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Being present and feeling safe in one's body is important. Survivors of trauma, those suffering with a history of mental illness, and anyone with painful memories or experiences in their past may seek to escape their bodies as a means of survival or even daily functioning. Substance abuse, dissociation, and compulsive eating or starvation may be among ways clients find themselves escaping from being present in their bodies. The practice of gentle yoga helps connect mind, body, and spirit to bring harmony and a sense of safety to being present.
Yoga is considered a complementary practice used in tandem with other traditional substance abuse and mental health treatment methods. Yoga uses physical postures to help clients connect mind, body, and breath; gain self-awareness; and focus attention inward. Yoga can offer stress relief, increased stamina and strength, self-reflection and awareness, emotional healing, pain relief, reduction in fatigue and improved sleep, and healthier eating and personal care habits.
Many clients report pain or other symptoms which affect their addiction or daily activities. Restorative exercise addresses fundamental movements of the body and helps clients come to a healthy place in their daily practices. This can enable healing on a cellular level, which can impact general feelings of wellbeing, health, and daily functioning.
Katy Bowman, Biomechanist and director of Nutritious Movement puts it well: “I propose that movement, like food, is not optional; that ailments you may be experiencing are simply (and complexly) symptoms of movement hunger in response to a movement diet that is dangerously low in terms of quantity and poor in terms of quality—meaning you aren’t getting the full spectrum of movement nutrition necessary for a baseline human function.” Our goal is for clients to find more than baseline human function - we want to empower them to find their bodies beginning to thrive in noticeable ways.
Psychoeducation & Life Skills
Developing life patterns in a sober and recovering identity can be challenging. When substances or unhealthy coping mechanisms have been a part of someone's life, knowing how to function without those mechanisms in place can be daunting. In attending psychoeducation classes, clients will learn about, personalize, and practice skills. Exploring skills as a group and sharing experiences builds solidarity and hope for successful integration of new life patterns.
In psychoeducation sessions, clients learn communication, problem solving, and functional life skills . Classes vary in topics and are designed to help clients feel empowered and better able to function in their chosen life path and communities. “Results from more than 30 studies indicate psychoeducation improves family well-being, lowers rates of relapse and improves recovery” (Vreeland, B., An Evidence-Based Practice of Psychoeducation, 2012).
Within the last forty years, psychotherapists have recognized religion and spirituality as viable components of treatment (Bergin, 1980). We acknowledge that most clients have religious or spiritual experiences and that including those processes in treatment addresses the whole person (Berrett, Hardman & Richards, 2010; Walker, 2013). Our goal is to help clients find a spiritual path that will bring them a deeper sense of self and a sense of something larger than self.
We define spirituality as having three major components: it is consciously chosen, it involves some guiding discipline, and it accepts something greater than self as a partner in the journey. In spirituality class, clients discover elements of spirituality and self-awareness that can help them develop their own spiritual identity on their path of recovery and healing.
Yoga nidra is a systematic meditation that takes you through the pancha maya kosha (five layers of self), leaving you with a sense of wholeness. Discovering the underlying sense of self doesn’t require your identity as an addict or as a hedonist. It simply requires you to show up. For some, approaching a spiritual path may bring with it some baggage from past experiences or perceptions. Yoga nidra allows the body and brain to take a spiritual journey without a conscious processing or discussion of what "should" happen or take place.
Surrendering to the meditation can be a liberating experience for clients, especially those with a history of addiction or feeling trapped by other life patterns. Many describe yoga nidra as feeling like a guided meditation that leaves them feeling more focused, more restored, and more connected. Research suggests connection with the self fosters and enables recovery from a host of physical and emotional ailments.