What is a Yoga View on Addiction?

In the Yoga tradition, addiction is seen as a result of imbalance and a disconnection from one’s true self. Yoga offers a holistic approach that addresses addiction on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.

Suffering and Ignorance

Yoga recognises that addiction arises from a state of suffering and ignorance. It understands that individuals may turn to addictive substances or behaviours as a way to escape or alleviate their underlying pain, dissatisfaction, or lack of fulfilment.

Mind-Body Connection

Yoga emphasises the deep connection between the mind and body. It recognises that addictive behaviours can be a means to numb emotional pain or seek temporary pleasure. Through practices like yoga postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation, individuals can develop awareness of their physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. This increased awareness can help them recognise and address the root causes of their addiction.

Self-Exploration and Inner Transformation

Yoga encourages self-reflection and self-inquiry. By cultivating mindfulness and self-awareness, individuals can explore the underlying patterns, beliefs, and emotions that contribute to their addictive behaviours. Through this process, they can gain insight into themselves, uncover unresolved issues, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Union and Connection

Yoga aims to foster a sense of union and connection. It recognises that addiction often leads to isolation and detachment from oneself and others. Through yoga practice, individuals can cultivate a sense of connection with their bodies, minds, and hearts. They can also develop a greater sense of connection with others and the world around them, reducing the need for external substances or behaviours to fill a sense of emptiness.

Lifestyle and Ethics

Yoga encourages a balanced and disciplined lifestyle. This includes adopting ethical principles known as the Yamas and Niyamas, which guide individuals in their relationships with themselves and others. By cultivating virtues like self-discipline, contentment, and self-study, individuals can create a supportive foundation for recovery from addiction.

It’s important to note that while yoga can be a valuable tool in addiction recovery, it is not a substitute for professional medical or therapeutic treatment. It can complement and enhance other forms of support and treatment in a comprehensive recovery plan.


12 Step Yoga is an approach that combines the principles and practices of the 12-Step program with yoga philosophy and techniques to support addiction recovery. It integrates the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps with the mind-body practices of yoga. Here’s how it works:

Integration of 12-Step Principles

12 Step Yoga incorporates the principles of the 12-Step program, such as surrender, acceptance, honesty, self-reflection, and service. These principles provide a framework for individuals to examine their addictive behaviours, take responsibility, and make positive changes in their lives.

Yoga Asanas (Postures)

The physical practice of yoga asanas is incorporated into 12 Step Yoga. The practice of postures helps individuals develop strength, flexibility, and balance in their bodies. It also cultivates mindfulness and present-moment awareness, allowing individuals to connect with their bodies and observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment.

Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)

Pranayama, or breathing exercises, are an integral part of yoga practice. In 12 Step Yoga, specific breathwork techniques are taught to help individuals regulate their breath and calm their nervous system. This can reduce stress, anxiety, and cravings often associated with addiction.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a core practice in yoga and is incorporated into 12 Step Yoga. Through meditation, individuals develop the ability to observe their thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them. This cultivates mindfulness, inner calm, and self-awareness, which are essential for overcoming addictive patterns.

Self-Inquiry and Reflection

Similar to the self-inventory and reflection process in the 12-Step program, 12 Step Yoga encourages individuals to engage in self-inquiry. Through journaling, contemplation, and guided exercises, individuals explore the underlying causes and triggers of their addictive behaviours, identify patterns, and work towards healing and growth.

Spiritual Connection

12 Step Yoga recognises the importance of a spiritual connection in addiction recovery. It encourages individuals to explore their spirituality and develop a sense of connection to a higher power or a greater sense of purpose. This can provide individuals with a source of strength, guidance, and support in their recovery journey.

The practice of 12 Step Yoga can help individuals in addiction recovery develop self-awareness, self-compassion, and a greater sense of balance and well-being. It can support them in integrating the principles of the 12-Step program into their daily lives, while also incorporating the mind-body-spirit approach of yoga for a holistic recovery experience. It is often used as a complementary practice alongside other treatment modalities and support systems.