Yoga and the Recovery Journey

As Hope United plans the programs and offerings at the future Tyler’s Redemption Place, we are looking at many holistic approaches to relapse prevention that will focus on the person as a whole: mind, body and spirit.  Through all of our research, we have found many articles spelling out the benefits of a yoga program for those individuals recovering from the disease of addiction.

Hope United’s main focus for relapse prevention is centered around identifying and remedying the pain, physical and mental, which is typically the driving force behind a person’s addiction and mental health issues. 

Interestingly, scientific evidence has proven a link between stress reduction and the practice of yoga. According to Harvard Health, techniques such as yoga can help to regulate stress in the body and increase a person’s tolerance to pain.

The Yoga Journal states that “yoga is very effective at regulating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline”, and that an imbalance in these hormones in the body can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even substance use disorder.

And according to Scientific American, research has shown that a regular yoga practice can actually change the brain, showing signs of more gray matter (brain cells) in certain areas of the brain.

And since we now know that addiction is a chronic brain disease, it only makes sense that a regular yoga practice can have a positive impact on an individual’s journey to recovery.

And so, in an attempt to learn more, we talked to a local fitness expert to get her thoughts on the topic.  Kim Wagler is the owner of Impulse Training, with two locations – one located at 7982 Whipple Ave NW in North Canton, and her newer location that just opened in the Springfield/Akron area located at 737 George Washington Blvd. Here is what she helped us to understand about yoga and its impact on the individuals recovering from the disease of addiction:

Thank you so much Kim for taking the time to answer some questions. Please tell us a little about Impulse Training.

“Impulse has a mission to serve our community by providing a world-class training experience that will educate, motivate, and empower our clients to achieve positive and permanent life-changing results.  I'd love to say something about our teams desire to serve and the passion we have to have a positive impact on others. Our team is incredibly passionate about our clients, and they are dedicated to helping them gain confidence and accomplish goals.”

Kim, in your experience, how can yoga help people with the disease of addiction who are working on their recovery journey?

“Overcoming addiction is extremely stressful.  Yoga is a proven method of stress reduction by lowering blood pressure, reducing tension and anxiety, enabling higher levels of concentration.  Along with stress reduction, yoga encourages the connection with mind and body, allowing you to feel greater control when it comes to cravings.  Finally, yoga allows people to feel confident in their ability to stay disciplined.” 

How can a consistent yoga program help with the physical or mental pain in our lives? 

“Physical programs that promote inner peace, confidence, and hope, empower us to know that we have the capability to overcome the challenges and obstacles that come up in our lives. I truly believe that mental and physical health go hand in hand.  Those who feel physically capable often are able to control their emotions more effectively.”

What is a flow session at Impulse training that mimics yoga?

“In my flow sessions, my goal is to help the participants focus on their mindset and breathing.  We move through stretches that help the body physically and help them feel empowered to control their actions and mindset.” 

In your opinion, what other fitness activities have been found to be beneficial for people in long-term recovery?

“Outdoor light cardio such as biking, hiking, and swimming can produce positive results due to the added vitamins you get from natural sunlight.  Also, the benefit of connecting with nature gives people a sense of peace and gratitude.

Group training sessions can be incredibly helpful to those overcoming addiction.  The social connection empowers people and gives them a sense of support.  Dancing is also an incredible way to increase positive thoughts and connection.  Endorphins released from positive uplifting songs can create a more positive mindset.”

Kim, I know this may be getting personal, but have you personally been impacted by the disease of addiction in your family or your friend circle?

“My brother found himself deep in an opioid addiction where we watched him lose everything.  I saw how fitness helped him gain his life back.  The confidence he has now in his ability to stay free from the prison of addiction is what drives me to continue sharing our journey.”

I am so glad to hear that your brother is doing well in recovery. May I ask, what advice can you give to families or friends who are impacted by addiction based on your own experience?

“This is incredibly difficult to answer because like a health journey, everyone is different.  The one thing I can say is seek help.  If I would have known differently back when our family was in the hell of addiction we would have sought a professional to help guide us.  Some people told us to use tough love while others told us that we have to do everything in our power to protect him from himself.  We simply loved as best as we knew how and are so grateful God brought freedom in his life.”

That seems like good advice. Can you offer any fitness advice for someone beginning or in the midst of their recovery journey?

“My only advice, and it is repetitive from above, is to seek support.  Having watched my brother go through his recovery journey, I know that support was the key to him finding success.”

So Kim, what advice would you give to someone starting a wellness lifestyle? 

“Take the first step, create a plan, and seek support!  Beginning a new life begins by deciding to take a step.  Then it becomes a matter of having a clear plan and being surrounded by someone or people who are going to support you through the difficult times and cheer you on through the great times!”

Your facility held a fundraiser for Hope United last year. (Thank you!) What attracted you to Hope United's mission?

“Hearing the Bornstein’s story of loss and seeing their mission to save others from the same pain, as well as help educate people on addiction, is what made us want to support their mission.  At Impulse, we strive to serve our community and have a positive impact, and we feel like Hope United has that same mission.”

We truly appreciate the expertise and time from Kim of Impulse Fitness, and we highly recommend looking into yoga or other fitness activities if you are beginning or in the midst of a recovery journey.  If you have a loved one battling drug or alcohol addiction, please continue to show them love and compassion, give them your support, encourage them to seek help, and above all, never give up on them!

In Hope United’s quest to bring a whole body approach and offerings to the future Tyler’s Redemption Place (mind, body and spirit), it is evident that yoga will be a staple of our programs.  Learn more about Tyler’s Redemption Place and WHY THIS MATTERS.

To learn more about Impulse Fitness, visit their website at: