Kick Butt…Cigarette Butts…Through Yoga…My Story

cigarette-ban

It takes on an average 5 attempts for a cigarette smoker before they succeed at quitting smoking.

Don’t get me wrong. I will be no hypocrite here, acting as though I’m some clean living, clean eating yogi, who never got “hooked” to anything unhealthy, because that would be inauthentic and frankly… annoying.

I had my first cigarette my freshaman year of college. Did I like it? Nope. I tried it over Thanksgiving break after a night out on Thanksgiving Eve after many alcoholic drinks. So, what did I do? I went and bought my first pack of Parliment Lights, and brought them back to college with me. LOL. I didn’t like it though? Go figure.

I know my preppy friends thought I was weird. “Why does she have cigarettes.. all of a sudden?” I mean, my friends partied and drank beer but cigarettes were off-limits. For some reason, they had no interest, so why did I? I thought it was cool. Edgy. Plus, I always strayed from the pack. That was me. It gave me a reason to go out on the stoop and socialize with the “bad kids” and the “outcasts” that the non-smokers probably would never speak too.

Oh, and it curbed my appetite. BINGO!

I became quite fond of the Parliment throughout college, smoking continuously during the day, making it a habit, and a way to lose weight. I couldn’t have a drink without instantly wanting to smoke. It was gross. I smelled. Dressed up blonde college girl walks into the bar reeking like leather, tobacco, Orbitz gum and a fruity Bath & Body Works spray. Gag.

8 years later, the smoking went on and off. I used it as a stress reliever when I hated my job. I even used the excuse “I was stressed” even when I wasn’t to make it seem OK to have one. I still linked smoking to drinking. They went hand in hand.

At the same time I still kept running…I ran half marathons, marathons, trail races and was doing yoga. What an oxymoron, or simply put A MORON.

How many of us are like this? We try to live healthy lifestyles but we are counterproductive by inhaling tobacco and chemicals slowly killing our bodies and killing those around us. Lighting up after an invigorating run, or a yoga class focusing on cleansing the body and creating space in our lungs through various breathing techniques. It’s pretty damn common.

8.5 months ago. I quit.

I was tired of being disgusted looking at cigarette butts on my back deck, and more so, I was tired of hiding the fact that I was a social smoker, I was ashamed. It didn’t make me feel good, my skin was horrible and my running was weak. Gone were the days that this was “cool.” I was mortified when someone would see my going into my work bag and they would get a glimpse of that blue and white carton. OMG.

So I didn’t quit cold turkey. I used my yoga.

Yes, I had been doing yoga for years, but now something different was happening.

Something switched in my mind one day during a yoga class and I now share this with my students. Many of us come to yoga quite honestly to get a workout, a good sweat, and some alone time. We want to learn a little bit of knowledge, not much, and get a sprinkling of spirituality, maybe an easy to relate to anecdotal story, a one minute Svasana, and then book it out of class, shower and have a glass of wine.

Sounds bout right?

So what switched?

I started to stray away from the mindset that I needed to do everything perfect on the mat. I realized, I WAS NOT PERFECT, I smoked, I drank, I had my highs and my lows…so why continue to try do everything perfect in yoga, the perfect poses, the most vinyasas…constantly gripping and grinding through my practice, and not letting my body just be?

What I am trying to say is that I starting viewing yoga from a more healthy perspective. I started coming to the mat viewing my body as a machine. I used the time on my mat to realign my self, refuel my body through my breath, and refuel my soul. I realized that in time the poses will come, and that this is a journey and to be easy on my self on and off of the mat.

Cigarettes were not fueling my body. Cigarettes were not easy on my body.

The yoga started to work. My time on my mat, brought my mind back to that place of health and even 60 minutes of practice, that healthy perspective carried with me until the next time I practiced again.

I know this is easier said then done, but yoga provided me with the balance I needed. My body was… finally… after 10 years, operating the way it was meant to. My metabolism regulated, my hunger was back, and the cravings, mental and physical slowly diminished.

Through the asanas and poses, your body moves in ways that release chemicals, i.e., serotonin the stuff that makes us happy, into our brains ( the same thing those cigarettes do). All that focus on the core in the postures, that dreaded Navasana, aka Boat pose, gets that serotonin pumping…it’s produced in the gut as well as the brain. All those twists your doing in class are compressing organs in the sides of the body, and as your release the compression from your twists all the metabolic waste and toxins that were hiding in there are released. This aids in digestion and detoxification.

Yoga works in strange ways. People are brought to their mats for different reasons and in time, transformation will happen.

So isn’t it worth a shot. Yoga may switch something in your brain too! I feel better than ever. Don’t give up. You can do anything your put your mind to.

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Whatever it takes. Check out this awesome video below:

Namaste,

Andrea

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