One of the cornerstones of Yoga is the regulation of breathing, and that’s why it’s a great tool for ex-smokers to give up the habit for good. Yoga poses involve abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing, or shallow breathing via thoracic and clavicular methods. All of these engage your entire oxygen channel an provide improved supply of blood and oxygen to vital organs which keeps them rejuvenated.
Whiele you may think that yoga is only giving your muscles a much-needed workout, it’s in fact also working on your brain and heart, improving your inhalation and exhalation. The purpose of yogic breathing exercises is to regain control of the breath, correct errors in the way we breathe and increase oxygen intake. If your goal is to regain your lung capacity after years of smoking, then yoga is an amazing way to get there while also improving your overall health.
Thanks to the emphasis on breathing many asanas strengthen the lower body, upper body, core and back muscles, but also increase oxygenation and lung capacity, helping you beat that stressful feeling. Increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain releases enzymes that give you that calm after a workout. A number of asanas promote healthy breathing and helps you kick the habit more effectively by giving your lung-power back. Here are some which actually work for ex-smokers.
Kapal Bhati Pranayama
Improve blood circulation, rejuvenate the central nervous system, and give your brain cells a boost with this breathing technique. It’s known to help calm the mind right in the morning, and also clears the nadis (or energy channels in your body) which helps resist the urge of smoking.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
The ideal asana to help you release accumulated stress, and purify the energy channels in your body. This helps clear up the pathway for the oxygen to your brain and other vital organs. Oxygenation is known to improve after performing this pranayama, so the Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is great for those with respiratory problems. It helps n regaining full capacity of your lungs, countering the effects of years of smoking, and also protecting your body from side effects of de-addiction.
The triangle pose stretches and strengthens various parts of the body, but one of the overlooked aspects is the way it improves your shallow breathing through the chest or thorax. With practice the amount of oxygen inhaled is substantially increased and the mind also becomes calmer as a result. By reducing anxiety and stress, it helps you fight your impulse to smoke.
The shoulder stand puts your entire body in upside down mode, thus giving your brain more blood. This releases a calming effect and helps your better hold your nerves when you feel like smoking. In some cases it is also known to relieve mental stress and the depression state, further eliminating the urge to light up.
The Bridge pose not only gives your glutes a deep stretch but also opens up the lungs, improving the flow of oxygen to the body. As a result the mind is calmer, and your lungs get more oxygen to supply to the rest of your body. This stillness is a great way to help fight the urge.
Arguably the most famous pose in yoga, the “Corpse pose” is always a way to finish your session and allows your body to finish at a calming, meditative state after the intense workout. This state helps keep your mind at rest, allows stressful thoughts to dissipate and relieves blood pressure and anxiety.
Eventually quitting smoking is all about beating the pattern of taking the easy way out when in a stressful situation or when sitting idle. It’s just as simple to take a short break to do a breathing exercise instead of lighting up a cigarette. And the benefits far outweigh the momentary pleasure from the smoking. Control the urge and use yoga to help you get rid of those feelings which let you give in to the urge.