In essence, yoga, in addition to being a physical practice, is a concise and simple philosophy that is in alignment with 12-step recovery and that encompasses a very moral way of thinking.
Two things about the physical aspects of yoga practice have particular merit. Good physical conditioning is one of the two. The other is the mental and psychological benefit that results from the commitment to show up and participate in the practice regularly (preferably daily).
Through yoga we can learn to breathe properly and achieve deep relaxation. That relaxation will provide relief from pain in general and anxiety in particular.
I’m very much in favor of any practice that teaches proper breathing and relaxation. Yoga, tai chi, and many martial arts systems focus on both. When such practices are mindful, they help participants focus on breathing in such a way that they both give them distraction from negativity and help them fill their bodies up with oxygen properly.
Breathing well is incredibly important because oxygen is one of the most essential nutrients for the brain. If the brain is not receiving enough oxygen, it goes into a survival-like mode. When that is the case, a person’s emotions wreak havoc on them, causing “flight, fight, or freeze” responsiveness or fear, defensiveness, anger, and/or a degree of depression.
The importance of proper breathing that can be achieved through yoga cannot be over-emphasized. Breathing well gives us expanded intelligence and helps us maintain good emotional health, two things that are absolutely necessary for us as we pursue recovery from addiction.