Smoking can seriously alter your health as well as your mind; it damages your lungs and heart, disrupts your hormone levels, and even affects brain function.
In addition, heavy smokers are often at a higher risk of developing many types of cancer.
As a result, many people have tried to quit smoking, and many have failed. While nicotine patches and nicotine gum can help smokers wean themselves off the habit, people who ask for help almost universally say, “I want to quit smoking.”
But how should they do it? Should they take prescription drugs? Ought they go cold turkey? Can yoga help them kick the habit for good? This article will explore how yoga can help you kick your nasty habit.
Why is it hard to quit smoking?
The first thing to know is that quitting is hard for a lot of reasons. First, there are physical aspects to smoking—it tastes awful, it’s common for smokers to chew the tobacco, and it’s addictive.
Second, there are also psychological factors involved—smokers often feel powerless to quit because they don't want to give up the pleasure of smoking, and many believe that they have no one to turn to if they do leave.
Even if a heavy smoker would like to quit, quitting can seem simply out of reach. One reason is that the habit has become so ingrained that it’s nearly impossible to break. Another reason is that habits are hard to change for good.
Because of these reasons, smokers find it hard to quit. But why is it so hard?
Physical addiction: The nicotine in cigarettes satisfies the body’s need for nicotine, so when you take away the nicotine and the cigarette, your body will go through withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms vary from person to person, but they typically include headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
In other words, you will experience a great deal of discomfort when you try to quit. Withdrawal symptoms vary in duration, depending on the number of cigarettes smoked per day and how long the person has smoked.
The good news is that these physical side effects only last a few days to a few weeks. Some people opt instead for nicotine patches or nicotine gum, reducing or eliminating withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Psychological addiction: Psychological addiction is what disappoints many smokers the most. The experiences of craving, withdrawal, and craving again are compelling.
One study found that when participants were surveyed about what they considered their most significant reasons for smoking—the results included "this is my addiction," "I enjoy it," and "it makes me feel good."
It’s also important to realize that if you don’t overcome the psychological attachment to smoking, you’re unlikely to quit in the first place.
Yoga can save you!
Yoga provides important ways to assist by offering strategies and coping mechanisms to divert us from cravings.
It teaches us about willpower and discipline, and it even helps our bodies heal as we persevere in our efforts to quit.
Yoga postures assist in expanding the airways, enabling fuller, deeper breaths. Any position that broadens the chest wall is ideal, such as:
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
It is one of the best yoga poses to perform. Cobra pose curves the back and opens and livens up the lungs. It stretches the rib cage, which is especially helpful for those who smoke. In addition, it provides relief to the back muscles and helps reduce chest pain.
Cat-Cow yoga Pose
Cat-cow pose squeezes the waist, stretches the lungs, stimulates digestion, and increases circulation. In addition, it relieves chest pressure, which is often associated with smoking.
Downward facing dog
A downward-facing dog opens the lungs and helps to relieve tension in the body. The downward-facing dog pose strengthens the upper body, stretches the spine, and increases lung capacity.
It increases blood flow to the chest area, which is also helpful in relieving chest pain. It relieves tension in your shoulders so you are not riddled with guilt.
The downward-facing dog pose stimulates digestion and helps ease indigestion.
The bow pose stretches the rib cage and lungs, which can make breathing easier. The bow pose stretches the lungs even more deeply than the cobra pose because it pulls on the lower back muscles.
It can be helpful for smokers because they often experience pain in these areas after smoking cigarettes.
Bow pose helps relieve this pain as well as relieves constipation and other digestive issues associated with smoking.
Corpse pose (Shavasana)
The corpse pose is a relaxation posture that calms the body and mind. It helps clear the mind of distractions and allows a smoker to focus on quitting smoking.
The corpse pose is an excellent way to relax right after a stressful time, whether it's after a meal after you get up from bed or work or before bedtime.
Taking long, slow, deep breaths while practising these poses can help ease withdrawal symptoms. The slower you breathe in and out, the deeper your breaths will be. It allows you to get more oxygen into your body.
Kapalbhati means “shiny forehead,” which is a sign of a healthy body. This position assists your body in detoxifying itself by releasing toxins through the outgoing breath.
This type of yoga not only improves blood circulation but also rejuvenates the neurological system and brain cells. In addition, it relaxes the mind and aids in resisting the desire to smoke.
More yoga poses that will help you emotionally:
Child’s Pose (Shishuasana)
The child’s pose helps relieve tension in the back and shoulders while allowing you to relax and breathe slowly.
One of the greatest emotionally therapeutic experiences is just folding the body forward and connecting with the ground.
It puts us in a state of surrender, where we accept what is, why it is, and learn to forgive ourselves and the circumstances that surround our addictions.
Breath of Fire
This technique energizes and develops the lungs but also assists us in reaching consciousness outside of our mental and emotional states.
Breath of Fire is characterized by highly concentrated breath control, with the player blowing in and out of the nose very fast during specified periods.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathing technique helps relieve stress and panic attacks and develop both the left and right brain hemispheres.
When you practice this breathing technique, you are likely to reach a state of calmness, which will help you control your cravings.
While smokeless cigarettes are growing in popularity, smokeless tobacco still carries many risks that are not associated with e-cigarettes.
For example, any substance you place in your mouth when you are not chewing is considered a 'mind-altering' substance.
In addition, chewing tobacco causes your teeth to rot and can even cause gum disease, so smoking is even more detrimental to oral health.
Yoga helps smokers quit by teaching them about their bodies, controlling their cravings and increasing awareness of the critical impact that their habits have on others.
It also teaches them how to relax and focus their minds on new positive things.
Having this ability will help you stay calm when you're stressed out, and it will help you not get addicted to smoking new cigarettes if you're addicted to smoking new ones.
If you want to stop smoking, there’s no better way than taking yoga classes!