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Couples yoga to treat addiction


Alcohol and drug addiction can be described as checking out of the moment or escaping from the present. Recovery, on the other hand, focuses on tuning in to the present or living in the moment. Although many recovery centers, therapy groups and individual programs exist across the globe to aid struggling alcoholics in their journey to recovery, multiple studies have shown that yoga has helped many addicts through recovery. One such study is “A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction,” published in a June 2013 Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Yoga and other meditation practices help alcoholics focus their attention on one thing at a time and allow them to practice mindfulness.

Many couples are in recovery programs together. Partner yoga is a newly emerging practice to bring couples together through the sense of touch and awareness. Couples behavioral therapy is also used as a treatment regimen for couples who are recovering from addiction. Many recovery programs have even made specialized treatment therapy groups for couples who are trying to break the addiction cycle from drugs and alcohol.

How yoga aids in recovery

Yoga is a type of Eastern medicine that helps align all aspects of one’s life, including the spiritual realm, physical realm and mental realm. The Eastern perspective on addiction is that it’s not an isolated ailment, but rather a condition on the continuum of human suffering.

Yoga cultivates bodily awareness in a kind, nurturing way. It allows students to start connecting with their body and breath and learn to sit and look within. Compassion for oneself arises and with it, a new ability to deal with stressful situations, leading to positive change. New coping strategies and changing patterns start to emerge, bringing about change both on and off the mat. A gentle, physical yoga practice will bring steadiness to the mind and help detoxify the body.

The theory behind couples yoga

Partner yoga encompasses the most common yoga poses — such as the warrior series, savasana, cobra, downward facing dog and the arm balancing postures — and uses these postures to connect with one’s partner through touch. Holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes and focusing on each other’s breath can release oxytocin, which is a hormone in the body that helps form stronger emotional bonds between two people.

When partners form deeper bonds, they learn how to respect each other and use better communication tools. Yoga teaches couples to practice observing their emotions, rather than reacting to them. When people become more skilled at noticing and sitting with their anger, jealousy and hurt, something amazing happens: Instead of smashing dishes or becoming defensive in response to those difficult feelings, they are able to sit with these emotions, take a step back and communicate their feelings more effectively. Learning how to focus and transform negative feelings into motivation and positive outcomes can help couples who are going through alcohol and drug recovery together.

An adjunct therapy           

Addiction is a negative behavior, and learning how to be mindful and live in the moment through meditation and yoga can bring a lot of clarity when trying to become sober. Couple yoga therapy is a great way to learn mindfulness and can be used as an adjunct therapy for those couples who are undergoing treatment for addiction.

Sovereign Health Group is an addiction, mental health and dual-diagnosis treatment center, that offers complementary therapies such as yoga. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Sovereign may be able to help. For more information, call 855-683-9756 .

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer

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