The human ego is incredibly complex, and when it comes to addiction, it can be a major obstacle by preventing a person struggling with addiction from acknowledging his or her need for help. However, it can also be an incredibly beneficial aspect of recovery. Most people who struggle with addiction experience “ego depletion,” or the deterioration of their sense of self-worth due to past mistakes, inappropriate actions taken in pursuit of drugs, and the effects of their habits on those they love. One surprising method for rebuilding the ego during rehab is yoga, a practice that offers several physical and psychological health benefits.
The Purpose Of Yoga
The traditional purpose of yoga is for one to learn how to control and enhance the body to achieve balance in the mind and with the world. Yoga is incredibly beneficial to physical health, as it promotes flexibility and encourages proper breathing. However, it also holds tremendous psychological value, especially to those recovering from substance abuse. Countless substance abuse treatment centers have incorporated yoga into their therapy regimen for these benefits, and one of the most often-overlooked perks of practicing yoga is the potential for rebuilding one’s sense of self.
Yoga And The Ego
Most people who have at least passing knowledge of yoga may wonder why or how yoga could strengthen the ego. After all, the purpose of yoga is to enhance one’s love of the world by removing selfish thoughts. However, yoga also helps cultivate a stronger sense of internal understanding that many people who struggle with addiction lack or lose in the throes of their bad habits. The ego can be detrimental in some aspects, but ultimately it can be an important driving force in encouraging a person to acknowledge his or her value and place in the world.
What Is Ego Depletion?
Addiction is an incredibly isolating experience. Those who struggle with substance abuse problems often come to realize the damage they have done to others and themselves, creating a downward spiral about negative feelings largely directed at the self. This degrades the ego over time, resulting in poor self-esteem, a minimal sense of personal value, and an inability to see one’s worth in the world. This is ego depletion, and someone who experiences this for too long may become despondent and convinced that he or she will never recover. Worse, the individual may assume that he or she doesn’t deserve to recover and is just another lost cause.
Rediscovering self-worth is an essential part of the recovery experience. Those who struggle with substance abuse and commit to making a change, may not fully realize that making that change rests entirely on their shoulders; others may provide guidance, but it is ultimately up to them to do the work and build a healthier, sober lifestyle. Yoga can help an individual in this position experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with overcoming obstacles, meeting new challenges, and pushing oneself beyond the limits of what he or she thought possible.
Finding Internal Balance
During the course of an addiction, the individual becomes physically dependent on his or her drug of choice, but the connection between him or her and the drug is ultimately psychological. The physical effects of addiction and chemical dependency are relatively easy to overcome compared to the psychological damage addiction can inflict and the extreme hold it can have over human behavior.
Yoga challenges those who practice it, to push themselves beyond their assumed capabilities. It may not be the most strenuous form of exercise, but the methodology behind it demands discipline and self-awareness; two traits most people with substance abuse disorders lose throughout the course of their addictions.
Forming Better, Healthier Habits With Yoga
Most people who enter substance abuse treatment undergo various medical examinations, take part in different styles of counseling, and experience various holistic therapies aimed at helping them address their addictions honestly and manage cravings. They also learn how to manage the personal consequences of addiction, such as damaged relationships with friends and family members, financial issues and even legal issues from criminal acts and child custody issues. Everyone has a unique recovery experience, and everyone has the potential to learn something valuable from yoga.
Many people may assume that yoga strives to diminish the ego in an effort to better understand one’s place in the world, free from the egotistical trappings of arrogance and self-absorption. However, for people who experience substance abuse and often find their sense of self-worth diminished to the point that it may seem like a return is impossible, yoga can help them find the confidence and strength to carry on and build a new life in sobriety.