Beyond Smoking: How a Yoga Practice and Meditation Disappeared a Harmful Habit

posted by Shaida Alizadeh

Every large and small event in my life, for the past 14 years, was punctuated by a cigarette. It was a huge part of my lifestyle, a hobby, stress relief, a part of my identity, the best way to procrastinate, a club for cool kids, a treasured pastime. I loved smoking.

When I decided to quit this time around, I told myself that I have quit other things that I have loved — I was both very sentimentally attached and very addicted to cigarettes, but it was time to walk away.

It was a break-up, a two-weeks notice, an I’m sorry but I am not doing this to myself anymore.

Plus, cigarettes are a waste of money and time — which I always seem to never have enough of.

A few things fell into place to where I felt that I was ready to quit. First, I incidentally struck up a conversation with a co-worker about my smoking, an ex-smoker himself confided he was able to quit with Chantix. This conversation instilled the hope to overcome a previously impossible habit to break. Looking inward, I also felt that I had managed enough of the stress in my life and that I was in a pretty good place. I had a yoga practice that did not at all lend itself to smoking — but the exact opposite — deep, luxurious, awesome breath. I undertook Inspire Yoga’s #21daySIT meditation challenge on Instagram, where I learned how to use the breath to calm and settle the mind. Meditation freed up some space for me to think, listen to myself, address my stress, and led me to seriously consider smoking cessation. This combined with every person ever who gave me grief about smoking: asked me when I was going to quit, reminded me of the negative health consequences, and were concerned for my ultimate well-being. I talked to my doctor about the medication Chantix, which would ultimately make this an achievable goal and a comfortable process.

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I spoke with people about my smoking cessation: ex-smokers who have been through the same process, current smokers mulling over smoking cessation, and non-smokers. Talking about not smoking instead of smoking was a perfectly effective strategy. I turned to people who were happy to keep me focused and on track. I rewarded myself with pizza (that was the best part of this), drank a lot of water, chewed a lot of gum, and did a lot of yoga. I downloaded an anti-smoking app on my phone with tracked my progress by health milestones, money saved, and cigarettes not smoked. At 28 days since my quit date, I feel that I am out of the woods. I fiend for a cigarette every once in a while, especially when I want to cope with stress, but the moment passes and I move on.

My outlook towards smoking has changed. Foremost, I realized what a grip it had on me and I am happy to be free it. I have failed multiple times at quitting before. I did the research. I tried. I failed. I tried something else, I failed again. I always knew it was something that needed to get done. It is also something I needed to outgrow.

I utilized every resource available, rigged everything in my favor, accepted support and encouragement, realized it was okay, and finally slew my nicotine addiction.

Shad began practicing yoga in 2013. She enjoys, more than anything spending time with Roxy, her dog.

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