Women enrolled in a smoking cessation program are more likely to quit if they also attend yoga classes, according to a study from Miriam Hospital Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine.

How Can Yoga Help Me Quit Smoking?
How Can Yoga Help Me Quit Smoking?

Look out smokin’ ladies! Cigarette smoking is THE leading cause of preventable death for American women. If that surprises you, the next sentence certainly won’t. To quit smoking isn’t easy. The good news is, taking yoga classes twice per week can increase your chances of quitting when you are also enrolled in a smoking cessation program.

55 Women & 2 Treatment Plans

In this yoga study, published in a 2012 issue of Women’s Health, 55 women followed one of two treatment plans:

Treatment Plan 1 – The first group of smoking women attended a group cognitive therapy session for smoking cessation once per week, led by an experienced psychologist.

Treatment Plan 2 – The researchers divided the second group of smokin’ women into two groups, A & B. Group A attended a 60-minute Vinyasa yoga class twice per week. Group B attended a wellness program twice per week.

The Beginner Vinyasa Yoga Class

To create the 60-minute beginner Vinyasa yoga class, qualified yoga instructors collaborated with the study’s researchers. What is Vinyasa yoga? In a Vinyasa yoga class, you move continuously as you flow from pose to pose in synchronicity with your breath, rather than resting between poses as you would in a Hatha yoga class.

Here is an example of a simple Vinyasa yoga series that flows from one pose to the next: start in plank pose –> chaturanga –> downward dog –> upward dog –> warrior 1.

Here is the sequence of the beginner Vinyasa yoga class in this yoga study:

  1. Pranayama breathing exercises and meditation – 5 minutes
  2. Vinyasa yoga – 45 minutes
  3. Closing postures and a final meditation – 10 minutes
What is Vinyasa yoga?
What is Vinyasa yoga?

The Results of the Yoga & Smoking Cessation Study

The researchers concluded, “Yoga may be an effective complementary therapy for smoking cessation among women.”

The results of the study show that after six months, Vinyasa yoga classes AND wellness classes are about equally as effective at helping women enrolled in a cessation program quit smoking. This is good news whether you like yoga or not.

Notably, the smokin’ women in the Vinyasa yoga group did reap some extra benefits. They reported significantly lower stress levels and had a greater improvement in general health.

Additionally, although the Vinyasa yoga group had a greater abstinence rate than the wellness group after the first week, the difference was no longer significant at 6 months.

To Be Honest…

To be honest, and this is my own unscientific interpretation of the results, the success could be due to the fact that you cannot smoke during a yoga or wellness program class. If you’re a smokin’ lady trying to quit smoking and you spend a good chunk of time in places where smoking is not permitted, you will, inevitably, smoke fewer cigarettes. And thus, have a lower amount of nicotine in your body, which would reduce the withdrawal symptoms such as craving a cigarette.

To back my theory up with some science — A study from the University of Pittsburg and Brown University published in The New England Journal of Medicine observed that when smokers consume less nicotine, by smoking low-nicotine cigarettes, and want to quit, quitting smoking is easier.

How Can Yoga Help Me Quit Smoking?

1. Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Smoking Cessation: Rationale, Study Design and participant Characteristics of the Quitting-in-Balance Study

2. Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Smoking Cessation in Women: Journal of Women’s Health

3. Less Nicotine Helps Smokers Want to Quit: Futurity.org