You have probably already heard that you should exercise to support your addiction recovery, and you have maybe told yourself you’ll work on that when you get better. However, the benefits of exercise in addiction recovery are extensive, proven, and tangible, and the sooner you start building fitness into your recovery program, the better.
How Fitness Helps Recovery
Scientists have been researching the impact of exercise on addiction for years, and the take away keeps getting clearer: physical fitness can be an invaluable tool toward recovery and can help people avoid relapse and stay sober. There are several reasons for this, from simple brain chemistry to complex psycho-social and environmental factors.
The Best Types of Exercise for Addiction Recovery
The most important thing when choosing your exercise is to do something you enjoy. However, there are a few types of workout that have been shown to be particularly effective with recovering addicts. Essentially, there are two popular approaches, both of which have their benefits.
One option is to do something that is low-impact but has meditative or soothing properties: Yoga is a great example, as are cycling and hiking. Another is to go in the opposite direction, aiming for an intense workout that will get you that “high”: running, CrossFit, and HIIT are good options.
Improving Mental Health
Although classified as a mental health issue itself, substance abuse disorder is closely related to other mental illnesses, particularly anxiety and depression. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 7.9 million people have co-occurring depression and addiction disorders.
As explained above, exercise is great for your mental health, as it reduces stress. It is also proven to help with depression and anxiety, particularly when combined with more traditional medical forms of treatment. Many recovering addicts fear taking medications like antidepressants, believing they have to be “100% sober,” but if you have a mental health issue you should do everything in your power to get better, which can include getting a medical prescription.
A Healthy Routine
While exercise can get you a long way in helping you stay sober, it is only part of a healthy routine. It is a great first step, but there are other areas in your life you should also be aiming to improve, including your diet, sleep schedule, relationships with others, and how you choose to spend your free time.
The good news is that exercise has been proven to be a keystone habit, meaning people who successfully build an exercise habit are more likely to follow suit in other areas of their lives. Focus on integrating your workout routine into your schedule, and you may see that the rest comes naturally. If it doesn’t, choose one new habit at a time, giving yourself a few weeks or even months to adjust. This allows you to build a stable routine that will stick to, instead of overwhelming yourself with too many resolutions at once.
Whether it’s working on your flexibility and balance on a yoga mat or sweating out the stress with a run, throwing yourself into a regular exercise routine is one of the best things you can do in your journey toward recovery. Take some time to find what works for you and incorporate it into your schedule, while taking time to address any mental health issues, and you will soon find yourself on a path to a healthy, full life free from addiction.
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1) Tahoe is a Year-Round Playground
We have what are called "Multi-Sport Days" in Lake Tahoe. Any day of the year can include skiing, hiking, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. In any month of the year you can go out for a relaxing boat ride or tour the basin via car. Between the Tahoe Basin and the valleys below there are so many options for activities that you will need to stay for more than a weekend to truly understand why we love Tahoe.
When planning any retreat, it is important to have options. In Tahoe, they are built in. We have activities for people of all ages, sizes and ability levels. Every day of your retreat can include a new adventure that you can guide yourself, or hire a resident to arrange something just for your group.
2) This is the Air the Angels Breathe
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "To breathe the same air as the angels, you must go to Tahoe." Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to breathe freely. The fresh mountain air, blue bird skies and incredible views will refresh and renew you from the outside-in. Residents of the basin will often brag of feeling like "super heroes" when at lower elevation. The thin air results in a need to breathe more deeply, move with consciousness, and consider what your body needs. Every breath you take while on your Yoga Retreat will remind you of the value of breathing.
The ancient Yogis would head to the Himalaya to practice. In Tahoe you can discover why they chose the mountains as a place to practice mindfulness, breath and movement.
3) The Views
In the studio, on the beach or paddle board, atop a mountain, on a boat, a roof deck or on the lawn; no matter where you choose to practice, the view is sure to be amazing. Studios like Lake Tahoe Yoga offer the unique option of a custom-built practice at the location of your choosing. The intention is to set the stage for a Yoga Adventure. Yoga is the practice of union and one of the best ways to connect with yourself, others and the world around you is to engage. Learn to practice with the sand between your toes, a board shifting on the water, the wind blowing and birds singing. At Lake Tahoe all this an more will enhance your practice.
