Increasingly, holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness and exercise are being embraced as ancillary modalities for managing mental health and substance use disorders because they are proven to complement traditional recovery programs.
These self-soothing techniques—especially when combined with socializing through fitness—can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and help people manage anxiety, depression and addiction in a supportive environment.
Yoga specifically can be a powerful tool for people going through major life changes and recovery. Studies have shown that by helping to reduce perceived stress and anxiety, yoga modulates stress response systems and decreases physiological arousal such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
In 2011, David Lawrence Center (DLC), Collier County’s leading non-profit mental health and addiction recovery treatment center, started offering yoga to adult residents in the Crossroads Addiction Recovery program through an innovative partnership with Bala Vinyasa Yoga, now Yoga House.
Bala Vinyasa owner and instructor, Kiersten Mooney, said at the time, “When strong urges or cravings come up due to addictions or major life crises they create extreme emotions and even physical reactions in our body. Through awareness-based yoga practices we are able to increase the gap between a stimulus and our ability to choose how to respond instead of reacting to the sudden urges and emotions.”
Creating a unique opportunity to support DLC, the studio welcomed residents for a private in-studio class as a donation.
Mooney said of her donation, “Yoga can help individuals in recovery let go, have faith and open themselves up to receive the love and support that is around them.”
An example of one of those individuals is Cory, a DLC client who sought treatment after spiraling into opioid addiction. Cory, now sober for two years thanks to the treatment she received at DLC and yoga, said “My underlying problem was that I was disconnected. I felt unworthy and not loved. Once I realized I could be my authentic self, honest and comfortable in my own skin, I was then able to connect with others.”
Cory admits that the yoga community is a big part of the connection she feels today. Fittingly, the word yoga translation in Sanskrit is “unite.”
Realizing fitness was a way to unite donors to support DLC, a generous donation made in 2014 by Denis and Linda McCarthy was then used to fund a new Crossroads Fitness Court, named Bryan’s Court, in honor of their son who lost his battle to addiction. Soon after, DLC partnered with Max Flex Fitness to provide fitness classes for Crossroads residents at the new Bryan’s Court and to children and adults in the Crisis Stabilization Unit. These services, not covered by insurance, were funded by grants from the Community Foundation of Collier County.
Owner of Max Flex Fitness, Nino Magaddino, stated, “Our trainers have an invested interest in using fitness to help others in recovery.”
In addition to teaching DLC clients the importance of fitness for maintaining life-changing wellness, Magaddino provides fundraising support through the DLC Young Executives “Elevate” Wellness Series. Elevate enhances the public’s health and wellbeing through physical activity and also helps create awareness about DLC’s services and fundraising opportunities for DLC’s holistic care.