We’re all well aware that smoking is bad. With the carcinogens, yellow teeth, wrinkles, and lung damage, smoking is inarguably one of the most unhealthy (and expensive) habits that we can adopt.
That being said, there’s plenty we can do to kick smoking to the curb. The practice of yoga, in particular, offers addiction recovery across all planes—physical, mental, and emotional.
How Yoga Asana Can Help
Practicing yoga poses helps open the air pathways, encouraging fuller, deeper breaths. Any pose that expands the chest wall is excellent, such as:
Cobra pose bends the back, and expands and stimulates the lungs.
From a neutral tabletop position, slowly arch the back and bring air all the way into the abdomen.
Bow Pose stretches the chest wall for better circulation to the lungs and the heart.
Mind Over Matter
Mind over matter is a key factor in addiction recovery, as the root of our addictions often dwell here. How many times have you told yourself “just one more!” or “I’ll quit tomorrow”?
Sometimes, we’re so smart that we can trick ourselves into thinking that we have follow-through; making bets with our addictions for the sake of one more bite, hit, or puff. Yoga is helpful here, as it allows us to tap into our deep thoughts and sort out the root of our desires and motivations. Some useful techniques are:
Aptly nicknamed “Corpse pose,” this yoga pose is great for soothing anxiety and bringing mindfulness to the thoughts. Simply lying still in a dark, quiet place can do wonders for the mind, encouraging us to do some inner exploration and deep shadow work.
If there’s anything that can get you out of the mind and into the body, it’s a headstand. You’ll be so focused on maintaining balance and breathing that negative thoughts will rush out of the head. Try practicing on a beach, near a stream, or in an peaceful area of your choice for an extra boost of calm.
Many of us live in the mind—constantly thinking, analyzing, obsessing. Addictions can often come from a state of ungroundedness, where we can’t think clearly or decipher our true needs and wants.
Yoga helps us ground by forcing us into the body, urging us to shift away from the mind chatter and focus on what our bodies need in the here and now. Any pose that allows us to place our hands, feet, or heads on the floor is a great conduit for grounding.
How Yoga Can Help Emotionally
Emotions are very tightly entwined in smoking addiction, with many finding that a quick puff will help calm the nerves. Every time you grab a cigarette to see you through emotional upheaval, however, you deepen the addiction—adding smoking to your list of unhealthy comfort crutches.
Instead of reaching for another stick, you can opt for connecting with and clearing emotional baggage through yoga, building a solid self-support system for times of stress.
Simply folding the body forward and connecting with the ground is one of the most emotionally healing experiences in existence. It puts us in surrender mode, where we accept what is, why it is, and learn to forgive ourselves and the circumstances surrounding our addictions.
As you practice it, imagine connecting with the mother earth element to nurture, soothe, and comfort.
Breath of Fire
This practice not only invigorates and strengthens the lungs, it also helps us reach consciousness outside of our mental and emotional states. Breath of Fire involves intensely-focused breath control, breathing in and out of the nose very quickly (and loudly) for timed intervals.
Although smoking addiction can be quite a beast, the best way to tame it is through gentle, mindful action. Rather than seeing it as something to “beat,” see it as something to grow from.
Yoga can help you stop smoking by helping you come to terms with this concept, as well as incorporating poses and practices that heal, motivate, and inspire us to become victors rather than victims.
Image Credit: Heather Gjerde