Goddess Yoga Pose

Manage Bad Habits and Addictions

One way to see the difference between yoga and yoga poses is through the way each approaches bad habits and addictions. In yoga poses, addictive behaviors are judged and interpreted. They are seen as part of larger patterns and often rooted in some traumatic past event (for example, a patient’s alcoholism is traced back to an alcoholic or abusive parent). A lot of time is devoted to exploring the root causes of an addiction.

Yoga is more respectful of the client and more pragmatic in its approach. All I ask of clients with addictions, for instance, is that they manage what is holding them back. There is no judgment, no interpretation. They just need to manage the behavior effectively whether coming up with a creative solution (such as successfully limiting the number of drinks at each event) or by attending a 12-step abstinence-based program. We discuss how having accountability relationships such as a coach and a 12-step meeting sponsor (for example, a big brother or big sister advisory relationship in anonymous organizations such Alcoholics Anonymous) are keys to recovery. I find that clients who attend 12-step meetings and work diligently with a sponsor do better in the long run as compared to those who attend meetings alone. There is something about the sponsor and coach relationship that brings out the best in the client.

As a coach, I want to help my clients establish their vision for the next phase of their lives. They can’’take this foundational step, however, if they have unmanaged addictions or even bad habits. Repeated behaviors that cause dysfunction, whether involving classic addictions such as drugs, sex, gambling, and alcohol, or bad habits such as obsessive television watching, Internet compulsivity, or frenetic shopping need to be controlled. Yoga helps people become aware of how these bad habits or addictions get in the way of the vision of their life they’re trying to realize. More than that, Yogis work with their clients to come up with a plan and action steps to manage these dysfunctional behaviors. As Yogis, we’re not particularly focused on understanding the cause of addictions as much as on preventing them from being obstacles to a fulfilling, purposeful life. There is increasing evidence that a genetic predisposition can play the key role in the formation of an addict. However, it’s also possible for some people that analysis of the causes helps them manage their addictive behaviors, but it varies from individual to individual. Yogis are sufficiently flexible to tailor their approach to fit a client’s needs.

Goddess Yoga Pose Photo Gallery




Yogis place the highest priority on their client’s vision, and that’s why I was concerned when one of my clients, Susan, shared with me a new vision of her life, one that no longer included her husband in it. For a number of reasons, she couldn’t discuss her desire for a divorce with her husband immediately, and the anxiety that this situation produced was overwhelming. Her anxiety turned into a number of bad habits, including shopping and obsessive housework. During our yoga sessions, it became clear that these behaviors felt out of control to Susan. It was how she coped with a marriage that was difficult for her. More than that, these bad habits were enabling her to postpone her implementation of her vision. As long as she kept shopping and neatening her house obsessively, she was able to delay the confrontation with her husband and maintain the status quo. During our yoga sessions together, I worked with Susan to develop a plan that would help her communicate with her husband openly and manage these bad habits. Doing so was a critical step, and she began to talk to him about her plans and found that her bad habits decreased in intensity.

Today, Susan is single and a much happier, more fulfilled person and making progress in both our yoga sessions and her life toward fulfilling her wishes.

Sometimes a bad habit or an addiction just needs to be managed with an effective plan in yoga. This is true for Internet addiction, gambling, sex, alcoholism, drug use, and other issues such as procrastination, tardiness, sloppiness, hoarding, sarcasm, anger, lying, compulsive shopping, and many others. At times, a recovery program needs to be involved for the client to have a positive outcome. Yoga is very compatible with recovery programs and helps clients manage their lives in general.

In the spectrum below you can see that once an effective plan to manage a bad behavior or addiction was in place, remission was restored.

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