Yoga and Meditation: A Holistic Approach to Addiction Recovery

Yoga and Meditation A Holistic Approach to Addiction Recovery

You know how you get advice without ever asking for it? Well, if you’re battling addiction, it feels like everyone’s suddenly got a PhD in “fixing your life.”

“Remember your loved ones.”

“Hit the gym.”

“Don’t let your history dictate your future.”

And often, they’ll throw in yoga and meditation.

We get it. Most of these people genuinely care. But when you’re just stepping onto the recovery road…

There are days when it’s tough, when you wish you could wear a sign that says “no advice today, thanks.” 

You may have been through rehab, perhaps even multiple times. However, after the program, the cycle often feels like a relentless loop of relapse and recovery. And amid this, a never-ending chorus of advice can sometimes feel like an added burden.

So, where does the truth lie? How do you break this exhausting cycle?

While some of these advisors might be touching upon valid points, perhaps the larger picture needs more focus.

Real recovery is about addressing more than just the addiction. It’s a holistic journey. Think about it: has any addiction ever only impacted one facet of one’s life?

Holistic recovery aims to embrace the broader spectrum. It’s not solely about tackling the addiction head-on; it’s about understanding and addressing everything that feeds into it. It’s about nurturing the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Yoga and meditation, often thrown into conversations as trend topics, genuinely have deep roots and offer solace and strength to many navigating recovery.

If you’re intrigued, keep reading. You’ll learn how yoga and meditation could potentially be anchors in your recovery journey. 

Holistic Approach to Recovery

Holistic recovery zooms out to look at the whole picture: body, mind, and spirit.

The journey continues by addressing every facet of life that might tug you back into old patterns. It’s about reducing the pull of relapse.

Now, while holistic methods add a valuable layer to traditional treatments, they aren’t standalone solutions. 

However, combining holistic strategies like yoga and meditation with conventional treatments can pave a more personalized path to recovery.

Many find that yoga and meditation support their recovery journey and enrich their overall well-being—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (1)

Plus, these practices can reshape the brain, encouraging sustainable behaviour changes. Pairing these holistic tools with standard treatments offers a fuller, more encompassing approach to overcoming addiction.

Yoga and Addiction Recovery

Yoga, with its postures and movements, offers both physical engagement and relaxation, serving as a valuable tool for those on the journey of addiction recovery.

Through steady breathing and deliberate motions, yoga naturally releases endorphins. With roots spanning over millennia, this ancient practice cultivates mindfulness, enabling individuals to navigate negative emotions and thoughts in healthier ways. (1)

These postures foster physical strength, agility, and endurance while simultaneously alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, resulting in a more harmonized mental state. (1)

Notably, studies have observed the positive effects of yoga on individuals undergoing treatments like methadone for opioid addiction.

Several research efforts highlight the role of mindful practices, such as yoga, in complementing traditional addiction treatments. One significant reason is yoga’s influence on the brain’s GABA neurotransmitter. Essentially, GABA acts as the brain’s in-house relaxant, aiding in managing stress and anxiety. By boosting GABA levels, yoga helps reduce these common withdrawal symptoms. (2)

A study from Sweden offers compelling evidence. It compared two groups battling alcohol dependence: one group undergoing traditional treatment and another combining traditional treatment with yoga. The latter group exhibited a more significant reduction in alcohol consumption, underscoring the synergistic effect of combining yoga with conventional treatments. (3)

Meditation and Addiction Recovery

Meditation taps into the brain’s reward circuitry, much like drugs and alcohol, but without the harmful side effects. Instead of seeking external sources for fulfillment, meditation draws one’s attention inward, fostering a stronger connection between mind and body. (1)

Regarded as a therapeutic instrument in healthcare, meditation facilitates inner emotional mending. Given the various meditation styles available, one can experiment to identify the best fit for their unique journey.

Mindfulness, a meditation variant, emphasizes being wholly present, letting thoughts and feelings drift without grasping or judging them.

Research from The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health cited a review of 47 trials in 3,515 participants, which found that mindfulness-centric methods notably curbed cravings. (4)

Furthermore, another study pinpointed a surge in dopamine levels during meditation sessions. This insight is crucial, as addictive substances often disrupt the brain’s natural dopamine production. Typically, dopamine provides feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, but addiction can hamper this balance, making individuals dependent on substances to feel good. (5)

Meditation’s role in aiding addiction recovery has amassed significant evidence over time. Some research even suggests that meditative practices can deliver benefits akin to psychotherapy while nurturing spiritual growth.

In another comprehensive review encompassing 18 studies and 1,173 participants, the potency of seven meditation techniques was scrutinized. The findings illuminated that individuals with depressive symptoms experienced marked relief through meditation. (6)

Every journey is distinct, and every person has unique needs. That’s why…

Our Holistic Recovery Plans Are Tailored Just For You

At Centres for Health and Healing, Our experts believe in blending various therapies to pave the way for lasting and significant sobriety. We pride ourselves on the success rates of our programs and extend our support with thorough aftercare and continual assistance.

Should you have questions about addiction or any treatments, we’re here to provide the answers. We aim to equip you with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your recovery.

We get it – embarking on a recovery journey can feel overwhelming. Yet, as you delve into our treatment benefits, you’ll find growing comfort and certainty in your decision.

Remember, you’re not venturing into this path alone. We stand beside you, ready to guide you at every turn. There’s no better time to tackle addiction than the present.

Contact our treatment centre in Ontario today.


  1. Khanna S, Greeson JM. A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction. Complement Ther Med. 2013 Jun;21(3):244-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Feb 23. PMID: 23642957; PMCID: PMC3646290.
  2. Streeter CC, Whitfield TH, Owen L, Rein T, Karri SK, Yakhkind A, Perlmutter R, Prescot A, Renshaw PF, Ciraulo DA, Jensen JE. Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Nov;16(11):1145-52. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0007. Epub 2010 Aug 19. PMID: 20722471; PMCID: PMC3111147.
  3. Hallgren M, Romberg K, Bakshi AS, Andréasson S. Yoga as an adjunct treatment for alcohol dependence: a pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Jun;22(3):441-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Mar 15. PMID: 24906582.
  4. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Meditation. 
  5. Krishnakumar D, Hamblin MR, Lakshmanan S. Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. Anc Sci. 2015 Apr;2(1):13-19. doi: 10.14259/as.v2i1.171. PMID: 26929928; PMCID: PMC4769029.
  6. Jain FA, Walsh RN, Eisendrath SJ, Christensen S, Rael Cahn B. Critical analysis of the efficacy of meditation therapies for acute and subacute phase treatment of depressive disorders: a systematic review. Psychosomatics. 2015 Mar-Apr;56(2):140-52. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2014.10.007. Epub 2014 Oct 22. PMID: 25591492; PMCID: PMC4383597.
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