Healing Drug and Alcohol Addiction Using Yoga
Picture this: A dimly-lit room with cozy blankets spread throughout. A defuser slowly spreads a light peppermint scent. It’s a calming room where people come to relax, focus on their breathing, and open the mind.
This is the yoga room at Recovery Centers of America at Devon.
“I start every class by reading the group to see how each person is feeling,” says yoga instructor Amanda Hershey. “We’re getting into the mind, starting with the breath. We aren’t leaving enough space for the brain to focus on chaos.”
Yoga is an integral part of the focus on wellness at RCA Devon. It’s all about finding different ways to replace unhealthy behaviors or habits with exercise, yoga, breathing, and meditation. Amanda’s yoga for substance abuse class teaches patients how to breathe deeply and slowly, telling the nervous system to relax, even during moments of high stress. She adds in meditation to remind people to be in the moment, allowing patients to dive deeper into feelings and thoughts, understand what’s blocking them, and improve their inner peace. Meditation helps quiet the mind, giving patients the opportunity to focus on a specific thought or idea – such as recovery. As it teaches patients to slow their breathing down, it calms their nerves and reduces negative feelings that would otherwise have them reaching for substances. Hershey holds two 45-minute meditation classes twice a week at RCA Devon.
“I want everyone to keep an open mind. This is the time to explore the mind-body connection. We want to burn off anxious energy, lift ourselves out of a depressed state, and find a balance that levels the playing field to empower recovery through yoga.”
While yoga is done in a group setting, Hershey also offers individual sessions. The patient decides what happens during this time, such as focusing on specific poses or learning more about breathing techniques.
“I create an open space where patients feel comfortable talking to me, whether it’s about yoga or something they’re struggling with. We have real conversations here.”
When incorporated into yoga, meditation can help quiet the mind while concentrating on a certain thought or idea – such as recovery. It also teaches patients to slow their breathing down and calm their nerves, reducing negative feelings that would otherwise have them reaching for substances. Hershey holds two 45-minute meditation classes twice a week at RCA Devon.
“It’s their time, they can do what they want with it. If they want to meditate in silence, we do that. If they want to talk, we’ll do that, too,” Hershey says. “I use guided imagery a lot to help patients experience letting go. I have them envision themselves standing on the edge of a cliff with a bag. Then I tell them to picture putting everything that’s weighing them down in that bag. It could be their addiction, a trauma, anything – put it in the bag. Then throw that bag over the cliff and watch it disappear.”
Support doesn’t end once a patient has left the facility. Rather, Hershey works with the patient to determine what works best for them – yoga, meditation, or Reiki. She’ll research local studios in the patient’s area, so when they leave treatment, they have a physical list of classes in their area.
“We do an aftercare plan based on where a patient is headed after treatment,” Hershey said. “Every member of the staff helps patients plan and see the future.”
Recovery Centers of America at Devon
Learn more about how Recovery Centers of America at Devon treats patients and their families struggling with addiction. Our evidence-based addiction treatment helps patients remain committed to getting on the road to recovery. With our team of masters level clinicians, primary therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and nurses, RCA at Devon has everything you or your loved one needs to get well again.