Using yoga for addiction is a profound recovery tool. The simple effort to pay attention to how I breathe was one of the most important break throughs in my recovery from drugs and alcohol. To this day I use a 3-minute Breath of Fire a couple of times a day just to clear out the cobwebs in my thinking, shift emotional gears, and get a cleaner or less toxic feeling in my body.
A few of my favorite teachers also suggested that I try Sat Kriya, and to try to practice it up to no more than 31 minutes a day for at least 40 days. At first I had a lot of trouble keeping my arms up and the posture nice and stable, but after a couple of weeks I was able to jump from 7 minutes a day to 11 minutes a day. At one point I got up to about 20 minutes a day, but because of time constraints in the morning I settled on 11 minutes. I chose to do the exercise at the same time every morning so that I could set my mood and intention for the entire day. It is a powerful kriya, and Yogi Bhajan advised us to rest in savasana for the same amount of time that we are active in the kriya, so make sure you schedule in enough time to experience a full rest afterwards (for me that meant a little over 20 minutes total). My experience was that I felt a bit discombobulated when I cheated on the rest after Sat Kriya.
There is something extremely powerful in doing anything every day for 40 days or more – one entire cycle of the moon, a little over a month, because it is a cycle in which you are building a new habit. The fact for me is that I desperately needed healthy habits; I was determined to feel better because my moods were bordering on clinically neurotic and anxious. The effect on me was so positive and tremendous that I did Sat Kriya every day for almost a year (actually about 11 months). Even though I experienced some discomfort while active in the posture, including a racing mind and shoulder fatigue, I would simply settle in and remember that 11 minutes passes fairly quickly, as does everything (eventually) when learning a new discipline. The payoff was the full relaxation on my back for 11 minutes as my entire body buzzed, tingled, and vibrated with deliciousness.
I also work a 12 Step program every day, and the combination helped me to recover rapidly and achieve a level of well being that was unexpected. As I’ve said previously, Kundalini yoga is not a substitute for working a 12-Step program, but rather should be used to supplement the program that you already have in place. If you don’t like Sat Kriya, then try some other kriya that resonates with you, and just do it every day no matter what.
Many people have had amazing recovery experiences with Kirtan Kriya, which is the current Spirit Voyage 40-day Sadhana! Regardless of which kriya you choose, there is something about making a commitment to a healthy habit and doing it every day that builds character. If you do the work, there will always be a payoff, whether it is a better general sense of well being, greater strength of mind and body, or simply the ability to say that you accomplished it… Others will always be inspired by your accomplishment.