Yoga Hope for Addiction

Yoga Hope for Addiction
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The sad news of rockstar Prince's death was followed by reports that prescription opioids were found at the scene. The latest news reports Prince was possibly addicted to pain medication and his autopsy found the painkiller Percocet in his system.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we're in the midst of a growing epidemic of prescription painkiller overdoses. More than 22 million American adults are struggling with addiction and substance abuse.

The following research suggests yoga is a promising complementary therapy for substance abuse and addictions.

Yoga Helps Substance Dependence

A 2015 randomized, controlled, blinded study published in the ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry reports Sadarshan Kriya yoga increased feelings of well-being and reduced anxiety in male prisoners with psychoactive substance dependence.

Researchers from the Central Jail Hospital Department of Psychiatry, New Delhi, India administered either Sudarshan Kriya yoga or breathing meditation (control) to 111 male prisoners with substance dependence, for 3 months. Participants continued to receive pharmacological therapy during the study.

The Sudarshan Kriya participants practiced yoga rhythmic breathing daily. The control group sat with eyes closed and attention to their breath.

The researchers found the Sudarshan Kriya participants had significant improvement in Global Assessment of Functioning, Psychological General Well Being, General Health, and Positive Well Being compared to the control group. Furthermore, there was a significant reduction in anxiety.

"Brown et al (2005) had earlier stated that Sadarshan Kriya and practices may work by activating vagal afferents to the nucleus tractus solitaries, the parabrachial nucleus, thalamic nuclei, the cerebral cortex and mesolimbic areas," the study authors write. "Activation of the limbic system, hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdale and stria terminalis may improve autonomic functions, neuroendocrine release, emotional processing and social bonding."

Quit Smoking with Yoga

A systematic review funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggest yoga and meditation-based therapies could help people quit smoking.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Sciences University analyzed 14 clinical trials examining the effectiveness of mind-body practices on smoking cessation. Three studies used yoga, 3 focused on breathing techniques and 8 applied meditation.

The researchers found all the studies showed positive results in smoking cessation, although there were different treatment approaches and research strategies.

"The literature supports yoga and meditation-based therapies as candidates to assist smoking cessation. However, the small number of studies available and associated methodological problems require more clinical trials with larger sample sizes and carefully monitored interventions to determine rigorously if yoga and meditation are effective treatments," the study authors conclude.

To learn more about yoga therapy, breathing and meditation, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, THE YOGA MINIBOOK SERIES RENEWAL SET: The Yoga Minibook for Longevity, The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief and The Yoga Minibook for Energy and Strength.

Elaine's the author of numerous books, articles and podcasts including "Yogi in the Kitchen", "The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss", "The Yoga Minibook for Longevity", "The Yoga Minibook for Energy and Strength", "The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief" and "Secrets of Fat-Free Greek Cooking." You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.

Watch Elaine's Yoga Therapy Videos here.

Elaine Gavalas is founder of, co-founder of and an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, and healthy recipe developer. Visit for more of Elaine's books, videos, articles, podcasts, recipes, and natural remedies.


Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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