Why Exercise, Meditation & Yoga Enhances Recovery from Addiction

Active recovery from addiction requires a lot of retraining with new habits, routines and regimes to break with old negative habits.

There’s a variety of reasons for this.

  1. Having a structured day helps those in recovery feel organised and productive and this, in turn, creates a sense of purpose. In doing this it encourages goal setting and a feeling of achievement. Having a purpose is psychologically positive and start the building blocks of an addiction-free existence. 
  2. Physical activities such as general exercise, yoga and breathing exercises release natural endorphins which create a feeling of wellbeing. This is positive, progressive and starts the process of physical recovery.

While baby steps may be needed in the beginning, their efforts may lead to feeling stronger, a better appetite, more regular sleeping patterns and most importantly a sense of hope that they can control and contribute to their health.

In addition physical exercise is a natural antidote to depression.

  1. Recovery from addiction is physical, mental, emotional and psychological. That’s a lot! So it makes sense to get as much help as possible.

New, exciting and healthy learned behaviours is what recovery is all about!

Experience has taught us that exercise, meditation and yoga can significantly enhance recovery.

Let’s take a look at what’s involved in each:

Meditation for Recovery

“So what is a good meditator? The one who meditates” – Allan Lokos.

One conscious breath in and out is a meditation.

When we get too caught up in the business of the world, we lose connection with one another and ourselves.

Meditation corrects this and reconnects us to ourselves again. Although there are many types of meditation a “Guided Meditation as a good way to start.

With a guided meditation someone else instructs you to help you regulate your breathing, focus on one single thing and to keep time during the session.

There are multiple research studies supporting the fact that just 10 minutes of meditation a day can have some profound effects on practitioners.

Meditation can help you detach from thoughts and impulses that increase cravings for other substances. Meditation shows that those desires are just thoughts and that you don’t have to act upon those thoughts.

Meditation refocuses your attention to the breath, and breathing, and allows other thoughts to pass rather than dominate your thinking.

If you are one of those people who finds it very difficult to sit still, even for 5 minutes, then it’s better to start your meditation practice with movement, such as a walking meditation or with yoga.

How Yoga enhances recovery from addiction

yoga and camino recovery spain

The word Yoga means to unite and strengthens the connection between mind, body and soul.

As active addiction tends to numb thoughts, emotions and awareness, yoga is the essential counteraction to reactive your central nervous system.

It’s important to understand that to receive the benefits of yoga you don’t need to be very flexible. Consistency is the key and even a little helps. Yoga increases core strength and improves flexibility over time. As a physical and spiritual practice, it brings a sense of balance into our daily lives.

Like meditation, yoga reduces stress, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and feelings of depression and anxiety. Essentially, both meditation and yoga reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has strong negative effects on the body.

Mindfulness is a popular meditation technique that is used in combination with yoga to enhance self-awareness. Through breathing and concentration, we focus on our thoughts, emotions and sensations. Research shows that a combination of yoga and mindfulness enhances a sense of stability, satisfaction, general energy levels and overall positivity.


Schure, Marc B., Christopher, John, Christopher, Suzanne. Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counselling students through yoga, meditation, and Qigong. Journal of Counseling & Development. Vol 86(1), Win 2008, pp. 47-56

Holthaus, Stephanie M. A phenomenological study: Yoga during recovery from drugs or alcohol. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering Vol 65 (8-B), 2005, pg.4289

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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