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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Say "Om" to Addiction

Yoga combines physical and mental discipline to achieve peace of mind and strength of body. Various branches of yoga utilize different physical postures or asanas; however, each branch has several elements in common. The most important is the emphasis on the connection between the power of the mind and the body. Evidence suggests that when practiced consistently, yoga can tone and strengthen muscles, ease stress, and even help fight addictions.
Smoking is one such addiction that seems to respond to yoga. Kundalini yoga, in particular, is thought to benefit smokers in their battle to quit. Kundalini is one of the more vigorous forms of yoga. Strenuous and repetitive movements stretch people's limits. Particular attention to heavy breathing draws participants' focus to the lungs and their current health state.
The mind-body-spirit approach that yoga uses is becoming increasingly popular in addiction-recovery programs. Part of the addiction of smoking is associated with the mental comfort a cigarette provides. People who are addicted to a substance either have or develop anxiety. Smoking is used to alleviate that anxiety.
Yoga may help conquer other addictions such as shopping, gambling and drinking. It also recognizes that the addiction may be a symptom of another, larger emotional problem. For example, alcoholism may develop as a mechanism for dealing with depression, and some people smoke to deal with insecurity. By first realizing the larger spiritual or emotional problem, the addict can better use the serene poses and quiet thoughtfulness of yoga to explore the mind and focus energy on quitting. Consistent meetings or classes that addicts can attend for yoga also can help make them accountable for their path of healing, as well as providing a supportive community.

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