10 Benefits of Breathing and How Yoga Combats Serious Addictions

Yoga for Addictions

Take a moment to think about what the word ‘addiction‘means to you. First, notice how your body and mind react to the word, how do you judge the word ‘addiction ‘. Realistically all of us have the tendency to be addicted to something, whether that’s routinely brewing up our morning coffee to help us kick start the day, lighting up a cigarette or finishing the day with a glass or two of chardonnay or maybe merlot, but the question is when does a so called harmless habit become an addiction?

Stereotyping leads us to believe that an addict is someone who hides in a darkened room slobbering in a corner, his health shattered and his life in ruins, or a homeless down and out nursing his cider on a park bench. All too often those who suffer from addiction issues are highly educated, warm, open hearted souls with a great need to please those around them, especially their family and friends. Unfortunately, family and friends see the harsh reality of what life as an addict has to offer. They themselves need regular guidance and support to help them through these times, not to be under estimated or forgotten: they should be encouraged to seek effective regular support and quite often even as much support as the addict themselves.

For a number of years I have worked with addiction, supporting and helping individuals empower their own lives. A number of techniques I use are based around Yogic philosophy. However, since working in the field of addiction I have gained invaluable knowledge regarding techniques that are more effective than others. Through research and with over 15 year’s experience of working and supporting addicts, it begins to become apparent what fits and what doesn’t. For me to achieve the necessary outcome it is vital that each individual knows they have the power to heal their own self. They have all the tools deep within themselves to master their own recovery. I act as a support, a reminder that they are capable, worthy and strong enough, mentally and physically to access their own inner strengths. This alone can be a wake up call or a gentle nudge, and is often strong enough to allow the healing to begin.

Healing Addictions through Breath Awareness

The majority of people believe that they know how to breathe correctly. As a Yoga Therapist I have found this not to be the case. We take the breath for granted because not only do we rely upon it to survive, but it’s also a spontaneous action of the body. So why is it so important to pay the breath close attention? A simple act such as optimising the breath can correct internal and energetic balance. Major psychological changes may occur through the increase of oxygen levels which in turn has a powerful effect on all the body’s systems.

The Benefits of Breathing and Relaxation

  1. Empowerment and self confidence: Breathing helps to open the chest which facilitates with emotional balance, mental clarity and increased coping skills.
  2. Increases Oxygen: Increased oxygen brings more energy and vitality to the body helping to reduce mental and physical fatigue which helps reduce the need for artificial stimulants.
  3. Inhalation: Opens up the body bringing with it a natural sense of confidence.
  4. Exhalation: Relaxes the body on all levels.
  5. Improves the circulation: Relieves congestion while oxygen and nutrients are increased to all cells, organs, muscles, blood and bones.
  6. The whole body and spirit relaxes: A natural way to look and feel more rested, nurtured and accepted. With this sense of calmness it allows you to become more connected to your deeper self, opening up more to kindness and being loved.

The Physical Benefits of Breathing

  1. Relaxes muscle spasms and assists in relieving and releasing tension.
  2. Helps to increase flexibility and strength the joints – when you breathe easier you move easier.
  3. Body balance and awareness are maintained as well as the ability to recover faster from stress and over exertion.
  4. When allowing ourselves to breathe correctly we give ourselves permission to relax, step back from our daily routine and then from a place of total awareness we can move forward with our lives.

Stress is steadily on the increase and mental and emotional concerns increase stress levels whether you’re an addict or not. In low doses stress is necessary for survival, but when it reaches high/chronic levels it can be damaging. Lack of sleep through addiction creates more stress and can cause poor physical and emotional health. Even if you are one of those people who are rarely sick, learning to develop the breath can help you look better, feel more rested and can assist in increased longevity.

If you’d like to learn more about Yoga, visit Indra Singh’s site at www.indrasinghyoga.com.


– Photo Credit: Mish Sukharev


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