Driving to class last night, I found myself at a long red light. A quick glance to my left, and I noticed that the other driver was taking this time to get her cigarette going. Watching her light up I was reminded as to my observations on smoking.
I was very fortunate — I grew up in a household with a smoker. My mother loved her Kool cigarettes. We kids, all 5, hated how dirty they were and how they smelled, not to mention they seemed to take her attention away from us. Even as we got older and smoking became “cool” for our age groups, none of us picked up the habit. (Of course, we all picked up the ice cream habit, but that would be for another entry.)
In her defense, my mother grew up in a time when everyone smoked. It was not only acceptable, but sexy. Who could forget Paul Henreid’s “Shall we have a cigarette on it?” proposal to Bette Davis at the end of Now Voyager? Smoking was reinforced everywhere back then, even by doctors.
Taking smoking apart, I believe that under the nicotine addiction, there’s deep belly breathing that’s so attractive.
The slow long inhale with an extended exhale through the nose; taking a mini-break from work, or leaving others even at fun events to go outside and “burn one.” The calmness smoking brings to a difficult situation may really be more about taking a pause and breathing.
If you smoke, try taking a Deep Belly Breath break instead. Before you light up, take time to breathe first. You may not totally kick the habit, but it might help you cut back a little.
If you don’t smoke, think about adding a Deep Belly Breath habit anyway.
Attaching an action to something you already routinely do, is a great way to develop a healthy habit. Sitting at a red light is the perfect time to sprinkle yoga into your life off the mat with very little effort. When you breathe deeply in your car you can watch your seat belt expand at the lap — your shoulder strap will move as you work your breath up to the top of your lungs. Reverse from top, middle to bottom as you exhale and your seatbelt will track your progress.
Why not develop this yoga habit at red lights — after all, you’re already breathing!