5 Reasons Yoga Is Used in Addiction Treatment

by Olivia Mueller on June 12, 2019

Why yoga?

Yes, we know what you may be thinking. “Yoga is only for people who are flexible” or “What if I’m not strong enough to do some of the yoga poses.” So, before we delve more into reasons why yoga is used in addiction and mental health treatment, let’s explore who yoga is for.

Yoga is for everyone.

Yoga is not only for the physically elite, but yoga is for all levels of fitness and flexibility. Also, it’s important to remember that nobody becomes great at something overnight. Yogis who may be physically fit started from a beginning as well. So, improvement takes time, patience and the strength to say yes to things that may be out of your comfort zone at first. Yoga instructors in rehab facilities will walk with you along the way of discovering your physical and mental strength. With time and practice, you may become the yogi who is more self aware, flexible, mindful and physically fit!

It’s also worth noting that some yoga programs focus on meditation, wholeness, and breathing techniques, while others may focus more on physical fitness and challenging poses. Most programs are a combination of both. Whatever the yoga program is, we are thankful India birthed a practice that can be used to help overcome addictions and mental health issues.

So, let’s explore 5 of the many reasons yoga is used all over the world in addiction treatment programs.

1. Yoga helps you build confidence.

woman doing yoga pose outside

Yoga teaches how a person is in control of their body, mind, and breathing, which then helps build empowerment. When overcoming obstacles, an important part of recovery is discovering confidence, self-awareness, and resiliency. For instance, a person recovering from addiction learns to be confident in their ability to say no to things they no longer want part of their life, and can gain confidence in new habits through the daily practice of yoga.

Yoga instructors in rehab facilities are there to teach yoga to all levels. It takes time and patience with oneself to become good at things that are unfamiliar. Yet, confidence arises each time a yoga session is complete because the learner is starting to master something that might have seemed very difficult or impossible.

2. Yoga helps you practice deep breathing.

woman with hands over heart center meditating

Yoga focuses significantly on controlled breathing and for good reason. Deep breathing helps alleviate worries that you may be experiencing, and you can instead begin to focus on being grateful and whole with each breath you are breathing in and out. Practicing more awareness of your breath in yoga also helps shift mindsets to live in the present time. With the stress in the world, sometimes it can be hard to live in the moment, and yoga can help fight the tendency to always live in the past or in the future. Yoga poses focus on using motions paired with intentional breathing that center the mind and physical body. So, practicing yoga can help calm the mind and increase self-awareness.

3. Yoga provides community.

men and women holding yoga pose in a yoga class

Although yoga can be done alone, yoga classes provide another opportunity to build community. Yoga classes in the rehab center are good places to start building connections, and after leaving treatment, yoga classes are typically accessible if one wants to continue the practice. Participating in classes or joining a yoga studio can help you have space to decompress, focus on wholeness, well-being and build friendships with others who share common interests. Research shows that community and support are beneficial to recovery; it’s important to surround oneself with people who encourage and pursue healthy mindsets.

4. Yoga has physical health benefits.

man holding yoga stretch on balcony

Yoga helps decrease stress while promoting physical health. According to an article from Scholastic,1 “Long-term stress responses can cause back pain, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and an inability to make decisions. Constant stress floods the body with stress hormones, which can increase the risk of serious health problems.” While stress on the mind and body from addictions can cause high blood pressure and other health related issues, studies2 show yoga can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Yoga is a great practice to turn to when you are feeling stressed.

5. Yoga helps you practice a positive mindset.

silhouette of woman meditating, seated yoga outside palm tree sunset

Yoga challenges negative thinking with positive thinking. The mindset shift is important for people who may be healing. Often in addictions, negative views of oneself and the world can hinder the person to see the beauty in themselves and all around them. Yoga centers and grounds you to reflect and see the good in oneself. You’ll start to learn how to love yourself and think positive thoughts.


These 5 reasons are only a glimpse of why yoga can be effective in addiction treatment. Once learned, yoga can be done at any time. So, for instance, if it is a busy day and you only have 15 minutes to spare before the next meeting at work, yoga is a great way to relieve stress and pursue wholeness. Doesn’t yoga sound incredible?

To find out more about rehabs that offer yoga, explore our list of luxury treatment centers.

  1. Stress and Drug Abuse: The Brain Connection. []
  2. Hagins, M., States, R., Selfe, T., & Innes, K. (2013). Effectiveness of yoga for hypertension: systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 649836. []