Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

Yoga and Drug Detox

The habit on which we have no control and turn into a slave to it, is called Addiction. Addiction is a chronic but treatable brain disorder. Repeated use of drugs leads to addiction which disrupts the well-balanced neurochemical systems in the brain and severely alters the areas of the brain which are critical to decision making, learning, memory and behavioral control.


• Barbiturates, methaqualone, glutethimide, chloral hydrate and tranquilizers act to depress the nervous system and therefore affect breathing, heart rate as also our thoughts and emotions.

• Amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine and tobacco are stimulants. They suppress sleep and appetite and generally interfere with body rhythms.

• LSD, mushrooms, mescaline, marijuana & other chemicals consist of synthetic and natural substances. Marijuana has hallucinogenic effects & can cause a psychotic break in predisposed individuals.

• Opium, heroin, morphine, codeine and methadone come under the category of narcotics and opiates & produce both psychological and physical addiction.

There is no end to this list. When the addict is not satisfied by all these addictions, he goes on adding more and stronger items, ultimately getting scorpions and serpents giving stings on his tongue.


• Changes in school performance – falling grades, skipping school etc.
• Changes in peer group – hanging out with drug using, antisocial friends
• Breaking rules at home, school and society
• Extreme mood swings, depression, irritability, anger and negative attitude, sudden increase or decrease in activity level, withdrawal from family and keeping secrets
• Changes in physical appearance – weight loss, lack of cleanliness, strange smells etc,
• Stammering, red watery glossy eyes or running nose (which are not due to allergies or cold), changes in eating and sleeping habits
• Lack of motivation or interest in activities which teenagers usually enjoy (eg sports, hobbies etc)
• Lying, stealing and hiding things, using street or drug languages or possession of drug paraphernalia or items, cigarette smoking
• Spendthrift in money matters.
• In the surroundings of his residence you will find empty bottles, aluminum foils, small pieces of cardboards or metal tubes, empty match boxes and injection syringes etc.

• A weakening of willpower
• A lack of external, social and family support, love, affection and not having an aim in life
• The curiosity to experiment with something new
• Bad company of friends who have wrong habits
• Illiterate people residing in cold regions


Ancient Indian Yogic texts describe Psychic energy centers (Chakras). This Psychic energy is translated into hormonal, physiologic and ultimately cellular changes throughout the body. Each major Chakra is associated with a major nerve plexus and a major endocrine gland. In a drug user, Prana (Life Force) is likely to be crystallized in Mooladhara and Swadhisthana Chakras. All the passions, complexes, anguish and desires have their roots there. The ensuing Pranic imbalance creates energy fluctuations in the nervous system, which may be the cause of the visual and auditory hallucinations. If the energy of these two Chakras is not purified, freed and transformed by passage to the higher Chakras, the impulses and experiences which guide a human being will be influenced by the qualities of these two chakras.


To treat dependency and addictions, following program is recommended. It progresses from drug detox to postures to breath-work and to meditation.


Detoxification is a necessary part of overcoming drug abuse. It is vital in the recovery process because it helps the body break its addiction to the substance the person has been abusing. If an individual does not go through drug detox, he will continue to have a strong physical craving for drugs and the withdrawal symptoms will make it very difficult to stay away. Methods used in detoxification are Yoga Asanas (postures), Sukshma Vyayam (gentle exercises), Pranayama, Bandhas, Mudras, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, Naturopathic Diet, massage, steam bath, jalneti, enema, wet and mud packs, hip bath, spinal bath, hot foot bath, full body dry friction, chest pack and chromotherapy (healing by using colour and light). Individuals who abuse drugs will need to go through medically supervised detoxification.


Lie down on the floor with your legs comfortable apart and arms limp by your side. First relax the entire physical body part by part mentally, then bring the awareness of the breath in the abdominal region, expand the abdomen with each inhalation and relax the abdomen with each exhalation. While doing these movements of the stomach feel the body relaxing & the body is becoming free from any kind of tension. Then just observe the whole body mentally & feel if there is still any tensions in any part of the body… release it. Observing your breath, your thoughts are directed towards detecting and discarding any remnants of tension. Thoughts are regarded and then released. This is the birth of mindfulness.


