Yoga

Recovery is possible

Yoga at CHRC

For those who’ve never tried it, the word “yoga” brings many images and stereotypes to mind, some of which make newcomers to the practice reluctant to give it a try. In its broadest sense, yoga is a way of life, a philosophy and practice for living that includes 8 facets, or “limbs.” The physical practice of yoga involves moving and stretching in synchrony with the breath. This is only one of those 8 limbs and is what most North Americans practice.

There are many styles of yoga, ranging in intensity from extremely relaxing (Restorative, Yin) through light-to-moderate intensity (Gentle Hatha, Hatha) to fast-moving and energetic (Flow/Vinyasa). Each style provides benefits to the mind and body. In addition to the obvious — improving balance, flexibility, and coordination — yoga can reduce stress, improve mental health, support substance abuse recovery, help manage weight and diabetes, ease pain, and help with a range of other physical and mental challenges. The Yoga Alliance maintains an online library of scientific research on yoga if you’re interested in learning more.

A typical yoga class is about an hour long but can be 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the style. The practice is done on a 2-foot by 6-foot mat and often incorporates blocks to support the body and straps to extend reach.

If you’re new to yoga, let the teacher know. A good teacher will listen to your concerns and help guide you through a safe and enjoyable practice.

Regular yoga practice offers many health benefits, but it can offer a lot more than that. Yoga can also support the journey to recovery. Here’s how:

Mindfulness
Life’s stressful. We spend so much time being busy that we lose ourselves in the frenzy. Mindfulness is simply being fully present, using all our senses, with what we’re doing. Although this is possible with any activity, yoga offers a perfect way to explore sensations as we move in a deliberate way.

Developing healthy patterns
With time, regular yoga practice becomes something we look forward to. We come to recognize how good practice makes us feel, and we begin to choose it over less-healthy options when we need a pick-me-up.

Sociality
Practicing yoga with a friend or loved one is a great way to spend time together. Having someone to keep us accountable inspires practicing when we may not want to.

Accepting our limitations
We work hard to be “perfect.” But perfection is unachievable. With regular practice, we learn what our bodies can and can’t do, and as we build our balance, flexibility, and strength, we also grow to respect the limitations of our bodies.

Befriending discomfort
We all avoid uncomfortable situations and seek pleasant ones. Life’s full of challenges, and learning to face them, instead of running away from them, is a valuable skill. Many yoga poses are uncomfortable. Exploring that discomfort in a safe way allows us to discover that we can handle it. We may never grow to like discomfort, but we can become familiar with it and respond intentionally to it, instead of reacting impulsively to escape it.

If you find that you do not have time for yoga – do more yoga.

– Ashley Miller, Certified Nutritional Practitioner

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