Seek out an instructor who is familiar with the area and has local connections. Tahoe is a magical place with many unique and hidden opportunities. Trying to discover the best view or place in which to practice takes time. Rely on those who know.
4) We Know How to Have Fun
Lake Tahoe is located on the border of California and Nevada. California is known for having a laid back lifestyle and easy going attitude. Nevada has a reputation for nights that never end. Lake Tahoe combines the best of both worlds. Rent a boat and relax on the water or spend some time in the sun on the sand. Tour the Thunderbird Lodge, go down to Vikingsholm, climb up Fannettte Island or dive off of the rocks near D.L. Bliss or walk the grounds of the Pope Estate. In the evenings, plan for food and drinks, dancing and more. There are places to find mocktails, vegetarian and vegan options as well as locally sourced foods. Whichever type of fun you are into, Tahoe can accommodate.
Yelp can help, but a resident will be your best source for places to try. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority can direct you to Tahoe's Best spots for fun, relaxation, food and more.
5) Tahoe is still a Hidden Gem
Visitors typically come to Tahoe for two reasons: Winter and Summer. What most people don't know is that Tahoe has more to offer. The warmth of Spring brings with it fields of wildflowers and soft mountain biking trails as well as the rush of waterfalls . The Fall season is crisp and cool. It is the perfect time for a beach cookout or early morning paddle.
Tahoe is beautiful during every season, but only peaceful during a few months out of the year. When planning your yoga retreat consider visiting when it's less busy and you'll find that peace is easy to find.
Jenay specializes in creating unique practices that honor your requests and always includes some extra TLC. Contact Lake Tahoe Yoga to join a scheduled practice or, have one customized for your group.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to find yourself in a nonstop routine that cultivates tension and anxiety. Awareness of not only your surroundings but also your inner emotional state is fundamental to yoke the energy of concentration. The practice of incorporating mindful practices as well as physical effort can help you establish a happier and healthier life.
Your yoga practice doesn’t have to stop when you leave the mat. Whether it’s running out of the house to pick up the kids from sports, making dinner for a family of 8, or even coping with a lost loved one, check out these mindfulness exercises to harness your ability to deal with life’s challenges.
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Maintain awareness of your breath and focus your attention on moving the breath in and out. This exercise can be done at any time of the day and in any position anywhere. The results can be tremendous.
Now that you’ve focused on your breath, follow your breath beginning to end. Sustain your awareness and let fleeting thoughts pass.
Awareness of Your Body
Tension in the body can be released by the mind. Awareness of the body can help bring oneness to the body and mind. The more peace and harmony in your breathing, the more it will reflect in your body.
Self-reflection is essential to appreciating the wonders of life and letting go of the things that hold us back. Mindful walking is a simple technique that can enable you to find your purpose, increase your well-being, and give you the clarity to navigate yourself through the world.
A warrior never rushes. Combat the addiction to rush and stay present. Slowing down can sometimes be the best way to speed up. Whether it’s moving slower, taking time to think about the things you speak, find perspective on balance by calming the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
The combination of mindfulness and physical activity is the crux of combating negative thinking and emotional distress. Although this practice requires discipline and self-control, mindfulness can transform your ability to concentrate and make a breakthrough.
The focal point of mindfulness practices is meditation. The combination of physical and mental practices can train the body to stay calm and be observant. This concentration allows one to
wake dormant energy toward awakening.
Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes for InsiderEnvy with an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.
Lake Tahoe Yoga began as an idea. For years I would joke about various locations being "a great place for a studio." I never thought I would actually become a studio owner. It wasn't until I was approached by some locals who were curious about my skills beyond counseling that I considered starting my own business. I began with just a few classes, some private sessions, and free classes. Once I began actively teaching, I realized how much I had to learn about business, people and community.