In the early stages simple legs & arms exercises and then shoulder rotations are excellent. As the practitioner increases his energy levels and physical strength, he can start with Kati- Chakrasana, Chakrasana, Dhanurasana, Paschimottanasana, Nauka Sanchalanasana, Vajrasana, Shashankasana, Ushtrasana (camel), Marjarisana (cat stretch) Tadasana, Trikonasana and Surya Namaskara. The various movements loosen up the joints & give flexibility, balance and strength to the body thus aiding the detoxification process.


Pranayama is a panacea for the health of the mind and the heart. Bhramari (humming bee breath), Sheetali, Ujjayi, Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and abdominal breathing all are good in a progressive way.

• Bhramari (humming bee breath) is useful for mental stress. It increases inner calmness and can soothen the turbulent mind. A few rounds of Bhramari are good for those who have trouble going to sleep. This is very useful at the time of detoxification when many addicts cannot sleep due to withdrawal.
• Sheetali cools the mind & helps in preventing and reducing the intensity of panic attacks.
• Ujjayi balances the endocrine system and very good for relaxation.
• Kapalbhati is useful in reducing the quantity of recurrent obsessive thoughts.
• Bhastrika removes the toxins.
• Nadi shodhana Pranayama is a crucial practice for mental clarity, alertness, balance and purification of the Nadis.

While doing Pranayama, breathe in peacefully and breathe out peacefully. With each inhalation, feel as you are inhaling new power, light, knowledge, brightness and development inside you. With each exhalation, feel as you are distributing happiness, composure and divinity to the universe. Fill the universe with composed and healthy thoughts, health and composure will return to you thousand-fold. Even if one continues a routine of Pranayama two to three times a day for ten to fifteen minutes for one continuous month, one can feel tremendous improvement in health.


Once the energy and physical strength start increasing, Bandhas can be started. These are energy block removers. They compress organs and endocrine glands, affecting secretion and direction of flow. Bandhas increase stamina, strengthen the abdominal and lumbar muscles and massage the abdominal organs, increasing circulation to these areas. This massage works well on the liver, an important major organ for detoxification.


The practice of Yoga Nidra, which is a simple and indirect method to contact the preconscious and unconscious mind, is a practical and easily applicable technique. It allows the body to heal and to rest completely. Yoga Nidra gives time to step back and gain a wider picture of what is going on. Proceed systematically and very gradually; initially start with breath awareness, breath counting and rotation of consciousness around the body. 

To see one’s condition, introduce positive visualizations, but keep them simple, realistic, practical and grounded that contains self-recovery images which are linked with a Sankalpa (resolve). Sankalpa is the most useful and important part of the practice which is directed towards an improvement in physical balance. Always discover your own Sankalpa. Experience that you are fully composed and healthy. After few practices one will feel better, have more physical energy with improved digestion and sleep and a reduced level of anxiety.


• Choose those which relate to reality and are linked with everyday life. One can use visualizations connected with the sequence of Asanas performed or which were likely to improve the functioning of the physiological systems and organs, i.e. those directed towards the attainment of a definite practical objective. In general keep the visualizations very simple.

• Avoid suggesting any visualization which causes the practitioner to `fly away' and stimulate vivid memories. Avoid visualizations like walking on rainbows, sitting by crystal lakes, etc. However, under the influence of certain drugs you actually visualize certain things like that, so the association with that type of visualization would be drugs, a drug induced experience. We want to avoid any association between yoga and taking drugs, therefore, we try to keep the visualizations very grounded and practical.


For example, first go back through the day from the morning up to the present. Then go back another day. When you have the confidence of the practitioner, you can go further back, like one week, one month, one year & so on. It is quite important to go back to childhood. Recall is a useful technique for showing that there was a time before drugs were used, that the stage of using was just a middle stage, a period in their life, and did not last forever. It is quite useful for bringing up memories which people, who have been using drugs, didn't recall before, just to acknowledge "Yes, I did this," without guilt. It is very beneficial to clear out these mental images. If a cloud moves in, the sun gets covered. There is no reason to think that the brightness of the sun has reduced. Try this method two to three times in a day; you will surely attain complete composure and health.


