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 AngelesI 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