Letting Go of Cigarettes

When I tell my yoga students that years ago I smoked cigarettes, they seem surprised and don’t really believe it. But it’s true – for over 15 years I had a pretty “good” habit of about a pack and a half a day. Growing up in the 60’s it was not uncommon to smoke. Back in the day you could smoke on an airplane or in a restaurant. My whole family smoked up a storm. I started at age 16, thinking that I looked pretty cool. As I got older I loved how a gentleman would offer to light up my smoke. I smoked Benson and Hedges Light. No one talked about cancer or second hand smoke, there were TV ads that marketed to women, selling Virginia Slims, saying: “You’ve come a long way baby!” By the time I was 30 I was very addicted, I needed a cigarette often. I even needed one to go the bathroom!

Then in the 80’s the word came out that smoking was bad for you! Imagine that! I tried to quit several times but just couldn’t do it. I would gain so much weight that even my mother (who smoked) told me I should start up again because it wasn’t worth getting so fat! Thanks, Mom! ( She eventually quit when she was diagnosed with lung cancer).

Over those years of smoking I did try to stay fit. I ran 5K’s and had a cigarette after… I did aerobics weight training and smoked with the girls after. Cigarettes were a part of everything in my life.

Then came yoga. When I first tried the yoga breathing, I was surprised to find that my breath was so shallow. When I tried to take a deep breath, I couldn’t, there seemed to be a blockage, preventing me from breathing deeply. I knew that if I were continue to practice yoga, I would need to let go of smoking. I asked my yoga teacher for advice, and in a very non-judgmental way, he told me to just keep doing yoga and meditation and see what happens. So I did, I kept doing yoga, I kept meditating and I kept smoking. In fact I sometimes had a smoke in the middle of my personal yoga practice! In the Let It Go Yoga practice, first you work the right side of the body and then the left. Sometimes I’d do the right side, have a cig, then come back and do the left!! But I kept practicing.

Click Here to View Sue Anne & Jim’s Free Video and Receive the Many Benefits Diaphragmatic Breathing


When I would go to my weekly class I felt embarrassed that I smelled like cigarettes. I would shower and wash my hair before class, I’d brush my teeth and use my new found Neti pot (a container used to run water through the nostrils) and I’d scrape my tongue with a tongue cleaner. Inevitably though, my teacher would ask me how smoking was working out for me! I couldn’t hide it!

As I fell more and more in love with yoga, I knew I had to quit. I wanted to attend a yoga teacher training and knew that smoking was holding me back. I decided to do a 30 day meditation countdown to quit. Everyday for 30 days, after I had practiced my yoga, I sat for 20 minutes and visualized myself cigarette free. I would visualize the ways I would feel better, smell better and be free of this habit that had control over me. During the countdown I smoked less and less. On the last day of the count down, I prayed to be healed from ever smoking again. That night I flushed the remaining cigarettes in the toilet and went to bed, not knowing what to expect in the morning. I had told myself that, if I couldn’t quit after all of this, I would not pursue teaching yoga.

And that was the last time I ever had a cigarette. Something amazing happened that night. When I woke the next morning it was as if I never smoked. I did not have any cravings and they never came back. I did not gain any weight. I was truly a non-smoker.

I did go on and take that teachers training. That was 30 years ago and I haven’t had a cigarette since.

I remember that about a year after I had quit smoking I was practicing Ashtanga yoga with Pattabhi Jois, (this is a very vigorous style where you sweat profusely), I noticed that I smelled like cigarettes! Nicotine was wreaking out of my skin! I was detoxing those many years of tar and nicotine!

I know my lungs are clear now and my breath is full and deep. I feel so fortunate that my love for yoga trumped my cigarette addiction.


Click Here to View Sue Anne & Jim’s Free Video and Receive the Many Benefits Diaphragmatic Breathing


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, more than 15 out of every 100 U.S. adults, aged 18 years or older, smoked cigarettes. This means that an estimated 37.8 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

I have lots of compassion for my students who smoke. I have been there and I know how difficult it is to kick the habit. And, if they ask, I tell them what my teacher told me – just keep practicing your yoga and meditation, and see what shows up. Yoga adds awareness to your body, which adds awareness to all parts of your life. You just may find that smoking gets in the way of your yoga practice. It did for me!

Contributed by Sue Anne Parsons, CYT 500
Owner of Let It Go Yoga

Check out our video on diaphragmatic breathing, its a good place to start if you want to stop smoking or let go of of any unwanted habit.

2018-04-18T19:36:04+00:00 Let It Go Yoga Blog|0 Comments

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