Smoking is a habit that is inextricably linked with one’s emotions, which is why many refer to it as a comfort craving. When the mind feels restless, uneasy, or anxious, reaching for a cigarette stick can be a form of self-soothing, so when the habit turns into an addiction, it isn’t easy to break. However, there’s one activity that isn’t usually top of the list when it comes to smoking cessation but has proven effective as a helpful way to quit smoking: yoga.
Because of the practice’s inherently grounding nature, one can form a physical, mental, and emotional connection with the self that is conducive to recovery. According to the American Osteopathic Association, regular yoga practice can have positive effects on mental clarity, chronic stress patterns, and relaxation of the mind. The benefits of quitting smoking are well-documented, from improved lung capacity and blood circulation to a stronger immune system and lowered risk of cancers, heart conditions, and respiratory problems. But the journey to quitting isn’t linear, and because it affects both the mind and body, smoking cessation should be approached holistically.
Simply getting rid of cigarettes isn’t enough, especially since nicotine stays in your system for at least three days after use. Nicotine tests may detect the byproduct cotinine from hair, saliva, or urine, which typically covers the past three days. You may also need to take a nicotine test to comply with specific smoking cessation programs – you can learn more here on Prilla. If you’re preparing to go on a smoking cessation journey, it’s important to begin easing up as soon as possible. Introducing mindfulness practices like yoga, which involve body awareness, can train the mind to keep cravings at bay.
Harnessing yoga to stop smoking
No mumbo-jumbo here: there’s scientific evidence to prove that yoga is positively linked with quitting smoking. In one study of 30 adult daily smokers, researchers observed a 12.55% reduction in cigarette cravings after a half-hour session of yoga led by a certified Hatha yoga instructor. There’s even evidence that yoga is significantly better than other wellness-centered methods in achieving the goal of smoking cessation.
Another randomized clinical trial revealed that participants in a twice- weekly Iyengar Yoga class had 37% greater odds of achieving abstinence from smoking compared to a control group who attended general wellness classes. There are specific yoga poses one can try to open up the lungs and encourage ease of breathing. The bridge pose Setu Bandhasana takes your hips high into the air and stretches various parts of the body, improving oxygen circulation.
On the other hand, the alternate nostril breathing technique, Nadi Shodhana, is said to clear blocked energy channels and help smokers become more aware of any breathing problems they may have. Yoga-based alternate breathing for one month significantly improved cardiorespiratory parameters for 100 healthy young adults.