Has "stop smoking" or "quit biting my nails" appeared on your list of New Year's resolutions as long as you can remember? No matter how much you want to put an end to your bad habits, taking the first step is often a little challenging. Luckily, yoga can help you finally kick your bad habits and embrace healthier choices.
Living in the Moment is the Key to Beating a Bad Habit
Meditation, an integral aspect of your yoga practice, will help you avoid urges and cravings that may have kept you from reaching your goal in the past. As you meditate, you'll clear your mind of worries, concerns and urges and focus only on your breathing and the way your body feels at that exact moment. At the end of a meditation session, you might just discover that your craving has subsided.
Stress Relief is an Important Benefit of Yoga
Stress is a crucial factor in the development of bad habits or addictions. When you feel anxious or stressed, you're more likely to light up a cigarette or eat an entire pizza yourself. Yoga decreases stress naturally, eliminating your need to seek comfort in smoking, overeating, drinking or other things that aren't good for you.
In addition to meditating, you'll also reduce stress by manipulating your body to master complex yoga poses and practicing breath control through deep breathing. As you perform each pose, you'll breathe in deeply, engaging your diaphragm, then slowly release the breath. Deep breathing helps calm your mind, lowers stress and reduces your blood pressure and heart rate.
Yoga Can Help You Control Bad Habits Big and Small
Although yoga is very effective in controlling the impulse to smoke or overeat, it's equally effective in controlling other habits, such as nail-biting. Boredom, frustration, impatience and dissatisfaction are key reasons that people perform body-focused repetitive behaviors like biting their nails or picking at their skin, according to a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Yoga offers a healthier way to cope and may decrease unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings.
How You Can Use Yoga Effectively to Avoid Temptation
It's easy to revert to old habits when you're facing a stressful situation at work. If you want to center yourself, reduce your stress and quiet your urges, try these strategies:
Yoga offers the ideal way to overcome your addictions and gain control of your life. Attending class not only helps you ensure that you're performing poses correctly, but also offers a nurturing, supportive environment that can enhance your yoga experience. Not sure which class is right for you? Contact us and we'll suggest a few options.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: The Impact of Emotions on Body-
Focused Repetitive Behaviors, 3/15
Journal of Women’s Health: Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Smoking Cessation in Women, 2/12
Yoga Journal: Yoga for Addiction Recovery, 10/11/12
Hailing from East County San Diego, Kaleen Moran (she/her) is an English major at Cuyamaca College and a young yoga enthusiast. Her free time is spent out in nature, whether her feet are on the trail, nose is in a book, or notebook and pen are in her hands. She finds solace in mountain tops, her dogs and cat, books and poetry, good vegetarian food, and the loving embraces of her family and friends.
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