Off the Mat Yoga

Confessions of a Bad Yogi…

I have a confession to make, my Bad Yogi crew…

My name is Maggie and I’m an (ex) Smoker!

WHAT?! Gasp! Nooooo! Not the yoga teacher! How could she?! Disgusting!

Okay, I get it, to most people smoking is a disgusting habit that they’ll never understand, but I was in love. I first starting smoking at the age of 14, not all that uncommon in the small town I grew up in but I didn’t form a habit with cigarettes until I was around 16 years old. By then, I was hooked.

Everyone was doing it, family & friends alike and I was a REBEL (even though I didn’t have to be, my parents were super cool and open) and I LOVED smoking. I loved taking a moment to myself, stepping outside and finding myself in a still moment of inhale and exhale…oh wait…that sounds a lot like pranayama doesn’t it?…Well, because it TOTALLY is! Smoking was my form of breath work, meditation, going inward before I knew that was a THING. I used it as a moment to break from the day, to come back to myself if I was stressed, anxious or angry.

ME during college in Los Angeles

I thought I was super badass. I did have awesome hippie hair.

I also used it as a social tool to engage in and carry conversations with friends or even as an anti-social tool to step away from the chaos of a moment.

I NEVER thought I would quit. Even though I practiced a healthy lifestyle in so many other ways, smoking was my vice. I would tell myself,

“Hey Self! You do yoga, you eat pretty good most of the time, you drink normal amounts of alcohol for a 20-something year old, you’re healthy, so smoke anyways – you’re doing enough to counter it!”

Even as I entered Yoga Teacher Training in October of last year I thought I would just be the smoking yoga teacher, people would get over it. So I didn’t even TRY to quit…that’s how much I LOVED it.

Then mid-October something came over me and without thought I decided that I was no longer going to smoke in my car. WOAH. I felt guilty showing up to YTT smelling like cigarette and for my little fur baby to have to ride in a car that smelled like an ashtray.

Then by Thanksgiving I had dramatically cut back. I didn’t tell myself to, I just did it. I craved them less and less, I started NOTICING the difference my body felt daily, but especially during yoga practice, I was able to take my physical practice farther than ever and my stamina was amazing!

By Christmas break on a visit back home I had stopped purchasing cigarettes and was only smoking socially around friends who smoked. (Becoming the cigarette bum I had always despised!) And honestly, the after effects weren’t great, I was feeling sick to my stomach or light headed after a smoke.

I finally made a decision that I was going to quit on January 1…who the heck was I?! In just a few short months I just magically decided, subconsciously for the most part, to quit a habit I had had for 8+ years that months before I had no intention of quitting.

And so I quit, thanks to yoga. #YogaSavesTheDay … #AndMyLife

P.S. … Now, let me tell you this: In the one month since I quit, it’s not always been easy, and I know for many years to come it will not always be easy. But it is getting easier every day!

I have and may slip up again and hit a friend’s cigarette at a bar after 3 glasses of wine…it happens! I’m not judging myself because what I have accomplished is LIFE-CHANGING and I’m so grateful that my body told me what it wanted even though my stubborn mind did not want to agree.

For anyone out there struggling with a seemingly unbreakable habit – know that your body and mind are strong and as cliche as it sounds, when you are ready and able somehow, magically, your body or mind will just say okay…we’re done. Sometimes it takes a little extra work, sometimes it’s as easy as pie. Either way, find the people in your life (like my YTT’s and family, love you all!) that will support your efforts and remember, no JUDGEMENT. You are HUMAN!


Over to you: What habits are you trying to kick to the curb in 2016?


Title Image Photo Credit: Jessica McGougan

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  1. Alyssa Ammirato

    Alyssa Ammirato

    February 6, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Love that you shared this story. I was a smoker too, for a loooong time, and sadly beginning at an even younger age than you! But I relate to this so much—it was my peaceful moment, my step-outside-and-breathe “pranayama” before I knew I could do that without smoking too. It was a social tool and a calming mechanism…until I finally learned how to harness the full power of yoga to accomplish those same things in a much healthier manner.

    Congrats on quitting! I’m coming up on my second year anniversary of my “quit date,” though it hasn’t been a seamless or simple two years. But I’m better off today than I was for a really long time, and you are too! Keep up the awesome work and ENJOY your newfound health!

    1. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Alyssa, thank you SO much and congrats to you too!

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    February 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Ok this made me decide to try again! I’m 29 and have been smoking since I was 13/14…I’ve tried to quit several times in the past 6 months, and I cut back a lot( with a new role of not smoking in the house) but it seems like I just can’t quit…but this gave me hope, I’ll definitely keep on trying!

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      Erin Motz

      February 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      this makes me SO happy, Lety!! keep us updated as you progress 🙂

    2. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      AMAZING! You can do it!! One day at a time! xoxo

    3. Chelsea


      February 9, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Bad Yogis unite!

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    February 6, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I love this Maggie. Even though I’m not a smoker I feel it’s a story I can share and may help someone. I look forward to your next fun, insightful post.

    1. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks Nita! You are AWESOME! xoxo

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    February 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    This was an amazing article! It resonated with me so deeply it gave me goosebumps. I’m also an ex smoker and I’ve found that my practice has changed for the better, and much quicker, then it had been when I smoked. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you good luck with quitting. It’s a long road, but remember … a habit (even good ones) forms after 28 days, that’s it! You’ve got this, you’re a badass!

    1. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 9, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      It makes me smile from ear to ear to hear that other yogi’s resonate with my story! Thanks for the support and love! XO

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    February 8, 2016 at 1:31 am

    I quit smoking almost two years ago, after 12 years of smoking. One day I decided that the pack I have in my pocket will be the last one. And it was!
    I think our minds and body tell us when they are ready to make a decision like that. 🙂 Quitting smoking for me was just as easy as starting it. 😉

    1. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 9, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Veki – That’s amazing! So amazing what the mind & body are capable of!

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    February 9, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing Maggie! I am *gasp* still a smoker. I quit a few years ago but returned with the rule of only organic cigarettes. haha. I drink green smoothies daily. I eat vegan/gluten free. Yoga. Meditation. Today marks two weeks no booze. I started to see that I was overindulging with my nightly white wine and decided I needed a detox from my Chardonnay to find more mindful ways to deal with stress. I appreciate your honesty and it plants that seed for me to kick this last vice. It’s hard to not beat yourself up when you are able to make so many healthy life choices but also have not-so-healthy habits.

    1. Maggie Christensen

      Maggie Christensen

      February 9, 2016 at 10:00 pm

      Kristin, I am totally with you! I have had to learn how to be mindful about EVERYTHING in my life, alcohol, smoking, food, etc. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits – but look at all the AMAZING things you do for your body already. I think AWARENESS and BALANCE are everything, it all will come with time and you sound like you are beyond on the right track for what YOU need!

      Lots of Love!! xo

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