Shaura Hall overcame addiction herself and now helps others to heal through yoga therapy. She will be speaking at the Instill conference about how her work could help young people with screen addiction. We asked her about her work:
Breaking the cycle of addiction
“Addiction is a very hard recovery and I could tell you many stories that
would break your heart. I experienced a painful 10-year cycle of addiction and lost much as a result of it. But this experience ultimately led me to become a yoga therapy teacher and to dedicate myself to helping others to heal. So, what I want to share with you is my experience in breaking the cycle of addiction. I also want to discuss how we can help young people with screen-age addictions by better understanding how the brain reacts to stress and – more importantly for recovery – how it responds to relaxation.
Changing the brain
The brain deals with stressful events in many different ways. One of its coping strategies is to modify certain structures that are active in the dopamine pathway, the neurotransmitter linked to reward-motivated behaviour.
This change gives rise to addiction or repetitive behavioural patterns. Recovery takes dedication and often requires the creation of a very different identity from the one that we had before. Such transformation is possible and, given the right environment, we can change our brain behaviour and overcome obstacles.
Yoga teachers can offer this space to young people and teach them the
regulatory skills to find their way through the world. The brain goes through important changes in adolescence that have the potential to affect a young person’s mental health for life. Too much screen time, I believe, influences the adaptation of the young brain, activating stress-signaling pathways and the dopamine system.
The Araucaria Project
I have already used my training and experience to develop a CPD training for healthcare professionals on what happens when the brain adapts to substances or behavioural patterns due to stress. Now I hope to extend this by setting up a programme to support people with screen-age addictions. This will come under the Araucaria Project, a social enterprise I am setting up. The Araucaria Project will support people in recovery who have been practising yoga to learn how to teach yoga – and give it back to the community. I am hoping that the stories that will come out of this project will lift – rather than break – your heart.