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International Yoga Day 2019: 5 Yoga Asanas To Help You Quit Smoking

The United Nations has associated the theme 'Climate Action' with this year's International Yoga Day, which will be celebrated on 21st June worldwide.

From improving your physical health to your mental health, practising yoga is undoubtedly good for your overall health. Yoga helps build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and your body and help reduce chronic pain. Regular practice of yoga can help reduce lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia [1] .

Some of the major benefits of regularly practising yoga are increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, balanced metabolism, weight reduction cardiovascular and circulatory health, improved athletic performance and various others [2] . Apart from the physical benefits, yoga also has several mental benefits [3] such as creating mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness etc.

One of the other major benefits of yoga we will focus on today is the impact it has on quitting the habit. To shake off the habit of smoking requires a whole lot of iron will and harshness, as nicotine is one of the most addictive substances used by mankind [4] . From simple respiratory diseases to life-limiting strokes and the most dreaded forms of cancer, the number of ailments it gifts is one too many.

Smoking can calm the mind and relieve the person of stress and anxiety temporarily, making it one of the reasons people decide to smoke. However, by practising the below-mentioned yoga poses, studies support that it can help you quit the habit [5] . It can also help to manage the withdrawal symptoms which include irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia and headache.

Yoga Poses That Help Quit Smoking

1. Kapalbhati pranayama

The term Kapalbhati literally means a shining forehead, which is a sign of a healthy body. Practising this pose helps your body detoxify itself by expelling the toxins through the outgoing breath. Apart from improving the blood circulation, this particular form of yoga rejuvenates the nervous system and brain cells. It calms the mind and helps resist the urge to smoke [6] .

How to

Step 1: Sit comfortably, keep your spine erect, and place your hands on the knees. And your palms should be open to the sky.

Step 2: Take a deep breath.

Step 3: When you exhale, pull your stomach as much as you comfortably can. Pull the navel towards the spine. Keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the muscles contract.

Step 4: Relax the navel and abdomen. Air will flow in automatically to your lungs.

Step 5: Repeat it 20 times to complete one round of Kapalbhati pranayama.

Step 6: Relax with eyes closed and feel the sensations of your body.

2. Bhujangasana

Also known as cobra pose, bhujangasana gets its name as it resembles a cobra just before its attack. It is a posture usually recommended for people with respiratory ailments. The posture helps expand the chest, reduces fatigue and improves blood circulation. Thereby aiding in relieving stress and lowers the urge to smoke [7] .

How to

Step 1: Lie down on your stomach and keep your legs close together and toes flat on the ground.

Step 2: Put your palms beside your shoulder and let the forehead rest on the ground.

Step 3: Inhale deeply and raise your head up to the naval region. Try to see the roof.

Step 4: Maintain the position up to 60 seconds. Inhale and exhale deeply throughout.

Step 5: Come back to the original position while exhaling deeply.

Step 6: Repeat the process 3-5 times.

3. Sarvangasana

One of the most beneficial yoga asanas, the shoulder stand in sarvangasana is believed to help the functioning of all organs. It can relieve stress and combat depression, which is linked with that of the effectiveness of the pose to help reduce the urge to smoke. It helps the brain cells by improving the blood circulation to the region [8] .

How to

Step 1: Lie down on your back with hands by your side.

Step 2: Raise your legs slowly to a 90-degree angle.

Step 3: Lift your buttocks and back to remain high up on your shoulder.

Step 4: Support your back with your hands. Your weight should be supported by your shoulders and arm and not your head and neck.

Step 5: Straighten your legs and spine by pressing the elbows down to the floor and keep the legs firm. Raise your heels, then point your toes up and try to press the chin against the chest.

Step 6: Try to maintain the posture for more than 30 seconds.

Step 7: Slowly return to the original position. For this, lower your knees to the forehead. Bring down your hands to the floor, palms facing down. Bring your spine down slowly. Lower the legs to the floor.

Step 8: Relax for 60 seconds before repeating the posture.

4. Shishuasana

Also known as the child pose, this pose help relax your body, calms the nervous system and relieves tension and stress. By relaxing your whole body and mind, the urge to smoke is naturally diminished, studies suggest [9] .

How to

Step 1: Sit on your heels.

Step 2: Bend forward and lower your forehead to the ground.

Step 3: Keep the hands on the floor alongside your body, palms facing up.

Step 4: Press your chest on the thighs.

Step 5: Return to original posture uncurling slowly.

5. Shavasana

The corpse pose is a deep, meditative state of rest, practised at the end of every yoga session. It might seem the simplest of all, but requires a whole lot of concentration. Shavasana help reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. It is also beneficial in rejuvenating your body and in turn help people with the habit of smoking limit the urge to constantly light a cigarette [10] .

How to

Step 1: Lie flat on your back.

Step 2: Let your legs and hands relax completely and place your legs apart. Keep arms alongside with your palms facing up.

Step 3: Relax your entire body. Pay attention to different parts of your body, one by one. Start with your right foot, move into the knee and then the thigh. Do it with the other leg as well.

Step 4: Breathe gently and deeply.

Step 5: After 10-20 minutes, roll on to your right side. With the support of your right hand, slowly sit up comfortably.

Step 6: Keep your eyes closed. Gently breathe in and out. Slowly open your eyes once you feel complete.

View Article References
  1. [1] Bock, B. C., Fava, J. L., Gaskins, R., Morrow, K. M., Williams, D. M., Jennings, E., ... & Marcus, B. H. (2012). Yoga as a complementary treatment for smoking cessation in women.Journal of Women's Health,21(2), 240-248.
  2. [2] Bock, B. C., Morrow, K. M., Becker, B. M., Williams, D. M., Tremont, G., Gaskins, R. B., ... & Marcus, B. H. (2010). Yoga as a complementary treatment for smoking cessation: rationale, study design and participant characteristics of the Quitting-in-Balance study.BMC complementary and alternative medicine,10(1), 14.
  3. [3] McIver, S., O'Halloran, P., & McGartland, M. (2004). The impact of Hatha yoga on smoking behavior.Alternative therapies in health and medicine,10(2), 22.
  4. [4] Carim-Todd, L., Mitchell, S. H., & Oken, B. S. (2013). Mind–body practices: An alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature.Drug and alcohol dependence,132(3), 399-410.
  5. [5] Elibero, A., Janse Van Rensburg, K., & Drobes, D. J. (2011). Acute effects of aerobic exercise and Hatha yoga on craving to smoke.Nicotine & Tobacco Research,13(11), 1140-1148.
  6. [6] Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Lichtman, K. L. (2001). Project EX: outcomes of a teen smoking cessation program.Addictive behaviors,26(3), 425-438.
  7. [7] Raub, J. A. (2002). Psychophysiologic effects of Hatha Yoga on musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary function: a literature review.The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine,8(6), 797-812.
  8. [8] Khanna, S., & Greeson, J. M. (2013). A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction.Complementary therapies in medicine,21(3), 244-252.
  9. [9] Ussher, M. H., Taylor, A. H., & Faulkner, G. E. (2014). Exercise interventions for smoking cessation.Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (8).
  10. [10] Bock, B. C., Rosen, R. K., Fava, J. L., Gaskins, R. B., Jennings, E., Thind, H., ... & Marcus, B. H. (2014). Testing the efficacy of yoga as a complementary therapy for smoking cessation: Design and methods of the BreathEasy trial.Contemporary clinical trials,38(2), 321-332.

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