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Published on June 24, 2015

The Quitting Pose

June 24, 2015

woman sitting in grass meditatingA new study reveals yoga and other meditation-based therapies may be an effective weapon in the battle to stop smoking.

A growing body of research suggests mind-body practices have an abundance of health benefits, such as reducing back pain, relieving arthritis symptoms, lowering blood pressure, and easing anxiety and depression. It may be time to add another benefit to the list: smoking cessation.

Breathe In, Smoke Out

A review funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and published in 2013 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that mind-body practices may make it easier for people to stop smoking. The study examined 14 clinical trials involving treatment of nicotine addiction using either applied yoga, breathing techniques or meditation. Five of the trials reported smoking abstinence rates between 21 and 56 percent following treatment, six of the trials found a reduction in cigarette cravings, and two trials reported up to a 26 percent decrease in the number of cigarettes smoked per day. All 14 studies demonstrated positive results of some kind.

But how do mind-body practices actually help people abstain from smoking? Another recent study released in the Journal of Women’s Health may provide an important clue. Researchers found that 41 percent of female smokers enrolled in twice-weekly sessions of Vinyasa yoga for eight weeks were able to achieve smoking abstinence for one week following the program. These women also reported lower rates of anxiety and improved perceptions of their own health.

Success Without Stress

Cognitive health may be the missing link between mind-body practices and smoking cessation. Meditation, focused breathing and yoga can reduce anxiety, which is both a common trigger of cigarette cravings and a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Mind-body practices may also aid in smoking cessation by making people feel healthier, which can foster a desire to continue feeling healthy. If you’re trying to quit smoking, practicing meditation-based therapies may help reduce the frequency of cravings and make the quitting process less stressful.

Laughter Yoga: It’s No Joke

Hasya yoga, also known as laughter yoga, is gaining popularity in the United States. Not surprisingly, laughter yoga involves incorporating laughter into traditional yoga practice. Laughter yoga clubs can now be found in approximately 200 locations across the United States.

According to Laughter Yoga International, laughter yoga helps reduce stress, strengthen the immune system, fight heart disease and diabetes, relieve migraine headaches, treat menstrual disorders, and even protect against cancer. While little clinical research has been done on laughter yoga, the Arthritis Foundation does endorse laughter yoga as a complementary treatment for chronic arthritis pain.

Interested in finding a yoga class near you? We offer fitness classes in Sycamore and Sandwich!

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