Many people in recovery become yoga enthusiasts. It’s no wonder because yoga has universal health benefits — to the mind, body, and spirit — and it’s incredibly supportive useful in one’s recovery.
I’ve practiced yoga on and off for about 20 years now. Each time I come back to it I wonder why I stopped doing it. It helps me focus my mind for the day ahead, stretch my achy body, and reconnect with myself.
Those types of supportive resources are crucial now more than ever.
The pandemic has impacted us in ways that we may not have expected. I have felt exhausted, my capacity to deal with stress has been greatly reduced, I find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time, I struggle to make decisions, I’m producing less work, and my anxiety is high. Many of my friends talk about bouts of depression, overeating, and generally struggling to cope with social isolation and the emotional devastation that COVID-19 has had on the world.
The benefits of yoga
Scientifically speaking, the benefits of yoga are far-reaching. Studies have shown that yoga:
- Reduces back pain and chronic pain
- Improves sleep quality and duration
- Increases flexibility
- Improves quality of life in people undergoing cancer treatment
- May help improve heart health
- Significantly reduces anxiety
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- Reduces the symptoms of PTSD
- Can help reduce symptoms of depression
- Helps to manage stress by decreasing cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
- Has an antidepressant effect on people who were in inpatient alcohol detox
Perhaps the greatest benefit of yoga, at least for me, is how it helps with mindfulness, calms my nervous system, and supports my mind and body. I practice yoga for 30 minutes every morning, and on the mornings that I forget, or get distracted, I really notice — my stress levels are higher and I struggle to get through the day. My days go incredibly well when I practice yoga at the end of the day, too.
What I also love about yoga is how accessible it is. You don’t have to be fit to practice yoga. You can do it in a chair, attend virtual yoga classes for different age groups and body shapes, and you can apply modifications to almost every pose.
Melissa told me how SHE RECOVERS yoga classes have benefited her throughout this challenging time. “Taryn’s yoga is like no other yoga I have practiced. It is trauma-informed, gentle, and geared toward women in recovery,” she says.
“This yoga allows me to move through difficult stuck emotions in my body and do so in a safe environment. Taryn’s themes and her readings are so helpful and often are just what I need on a given day. As a woman in recovery, I feel honored for the work I am doing following one of Taryn’s classes.”
Yoga for recovery
For people in recovery, the benefits of yoga are aligned with the goals of recovery: improved health and well-being, and managing the triggers and emotions that cause us to seek escape through drugs and alcohol.
It also helps us on a much deeper level, explains yoga teacher Arielle Ashford of Unity Yoga.
“For so long we were trying to escape our bodies, what they meant, how they felt, or what they looked like. Through yoga, we can become reacquainted with our bodies and begin to form a positive relationship with our bodies. We spent so much time trying to escape what we were feeling,” says Arielle.
She continues, “Yoga for people in recovery offers us a chance to re-engage with our energy centers and move through emotions in a thoughtful and curious way. Whether you’re at a studio or practicing at home, yoga offers you a way to get to know yourself better.”
Understanding that people in recovery need more support during this challenging time, Arielle has taken her classes online and offers three free classes a day (details below) for people in recovery.
Free online yoga classes
Below we’ve listed a range of free online recovery classes available to people in recovery.
From recovery-related organizations:
- Unity Recovery offers 3 online classes a week via Zoom and Facebook/Instagram Live. For more information contact by email (link) or via their website (link)
- Tommy Rosen offers a free daily 14-day practice (link), after which you may sign up for his program Recovery 2.0
- SHE RECOVERS offers a 30-day free trial (link)
- Recovery gym The Phoenix offers a range of online classes including yoga (link)
Other free yoga classes:
While these aren’t specifically recovery organizations, they are free online yoga classes available to everyone.