to care about their body. And as the healing continues between their mind and body, this will give them compassionate for it as well.
The danger that many alcoholics face is that they do not know how sick they are or how much damage their bodies are facing. Yoga acts as a detox for this denial, and it stimulates healing in their minds. Over time, yoga teaches the individual to listen to their body and gain a better understanding of it. Not only can yoga let the individual become more in tune with their bodies, but also with their emotions. Emotional and physical healing are things that are incredibly beneficial to alcoholics. This makes yoga and alcoholism an unlikely combination, but it also gives a way out.