Remember name of any God in which you have complete faith, while you move about, walk, sit and get up. God means peace, composure, beauty and happiness. Peace and happiness are your aims in life. Remember that name which would fill you with peace and composure in your internal consciousness. Forget the past. Do not worry about the future. Observe God every¬where in the planes with green grass extending on long distances in green field, in the high trees reaching the skies, beautiful streams, open sky, sunrise, sunset, the chirping of the birds, your sickness will run away. Open your heart before God. Oh God, I belong to you, you are mine, let anything that is good for me, happen. Remember God in your quiet and peaceful mind. God is inside you. You are also pure, you are intelligence incarnate. Feel this and you will inhabit new life.


Sit in a meditative posture, keeping the eyes closed. If you feel you can’t keep the eyes closed wear eye patches so that you can stay in that relaxed state of mind only. Any visual stimulation affects the state of relaxation in the brain. Ajapa Japa, is a practice in which deepening of concentration and internalization of awareness takes place. Begin by witnessing the flow of the natural breathing of the nasal passage. Be aware of the cool sensation within the nostrils at the time of inhalation and the warm sensation within the nostrils at the time of exhalation. Concentration on the temperature of the air going in and out of the nostrils helps to balance the activities of the two brain hemispheres.

The flow in the right nostril stimulates the left hemisphere and the flow in the left nostril stimulates the right hemisphere. The right nostril is the location of Pingala Nadi, the source of heat and vitality, and the left nostril is the location of Ida Nadi, the source of coolness and tranquility. Therefore, if we were able to merge the mind with the experience of breathing and the temperature of the breath, it would be possible to induce changes in the patterns of the brain waves. This can be achieved through concentration and awareness of the fact that one is breathing in and out, and observing the temperature of the breath.

After observing the breath in the nostrils, become aware of the movement of the breath in the frontal passage between the nose and the navel.

Normally when we breathe in, the air goes down into the lungs and when we breathe out the air comes up out of the lungs. However, in the practice of Ajapa Japa, we reverse the awareness factor, so at the time of inhalation, imagine the breath was ascending from the navel to the nostrils and at the time of exhalation that the breath was descending from the nostrils to the navel.

This practice internalizes your attention and awareness so deeply that there would come a time when you would stop hearing the noises outside, though ears are not blocked. By keeping the eyes closed, or by wearing eye patches, there would be visual deprivation, and by observing the flow of the breath there would be auditory deprivation.

Then start repeating the mantra So Ham with the breath. So represents the sound of inhalation and Ham represents the sound of exhalation. The mantra has the effect of making the mind more focused, tranquil and peaceful. After practising mantra repetition with the breath for five to seven minutes, the practice of Ajapa Japa ends. Then chant Om verbally for five minutes, still keeping your eyes closed. This ends the thirty minute practice of Ajapa Japa. Now you can very slowly open the eyes.


Apart from damaging the central nervous system, drugs also suppress the immune response because of the hyper stimulation of the glands of the adrenal cortex. Situations of stress and continuous reactions of the fight or flight mechanism bring about excessive production of adrenalin and noradrenalin hormones and reduced production of corticosteroid hormones. The immune system can be re-conditioned by relaxation techniques which help in stimulating the thymus gland. Just one session of relaxation combined with regular physical exercise, can increase the production of killer cells and of endogenous opioides.


Yoga is undoubtedly one of the best methods of inner awakening, being relatively safe and well charted. It generates willpower and vitality, which can alter the mental state of desiring and craving. All the Yoga techniques work on self-acceptance. It is quite necessary to shower love, goodwill & patience till the addict does not make conscious efforts to do so. Yoga might represent the possibility of tripping the switch in the right direction. As spring follows the winter slowly and adorns the whole world, same way, Yogic treatment instills new consciousness, new enthusiasm, fullness, will power and creates an irrepressible desire to live life fully.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti