I started teaching myself yoga at home with the use of an online website in December of 2011. I know what you are thinking, that is not a lot of time to have been practicing, but believe me, I had no idea the immense impact this "simple" practice would have on my life, internally and externally.
I have been smoking cigarettes for approximately 14 years. It started off like it does for everyone else, I just felt cool smoking, a hobby that quickly turned into the constant question: "Do I have enough cigarettes to last through the night and morning until I can get to the store?" Quickly the cool thing to do turned into a full blown habit that took control of my life faster than I could inhale. I would like to say I attempted to quit many times but I can't honestly make that statement. The attempts I made were not really attempts, they were a way to get people off my back for a little while, making them think I was "trying" to quit. It seemed everyone in my life smoked and the ones who didn't were telling me to quit. I was being pulled in two different directions not really sure of where I wanted to be. Like teetering on a fence waiting for someone else to push me one way or the other.
When I started the amazing practice of yoga I quickly realized the importance of breath. I did not really have an issue during my practice with breathing, I wasn't "out of breath" the whole time but I could tell something was not allowing me to release and let go like my mind, body and spirit wanted me to. I felt constricted. I knew at this moment I wanted to quit. It was the first time in my 14 years as a smoker that I wanted to quit for myself. It was a pretty amazing feeling to want to quit. I felt like the handcuffs were slowly breaking off of my wrists. I could breathe deeper just at the thought of finally ridding myself of the habit.
After a trip to Walmart and just 12 days of nicotine patches, I found myself smoke-free and loving it. I practiced yoga daily and each day I could feel an opening within my lungs, within my being, my mind and my spirit. I felt open everywhere. I no longer felt constricted. After about a month I started feeling like superwoman. I could accomplish anything, anything at all! It was amazing how much of a difference it made in my life. The cravings were few, even at the beginning, but when they came I was very mindful about every sensation in my body. I acknowledged the hold it still was trying to have on me but was also able to overcome it. Breathwork, practicing mindfulness and yoga were the tools I used to accomplish one of the biggest things in my life.
This Sunday August 12, 2012 marks 6 complete months of being smoke-free!