Yoga can be a great tool for managing stress and anxiety as you prepare to quit smoking, during your quit journey, or after you've been smokefree. The exercises in this sequence are aimed at helping to calm the mind, relax the body, and find a mindful state in which you can focus on being smokefree.
Try this sequence daily or as much as you can. Do your yoga practice on a yoga mat or folded towel. “Go at a comfortable pace and be kind to yourself as you practice with patience and focus,” instructor Keely Garfield recommends. Most important: Take 5 deep breaths in and out while in each pose. Take your time and enjoy the practice. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.
Inhale: To take a deep breath in
Exhale: To push air out of your lungs
Open/Opening: To release and stretch
1. Constructive Rest Pose
Lie down on the ground, bend your knees so they touch, and place your feet at the edges of your yoga mat. Put your hands on your lower stomach and pay attention to your breath as you feel your body rise and fall without controlling or directing it in any way. See if you can notice your breath moving in any other parts of your body, such as your chest, nostrils, back, or anywhere else.
2. Supine Upward Facing Mountain Pose
Extend your legs straight down along your mat as you reach your arms overhead behind you. Keep the legs together, big toes touching as you continue to reach with your arms in the opposite direction. Notice the slight arch this produces in the lower back and the opening of the chest.
3. Cat/Cow Pose
From all fours, breathe in as you arch your back and look up, lifting your heart, and rolling back your shoulders. Exhale as you round your back and look toward your bellybutton. Try to get your chin to your chest. Repeat this motion as many times as you’d like, moving with the natural rhythm of your breath.
4. Downward Facing Dog Pose
From the Cat/Cow pose, tuck your toes underneath you and push up, straightening your legs slowly while reaching your arms forward. Keep your hands on the ground and send your hips into the air. Feel your rib cage expand and lift off of the stomach area. Roll your shoulders back to feel the stretch. Move your toes up and down to get comfortable.
5. Standing Forward Bend Pose
Walk your feet forward from Downward Facing Dog, keeping your hands on the ground. Fold your chest over your legs. If your hands do not reach the ground, bend your knees a little. Quiet your mind by focusing on your breath, with easy inhales and exhales.
6. Upward Facing Mountain Pose
Slowly roll up to stand. Reach your arms up over your head, as straight as you can, reaching high. Sink your feet into the ground and take five deep breaths.
7. Triangle Pose – Right and Left
From mountain pose, put your hands on your hips and step each foot out to the side. Turn your back foot slightly in and align your feet with each other. Bend at your waist and place your bottom hand on the floor by your foot or let it rest on your shin or a block. Reach your top arm high. Look to the ceiling, if you can. Breathe in and out. Then repeat on the other side.
8. Warrior 1 Pose – Right and Left
From Triangle pose, lift your chest and bend your leg over your front ankle. The other leg should still be straight behind you, with that foot at a 45-degree angle. Raise your arms up into the air, tuck your tailbone, look up, and breathe. Then repeat on the other side.
9. Crescent Lunge Pose – Right and Left
Ground your legs, continue to reach up, and arch your back. Lift your chest by reaching your arms up and back. Feel a slight back bend. Then repeat on the other side.
10. Child’s Pose
Sit down on the floor, knees wide and toes touching, and bend over your legs. Feel the stretch in your back as your body softens down onto the ground.
11. Bridge Pose
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your hands down by your hips. Inhale, and as you exhale, gently lift your hips into the air as you press your arms and feet down.
12. Reclined Cobbler’s Pose
Lay on the floor and let the bottoms of your feet touch. This pose will open the chest, shoulders, and hips and make it easier to inhale.
13. Complete Relaxation Pose
Lay flat on the ground, feet out in front of you and arms by your side. Feel the weight of your body as you let go into the support of the ground.
As you make this sequence part of your weekly routine, you may feel your breath getting stronger. Let it remind you why you are on this smokefree path, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
This sequence was designed by Keely Garfield, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist and Reiki Master in New York City.