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The number of scientific studies on the effects yoga, relaxation and visualization has on physical and mental health is growing rapidly. Health organizations and universities have taken on the task of conducting their own studies to determine for themselves if there is any relevance to the myriad claims in the media today.
Benefits of Yoga Have Been Known for Years
Some studies are relatively new; others have been out there for years but are only now coming back to the forefront as people are finally ready to listen. One area of study involves the effects of yoga, relaxation and visualization on treating alcoholism. An article in the winter 1986 Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly titled, “Yoga as a Therapeutic Component in Treating Chemical Dependency,” focuses on yoga as a therapeutic tool to combat alcoholism and other chemical dependencies.
The article concludes that yoga and meditation together can help patients by accelerating the rehabilitation process and includes case histories to back up its thesis.
A Sense of Well-Being is the Key
Because yoga and meditation both have the effect of giving practitioners a sense of well-being – which is also what alcohol does – the yoga and meditation provide a welcome feeling to substance abusers, giving them a sense of well-being that is not self-destructive, but that is constructive in rebuilding their health.
The article states that substance abuse weakens the system and causes an imbalance in a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual state. Yoga helps to rebuild all three of these. The author, Ann Calajoe, states that this rebuilding actually counteracts and halts any further progression of addiction. Together with meditation, yoga helps patients regain their center so they no longer need to rely on alcohol to feel whole.
Other Studies Confirm These Findings
Another study conducted by the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England found that yoga had an “ invigorating” effect on the energy of participants in its study, both physically and mentally, and left them in highly positive moods. Other studies tracked the effects of yoga, relaxation and visualization on medical students and on those suffering from “technostress,” a form of stress generated by today’s overload of technology.
In both studies, people practicing yoga, meditation, visualization and relaxation benefitted by feeling less anxious and having a greater sense of well-being. Physical effects were also documented in lower blood pressure numbers and heart rates. Because studies have shown that many alcoholics and drug users suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem, practicing yoga, relaxation and visualization can have a positive effect on them, which is why we use them as part of our treatment modalities for addiction.