Giving too Much Away
I am enthusiastic about instructing, guiding, and helping others to discover their paths. The teacher in me is always proud to see my students demonstrate their understanding, develop new skills and grow as individuals. While instructing others, I am always learning. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized the very people that I had been supporting, guiding, and instructing were planning on attempting to become my competition. Upon leaving Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio they took more than the knowledge I had shared; they took practitioners, ideas and more.
It is incredible to look back to 2008 and review how rapidly technology, advertising, marketing and business has changed. During this time there have been positive and negative shifts in every field. I have had to change everything about the way I market my business. What will never change is the roots of Lake Tahoe Yoga.
Many of the studios, gyms, etc. in town may be listed on Mindbody or some other app. They may have pretty photos with people posing on their instagram. Maybe they are offering classes at breweries, art studios, wineries, with goats and cats and dogs. They are viciously competing with one another. Lake Tahoe Yoga continues to remain focused on our roots: the practice, the knowledge and sharing it with others.
Putting our Money where it Matters
Lake Tahoe Yoga wouldn't exist if it wasn't for our community. It was the locals that encouraged me to begin instructing and who continue to support the studio. I didn't practice at any other studio in Tahoe. I didn't train with a studio here. I didn't learn how to run a business by working for another studio. Everything at Lake Tahoe Yoga grew through active learning, community engagement & support, and the dedication I have to the practice, studio, and practitioners.
Our social media photos are of Tahoe and people just like you and me doing their best to access more than a pose. They are trying to access Yoga. They are living in this world, working beside you. They are breathing, moving and observing themselves and the world around them hoping to bring forth positive change.
Every penny spent to advertise Lake Tahoe Yoga is purposeful and focused. From local memberships for TRYP, SLTWHS and Tahoe Chamber to social media the advertising is calculated to be the best way for us to reach the community and to give back.
Supporting Small, Local Yoga Studios & Businesses
Over the past 10 years I have learned much about Tahoe South, business, and people. I have grown as an instructor, business owner and individual. I have deepened my understanding of Yoga and what it means to truly practice. I know I am not perfect. I remind my students that not everyone lives life with an open mind and that most people are in service only to themselves. Taking this lesson to heart, I have chosen not to advertise on the popular apps so that I can donate a portion of Lake Tahoe Yoga's profits to local and international non-profits.
When traveling, I seek out the small, locally owned studios that are not listed on Mindbody and do not have fancy advertisements or websites. I have discovered wonderful studios, new instructors, friendships, connections and more. I have expanded this practice beyond Yoga studios and have begun seeking out small businesses, as well. It has opened many new doors.
Go Small, Support Locals
There is no guarantee that the studio you find listed on Mindbody is the best, nor is there a guarantee that the teacher instructing in the basement of her house is any good. You will never know if you don't try it out. How about giving that new teacher in the basement a try before heading to the studio paying to be noticed? Step into that funky little shop on the corner instead of going to the one with thousands of reviews. Ask a friend for a recommendation, ask a local where they go, step off of the beaten path and try something new. For it is only when we try that we know.
When the thermometer reads single digits, and the window shows nothing but wind and snow, the idea of working out can send chills down your spine, literally. The cold has a way of deterring us from fitness goals and leading us to the couch, fireplace and hot chocolate.
There are plenty of indoor and fun options for staying fit and focused in the winter.
Make a plan
As with any time of the year, an important part of maintaining a healthy routine is by planning to commit to a daily dose of exercise.
Try yoga asana as an exercise at home
Changing up the routine can help you make your workouts a little more exciting and give you new feats to discover. According to Healthline, yoga asana is the easiest way to stay fit in winter. You can be any fitness level to start and it can be done at home. Try a new yoga asana class this winter or commit to a fitness plan that can be done at home, with friends, or at the gym.
Yoga asana can be done almost anywhere, especially indoors, which means you can stay out of the cold while you work out. There are plenty of free online classes and tutorials that can teach you the basics and get you started.
