Alternative Therapies


Yoga is an old discipline from India which is both spiritual and physical and uses breathing techniques/exercise and meditation.

Yoga has many benefits which can improve health and happiness by relieving stress and anxiety, improving sleep patterns, increasing energy levels, calming the nervous system, improving emotional healing, increasing physical stamina and strength, increasing self-awareness, increasing self-confidence and improving self-image.


Yoga helps you to slow down and relax. It helps you to become more aware and quieten and focus a busy mind. It is being used more often in substance abuse treatment programs and throughout recovery to help prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms, drug cravings and provide a healthy outlet to help cope with daily life stresses. Yoga is a complementary health practice and is often beneficial when used along with other substance use and addictive disorder treatment methods.

Yoga is the use of physical postures to learn how to connect mind, body and breath to gain self-awareness and focus attention inwards.

Poses can be individual but generally in a class a person will move from one pose to another. When first learning yoga it’s helpful to attend a class or find a trained yoga instructor. Classes generally last for one hour. It’s generally very reasonable in price to attend a yoga class. It’s best to start at a beginner’s class. There are many different types of yoga and also different levels within the type.

Hatha yoga is usually a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures.

Kundalini Yoga is a system of meditation, with some movement, and aims to release pent up energy.

Ashtanga Yoga applies six established sequences of poses that rapidly link every movement to breath.

Bikram Yoga, also known as hot yoga, occurs in heated rooms with high temperatures and humidity consisting of several poses and breathing exercises. This is not for beginners.

There are many other different types of yoga. You must find which type of yoga suits you best, some classes are a lot more strenuous than others and some are very gentle focusing more on breathing and meditation. Classes can also differ with different teachers. If you do not want to attend a class you can always practice yoga at home, all you need is a mat, and a DVD or online guidance. There are also sites recommending specific poses which are beneficial in addiction recovery.


Once you have decided that you want to quit your dependency and/or addiction, it’s good to have other activities with which you can fill your time and relax your mind. You could also meet new friends at group meetings.

Meditation is a practice where you focus your mind on a particular object, thought or activity or sometimes nothing at all. It uses a technique such as mindfulness to train attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm and stable state. Meditation has been proven to be beneficial in reducing stress, anxiety, depression and pain whilst increasing inner peace, perception and well-being.

The mental discipline that you can develop through meditation may help you to break the cycle of dependency and/or addiction cravings by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers that lead to substance use and addictive disorder behaviours.

Mindfulness practice helps you to become focused, set aside any distractions and to enter the transformative state of an open mind. It will help you to develop the capacity to see things more clearly and identify what you have become attached to so that you can move forward and end your internal struggles. Meditation can increase willpower and the control that you have over impulses and emotions.

Sometimes the ‘wanting mind’ clings to something negative – an unwholesome belief about how things ought to be or how they should have been. This can cause you to experience anger, sadness or jealousy.

Practicing mindfulness can help to calm the ‘wanting mind’ in its current state of unhappiness and turmoil. Your ‘wanting’ thoughts could be: ‘if only I could have more money/a better job/more power/better relationships with friends and family’ or have something that you have had and lost. By retraining your mind through mindfulness practices, meditation or yoga you can create new neural networks.

Meditation therapies

Meditation is usually very easy to master as it’s often practiced whilst focusing your mind on breathing. You can start meditating for short periods of time and gradually try to increase the duration that you spend doing it.

Simple Meditation for Beginners:

  • Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet place, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed
  • Close your eyes if you wish – most people find it easier to meditate in this way
  • Breathe normally
  • Focus your attention on your breathing and how your breath moves through your body each time that you inhale and exhale
  • Some people count whilst meditating or repeat a mantra such as ‘Sat Nam’ (it means ‘I am truth’ or ‘true identity’) either in your head or out loud. Try Inhaling as you say ‘Sat’ and exhaling as you say ‘Nam’
  • Alternatively, some people focus on different parts of the body. They inhale all the positive good energy into the body and exhale all their pain and negative energy from the body
  • Others quieten the mind and think about nothing but the present moment, just concentrating on their breathing

You have to find out what works for you!

