With cigarette sales higher in Ontario than any other province in 2015, smokers may feel like there’s temptation at every turn. But choosing to incorporate yoga as part of a smoking cessation effort can help nurture and complement the positive cardiovascular and mental health changes that come with quitting. Whether you begin a yoga program before or after you stop smoking, you can reap the benefits.
How Yoga Helps You Quit
The practice of yoga can support the body’s natural changes as it recovers from stopping cigarette use. When someone gives up smoking, there’s a period of intense mental and physical change for the now-former smoker. Feelings of anxiety, irritability, and lack of concentration – which can begin within hours – can leave someone feeling off-balance.
Meanwhile, there’s just as much physical upheaval. Lung function and circulation begin to improve right away, and the benefits continue for years. Some smokers report weight gain in the months after quitting, In addition to improving blood flow, concentration, and stress relief, yoga has been reported to reduce the weight gain that’s common when quitting smoking.
Despite all of the warnings about tobacco usage, nearly 1 in 6 Canadians still smokes. While products like nicotine gums and patches are often offered to people who want to quit, adding yoga can provide important mental and physical support. Through a series of guided stretches and movements characterized by meditative breathing, yoga supports a strong mind/body balance.
There are several types of yoga, each slightly different in their approach and style, including Ayurvedic, flow, and power yoga; however, they all deliver similar positive results. Practitioners often find greater mental clarity and focus through mastery of mindfulness. These can be useful when fighting tobacco cravings, especially when cravings intensify in response to stress. Physically, students of yoga experience improved circulation and respiration, which supports the body’s natural recovery from tobacco usage. Power Yoga in particular can be useful to those who have quit smoking; it’s focus on mental and physical strength builds skills that are applicable to challenges outside of yoga, too.
Yoga is a holistic approach to physical and mental wellness. The benefits of yoga can help people who want to quit smoking reach their goal. Guided stretches and meditative breathing help with mental clarity and focus as well as stronger cardiovascular function. Yoga has also been reported to help with weight management while quitting smoking.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.