Addiction: Yoga Therapy Vs. Yoga Class

In this segment from a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Q&A, Brandt discusses the difference between private yoga therapy for addiction and the yoga classes commonly found in addiction centers.

Look, addiction centers, what they generally do is couple yoga with other modalities, right? So a lot of people get into yoga when they’re trying to battle their addiction because they go to addiction treatment center and they basically do yoga. And that yoga is really varied but generally it’s trauma sensitive – it’s based on calming the nervous system, the things you’d expect, right? But when you work one-on-one with an addict, what I’m doing is usually two-fold. And the first one is really looking at their doshas and really giving them practices to balance their doshas first.

So that’s sort of the first order of business. A lot of addicts are seriously pitta imbalanced and so I work with that a lot. But then a sort of deeper work is more from a Koscheck perspective where the way I look at it is we’re trying to retrain their system so that their vision of maya-kosha, their unconscious mind is not guiding their actions. So you can get into very deep work. There’s a part of getting out of being an addict – and I’ve been one so I know this – where you’re just sort of gritting your teeth and it works if you work it kind of thing. And that model’s good, but it’s only good to a point because it won’t move you beyond your addictions taking, causing you to act constantly. So the next piece of work then is the stuff we’re actually doing in this course, which is to really understand that those addictive tendencies are…even though they feel energetic and physical and all these things, we’re actually working in the unconscious mind. And the job really is to unearth those things.

So a lot of philosophy, a lot of practice, practice, practice like physical pranayama all to get sort of even dosha-cly but then we like really dive in and try to change how we interact with our system. The practice of yoga in a way is really getting unaddicted to your thoughts is a large part of that practice. And you can say that many ways, right? You could also say it’s getting unaddicted to reacting to your thoughts. But either way, we’re all addicts. So when I’ve worked with addicts, I like working with addicts one-on-one more. I’ve done class work in my life and I like that because I’m more of a…it helps and I like to give people hope in that way that practice can bring them relief. But the other thing which could be super controversial, so I’ll just preface this, is that not all addicts wanna be unaddicted. So as a yoga therapist, your job is to give people the chance to investigate whether they do or not and then what you usually find out is who is really interested in changing. That’s true of everything, but it’s in starker relief with addiction.

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