Start with a few minutes of meditation and gradually build it up to what suits you. If thoughts come into your mind, let them come and go – don’t think about them.

I generally meditate before bed. Others meditate throughout the day or after a stressful period or event.

Find out what suits you – there are no rules!

Yoga classes often involve some time for meditation. Yoga itself is very good for the mind and body. Some classes integrate meditation with the motion of yoga.

There are many good sites on the internet explaining the basics of meditation –

There are also free Apps for guided meditation which are also very good:

  • Calm (#1)
  • free Mindfulness
  • free Headspace
  • free Lets Meditate

You can also pay an annual fee to get more Apps.

Thanks to researchers studying mindful meditation, we now know that through actively practicing mindful meditation the brain can be remapped and rewired. This has a direct influence on how the brain functions, as well as how it influences the body in general.

Learn how to use meditation for healing addictions –

Meditation for Healing Addiction

Deep Breathing

Breathing is an automatic process that is controlled by the brain and very often we take no notice whatsoever of its effects on our bodies. That is until we physically overexert ourselves, have an asthma attack, panic attack or feel stress and anxiety – to name but a few. Such things can make the heart race, cause shaking, light-headedness, cold clammy skin and many more symptoms; causing your body to go into overdrive as it releases adrenalin to combat the stressors. Whilst you can’t control your body’s natural adrenalin response you can control your breathing.

“Breathing is central to life”

For people in the early stages of recovery, treatment and detox or going through a high stress situation breathing exercises can greatly benefit. Helping to control your emotions and physical state.

Breathing exercises have a number of health and wellbeing benefits, including:

  • increasing oxygen to your cells
  • relaxing tense muscles and help shaking
  • releasing ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain – positive brain chemistry
  • natural pain relief
  • detoxification – ridding your body of harmful toxins via the lymphatic system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • equalising your heart rate
  • improving the efficiency of your digestive system
  • alleviating insomnia
  • help control cravings
  • help to control panic attacks, anxiety and stress

“Inhale oxygen – Exhale toxins”

Breathing Exercises for Dependency and/or Addiction Recovery

Breathing exercises can have a big impact on your ‘road to recovery’ and can remain beneficial during your journey to control dependency and/or addictive tendencies as you move further and further away from your life of substance use or addictive disorders. They can be used in your overall recovery program alongside other therapies, whether holistic or medical based.

With this in mind we have chosen two of the techniques that we have experienced and hope you will find them beneficial. These techniques can be used wherever you are and at any time of day or night and in any situation – they’re portable, take them with you and use them to help you.

Should they not work for you please try others that you will find on the internet, via Apps or through any programs that you may be involved in.

Breathe Outside the Box

More often known as ‘Box Breathing’ or ‘Combat Tactical Breathing’; used by armed forces around the world and some national airlines in training their troops and staff for high stress situations.

breathing meditation

Each step is achieved in four seconds; hence the box reference:

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds – make sure you have no air in your lungs before you start to inhale/breathe in. Make sure you breathe in and fill your lungs.

2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds – no more inhaling/breathing in at this point and don’t let the air escape.

3. Breathe out for 4 seconds – let the air out of your lungs by exhaling/breathing out at an even rate for the whole five seconds and make sure you get all the air out.

4. Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds – it may be tempting to inhale/breathe in immediately after letting it all out, but just hang on for four more seconds

Well done!

3 – 4 – 5 Breathing

Dr Rangan Chatterjee, author of the 4 Pillar Plan advocates this simple breathing technique. He believes that every patient is unique and uses this tried and tested method with his patients to good effect.

Just Breathe in for 3 seconds – Hold for 4 seconds – Then Breathe out for 5 seconds. Well done!


Journey Pure – Breathing Exercises to Help Manage Addiction Recovery

Serenity – What are the benefits of breathing exercises when used for addiction recovery

Curiosity makes you smarter – Box breathing

Dr Ranjan Chatterjee