Yoga and the Addiction Recovery

By Sharma, Manoj | Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, April 2013 | Go to article overview

Yoga and the Addiction Recovery


Sharma, Manoj, Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education


Hawk, K. (2012). Yoga and the twelve-step path. Las Vegas, NV: Central Recovery Press.

[ISBN 978-1-936290-80-4; trade paper; 258 pages; $15.95]

Complementary and alternative systems of medicine have been used with some success in the treatment and recovery of addiction. This book focuses on one such approach that of yoga. Yoga is an ancient system of establishing equilibrium between mind, body and spirit and is used in maintaining health, promoting wellness and treating a variety of ailments. Application of yoga in treating addiction and aiding recovery is the theme of this book.

The book is organized into 12 chapters and four appendices. The first chapter starts with the story of the author who was herself an addict and recovered through the use of yoga. The account of the author is quite well written and develops a sense of empathy in the reader. The chapter ends with an exercise on Dirga Pranayma.

The second chapter is called, "What is yoga?" This chapter provides an introduction to yoga and describes the emphasis on a triadic focus on body, mind, and spirit. The chapter describes mantra yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, and raja yoga. Usually mantra yoga is considered a part of raja yoga and only four major types of yoga are described which is different in this book. The chapter ends with an exercise routine in hatha yoga.

The third chapter is called, "What is addiction?" This chapter provides an introduction to addiction and answers the questions what is addiction and why do we become addicted. It argues that addiction stems from a "spiritual malady" and the modern medical model is deficient in treating addiction. The author introduces the Ayurvedic model and yogic model. The chapter concludes with an exercise incorporating yogic asanas.

The fourth chapter is about combining yoga and the Twelve Steps of recovery. The author shares her own experience in this endeavor. She also describes how to blend yoga with recovery and how yoga facilitates the process of self-discovery. The chapter concludes with an exercise about breathing.

The fifth chapter describes the yamas or the restraints advocated by yoga. There are five yamas, namely: not harming anyone or ahimsa, not lying or satya, not stealing or asteya, not indulging in excess or brahmacharya, and being nonattached or aprigraha. This chapter could be more useful if it included some examples as to how to develop these virtues and what role they play in recovery. The chapter ends with several self-reflection exercises.

The sixth chapter describes the niyamas or the observances advocated by yoga. There are five nivamas, namely, purity or shaucha, contentment or santhosha, discipline or tapas, self-study or swadhyaya, and surrender to Almighty or ishwar pranidhana. The chapter provides self reflection exercises for each of the observances and concludes with an exercise on alternate nostril breathing called nadi shodhana.

The seventh chapter describes hatha yoga.

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