Ayurveda Addiction Recovery - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

Ayurveda Addiction Recovery

By on April 29, 2016
Ayurveda Addiction Recovery

Ayurveda Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a dirty word. It conjures up images that many of us would rather avoid, and that most of us feel we could never relate to: the “junkie” who would sell his kidney for another hit; the “drunk” puking into the gutter outside the local dive-bar; the woman who would sell her body to the lowest bidder to shoot up in the alley and pay off her pimp.

Our repulsion has been exacerbated by society’s pervasive stigmatism towards the addicted human, rooted in the broader vision of a world that exists to pit us against one another and to keep us tethered to the false promise of finding joy, acceptance and happiness in the next purchase or “hit”.


We are inundated with both subtle and not-so-subtle messages that we are “never enough”. Simply “being” is not enough.


This relentless assault on our psyches to achieve more, do more, have more, is effectively chipping away at our essential self and creating a great chasm of self-loathing and an “us” versus “them” mentality  where compassion, understanding, love and connection once existed.


The reality is that we all have addictive tendencies, and while some may appear more extreme than others, this is simply beside the point:

As a society, we have become separated from our essence as spiritual beings. We have lost sight of the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.


As spiritual beings, we cannot survive wholly without human connection, love, compassion and understanding, and when this need is not met, when there is a lack, or a hole, or an emptiness, we strive to fill that hole, sometimes at the great cost of our own lives and the lives of others.


We fill the emptiness with drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships, video games, the internet, television, food and consumerism. We must begin to ask a new question, posed by modern addictions-recovery specialist, Dr. Gabor Mate:

Not why the addiction, but why the pain?


Re-framing our understanding of addiction in this way can begin to shed light on how we view and treat the addicted human, and most importantly, in how we can begin to move forward with providing a compassionate and dignified space for healing.

In short, we can understand addictions as a coping mechanism for an over-taxed stress-response. When we are constantly striving to keep up and get ahead, we are in a hyper-active state of “fight or flight”, an activation of the sympathetic nervous system which produces chemicals including cortisol and adrenalin. These chemicals are useful when we are actually under severe, life-threatening conditions, but when we are not, and our bodies are still continuing to produce these chemicals in high doses, it creates an imbalance in our systems, altering the natural homeostasis that exists to keep our body-mind connection in balance.

This imbalance leads us to find something, an external source to lean on: alcohol and cigarettes to “calm the nerves”, coffee and cocaine for a “pick-me-up”, television for a “distraction” from feeling and observing our emotions, and so on.

So how does the ancient healing wisdom of Ayurveda and yoga fit in with this modern re-frame of addiction? Ayurveda and yoga, often referred to as “Sister Sciences”, are based upon ancient teachings of creating balance within the body, mind and spirit, encouraging a harmonious existence with our Anamaya kosha(physical “sheath”) and the sophisticated intelligence of the natural world with our spiritual selves.

In fact, the use of Ayurvedic yoga therapy to prevent, treat and heal addictive behaviors makes perfect sense. With the practices of meditation, we learn to observe our thoughts and to be with our emotions as they come up, allowing them to pass through without engaging in reactive tendencies that can cause stress that, as we now understand, can lead to addictive behaviours and a build-up of ama (toxins) in the tissues of the body. Eventually, this toxic build-up can create illness and dis-ease.

With pranayama (breathing techniques) and physical yoga forms, we learn to release the accumulated emotional trauma in our bodies, creating new space for healing and a greater understanding of our connections with all living beings.

Within Ayurvedic practices, we address the nutritional deficiencies that can coincide with addiction with a new understanding of our physical and mental constitutions and how to support the healing process with diet and cleansing routines.

The summation of support on all levels, emotional, spiritual and physical, creates a sophisticated healing system for a loving, gentle, compassionate and effective process to address addictive behaviors.

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About Mercedes CA Grant

Mercedes is a yoga instructor, healer, social entrepreneur, activist, new media producer, boat-rocker and modern nomad, with a deep well of enthusiasm and reverence for the wilderness and all of the knowledge it holds. She is devoted to creating safe, compassionate environments in which people are allowed the space and freedom to connect with themselves and others, to play and heal. Mercedes is educated in documentary filmmaking, journalism and writing and has received her 200 hour yoga certification from the Karma Teachers College in Vancouver, Canada and 300 hour Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy certification from Yoga Veda in Ajijic, Mexico. She has completed an intensive addictions-recovery training program with Dr. Gabor Mate and Sat Dharam Kar, ND, in addition to a mentorship with renowned yoga educator, Shannon Cluff and most recently, an 18 hour Trauma-Sensitive yoga training with Yoga Outreach in Vancouver. She has co-created award-winning documentary film projects, curated and produced social change events and works closely with non-profit organizations to direct funding and development initiatives.

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  1. Pingback: Ayurveda for Addiction Recovery | Yoga Veda

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