The Yoga Journal maintains that yoga asana can keep you healthy this winter. By implementing certain poses you can increase circulation and help your body clear out bacteria and viruses by filtering them out through the lymph nodes. A regular yoga routine can also help you stay warm and prevent aches and stiffness.
Build your home gym
Taking some time and a little investment in a simple home gym can really pay off in terms of motivation. All you need is your body and a few basic tools to help. Having a specifically designated space in your home for your workouts will set you up for success. With just a few basic tools and equipment, you can ensure a full-body and effective workout, even as the snow falls outside.
Don’t let your body down this winter. Keep it active with a creative approach to in-home training. Remember to make a plan and a commitment to yourself and your goals. Implementing exercise as a regular part of your day can bring years of well-being and health.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Yoga + Focused Concentration = Less Stress
Stress from work, school, and family can build throughout the day until, when it’s finally time to get some much needed rest, you have trouble closing your eyes. You need a full night’s sleep, that’s a solid seven to eight hours every night, to rejuvenate, energize, and refresh the body for a new day. Yoga and focused concentration both offer ways to help clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and prepare your mind and body for better sleep.
Yoga, especially those forms that use directed breathing, reduce the inflammation brought on by stress. Focusing your mind and body before bed has measurable benefits by reducing the activity of proteins that cause stress-related inflammation. Yoga Asana also helps relieve tension and tightness in muscles.
Focused concentration that centers on mindfulness is another way to help center your mind, putting stressful events and thoughts in the background for better sleep. Mindfulness concentration encourages practitioners to focus on the moment so that thoughts and emotions center in the present rather than dwelling on the past or speculating about the future. This type of concentration helps relieve symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and conditions like high blood pressure.
Yoga for Better Sleep
Yogic and concentration techniques can be performed before getting into bed or after you’ve laid down. When doing poses in bed, your mattress type may prevent you from getting a stretch with the same intensity you are used to on the floor, but that doesn’t reduce the relaxing benefits.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with the feet hip-width apart, folding from your hips toward the ground. Reach your arms to the ground. You can grab your elbows with your hands and let your arms gently dangle for a better stretch. Slightly bend your knees to relieve any strain. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm.
Seated Spinal Twist
Start by sitting on a mat or your bed with both legs out straight in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing your left foot over your right leg. Gently hold your left leg with your right hand, and twist your torso so you’re looking over your left shoulder. You can keep your right leg straight or bend it toward your left hip. Take up to eight deep breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.
On your knees, sit with your knees wider than your hips and bring your big toes together. Lengthen your torso between your legs. Extend your arms out in front or rest them beside your legs. Let your forehead drop toward the ground or your bed. Take up to eight long, deep breaths before releasing.
Focused Concentration works well once you’re lying in bed. Start by focusing on your breath. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm and listen to the sound of the air entering and leaving your lungs. Focus your mind on the calming sound of your breath. If it helps, focus on a calming word with each inhale and exhale. As you continue breathing, keep your mind focused by pulling it back to your breathing when it begins to wander. Continue until you feel calm, quiet, and relaxed. You may even drift off to sleep.
Special thanks to TUCK for their contribution of this blog and active work in the study of Mindfullness, Sleep and accessing Dhyana (Meditation).
Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
Weight Loss is about more than Diet
When most people think of yoga, they think of it for the stretching, the centeredness, the Zen. Most people don’t think about yoga as a way to lose weight—but maybe they should start to reconsider this ancient practice. There are physical, behavioral, and emotional benefits to this holistically-based process.
Of course, it starts with the type of yoga you practice. Some practices focus upon relaxation rather than activity—but some practices combine physical fitness with mindfulness . For example, Vinyasa is dynamic and also focuses upon breath and movement. Some yoga classes add heat into the mix, which helps to boost the physical challenge.
There’s a benefit from yoga that translates outside the yoga studio that may have health effects related to managing your weight. Yoga, of course, encourages mindfulness, and mindfulness is necessary when it comes to eating and eating well. What else do you need to know? This graphic explains it.
