New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking with Yoga

At the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, I interview people with mental illnesses for research studies. I always offer to take a break during the interview. I’ve noticed people often use that time to smoke a cigarette. Indeed, people with mental illnesses are much more likely to smoke (Cook, Wayne, & Kafali, 2014). The rate of smoking is so high among people with mental illnesses that they smoke more than half of all cigarettes in the United States (Grant, Hasin, & Chou, 2004). This is concerning from a public health perspective because of the many health problems associated with smoking. In my other posts, I’ve explored how yoga can benefit mental health, so I wondered: can yoga also help people to stop smoking?

Carim-Todd, Mitchell and Osken (2013) looked at 14 studies testing yoga and meditation as a way to quit smoking. They thought that mindfulness practices could help people manage cigarette cravings, have a better way to deal with stress, and have more positive moods. These studies looked at different styles of yoga and meditation and people at different stages of quitting (most included active smokers while some looked at people who were intending to quit). All of the studies found a positive effect of mindfulness: some people smoked fewer cigarettes a day, some gained an intention to quit, and five studies reported people were more likely to quit entirely.

This research adds to other findings that have supported the positive effects of yoga on wellbeing and mental health. It shows that mindfulness practices not only boost mood and lower stress – they can even help people to break difficult habits such as smoking. It also illustrates the importance of having affordable community yoga classes, like those offered at Maha, so that anyone can have the opportunity to improve their mental and physical health.

Mental Health Spotlight provided by Katie Pizziketti in collaboration with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. 

The Temple University Collaborative receives funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number #90RT5021-02-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This article does not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.