About Yoga & Weight Loss
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Although most of Sanskrit can seem like tongue twisters and silliness, as you learn what each word means and how it can be used, things become more interesting.
The Importance of Practice
Throughout my practice as a Yogini and then during my Yoga teacher training, my guru would talk about the balance between practice & effort (Abhyasa) and non-attachment and letting go (Vairagya). Being that my primary interest in Yoga was rooted in the physical benefits, I really didn't care if I was "letting go" of anything, I was more interested in that fancy headstand and holding Caturanga.
Be Willing to Let Go
As my practice deepened, and as I began teaching, I started to learn that if I didn't let go, then I got nothing. What I mean to say is, the more I held on to the practice and the more my focus was on having large classes and making lots of money, the fewer students I had and the more frustrated I grew.
When I opened Svadhyaya Yoga Studio, I had so many other things on my plate that all I could do when it came time to teach was allow my passion to flow outward to my students. I would have classes of 0, 1 or maybe 2 students. I got to know them well and their dedication to the practice was a reflection of mine.
Practice to Grow
Now, almost two years down the road, I continue to be driven by the practice and I try my best to let go of the results. It's very difficult, and it's sometimes a challenge to walk the line between what I want and what I need.
Abhyasa and Vairagya are so important because we have to constantly be practicing in order to grow. We have to always be letting go of the old growth so that we can become new. Just as the snake must shed it's skin, so must we be able to let go of the past and move foward.
Do the Rewards Equal Your Efforts?
Everything you do has an equal return. Every thought you have, every word you speak and every action you take will result in a reaction. You have control only over that which you think, say or do. You cannot control anyone else or the results of what they do. Yoga teaches us to practice observing our thoughts, words and actions and becoming aware of the intention behind each. If the intention is to make yourself look good, hurt someone else or to improve your life alone, then Karma results. I like to imagine Karma as a small seed. One is not a big deal, but a bag, bushel or box of seeds can get very heavy. The more Karma seeds you create, the heavier they get.
Throughout your life you have stitched together various activities, people, and experiences that all have something in common. Reflect upon the work you have chosen to do, the places you have spent time, the topics that you have studied and the people to whom you have become close. Can you identify the common thread?
That to which we are drawn is most often our Dharma; our life's duty. Once you begin observing and reflecting you may be able to see the common thread throughout your life. You may even notice that it is something for which you feel passionate. In addition, it is something that effects more than just you. Typically, it is something that you are able to do that makes life better for others.
Can you identify your Dharma?
Before, throughout, or to close any Yoga class, your teacher will offer some guidance in discovering your Dharma. Knowing what to look for is the first step toward identifying your life's work. The Dharmic Topic of the day will give you something upon which to focus as you move through asana. A good instructor will weave this theme throughout the class. While you move, he or she will guide you in considering the theme. While practicing, you may make connections to how you are feeling physically, energetically, or emotionally.
Consider the Dharmic Focus of Divinity.
Your teacher may suggest that you consider the idea of recognizing divinity in all things, including other people, even those with whom you do not get along. While you move through asana, rather than getting lost in mindless chatter, perhaps you will begin to think about those who have wronged you; people with whom you are frustrated or angry. Perhaps you will begin to see that their divinity is blocked by their actions. Next, you may begin to reflect on how your behaviors may make it difficult for others to see the divinity within you. As you continue to practice, observe and reflect, you may begin to bettter understand yourself and, thus, see your Dharma.
Remaining on the Path of Dharma
Upon identifying your Dharma, the next step is to continue to do your life's work without over-doing it. Yoga is a practice of balance; we must always be seeking Sattva (harmony). Just because you finally know what to does not mean it is time to become forceful. Your eyes have been opened and you know what to look for. Opportunities to practice Dharma will present themselves as appropriate.
While you practice observing and reflecting, it helps to have some guidance. Gathering useful knowledge about Dharma can help. We recommend attending practices that include a Dharmic Focus. On your own, you can read books that provide such focus. One of our favorites is Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates.
You may also choose to book a Private Session during which we can focus on exploring the common thread within your life. Contact us to begin the process.