Smoking is an extension of Yoga.

It invokes resentment and awe with the same intensity. Furthermore, it remains an enigma since most of the questions raised about it in wonderment remain unanswered. It is the worst of habits for most but a panacea to those who engage in it. For a myriad or reasons, people either engage in it or are disgusted by it. Having crossed the line to the other side and back, I believe I can shed some insight into this controversial topical issue of smoking.


Yoga is an ancient oriental art used as a relaxation technique by most in the modern world, and especially so in the recent past. The buzz around about it has ensured a constant stream of dedicated neophytes. From the testimonies echoed in praise of this technique, what I got was that Yoga is the utmost unwinding modus operandi. Allegedly, through yoga, calm, peace and balance of mind, body, and soul is attained by controlled breathing and measured movements accompanying deep meditation. These are all done in a well synchronized, well choreographed coordination of thoughts, breath and appendages.

Smokers in that respect also engage in Yoga activities which drives me to posit, but arguably so, that smokers derive the same satisfaction in the art of smoking as Yoga gives its practitioners. At first, it is usually the demeanor and mien of smokers that will attract the non smoking public to smoking. It is widely believed that smokers posses a high degree of self control and even power. This belief is an illusion that has seduced and taken many a prey and churned out many an addict. And addiction is a one way ticket to malignant cancer.

Many a smoker will however attest that the thing that has held them captive is neither the nicotine, nor the perceived power. But rather, it is the motions and emotions engendered by smoking. It is these motions and emotions that are responsible for the ultimate calming effect generated by smoking. The repetitive motions (read yoga) of smoking, keeps the body busy and useful while the mind retreats into the subconscious to sort out troubling issues. And as is the case in Yoga, Smoking is about controlling your breathing, i.e. taking a puff, holding your breath for a while, before finally letting the smoke out. Isn’t that Yoga, if you look beyond the smoke.

It is this resignation into the subconscious, and the accompanying controlled breaths that prompt deeper reflections. In this state, problems are spurn around, turned over, taken apart and put back together again but this time in terms of the way forward. The actual smoking here is just but a smoke-screen for all these underlying mental dialectics. That is the reason why when most people say, I need a cigarette, it is usually at a time they need to think. Smoking also allows one to literary blow off steam when angry or depressed.

These among more make for a credible case for the similarity between smoking and Yoga. The only problem being that smoking is the cheaper of the two in the short term, but could be fatal in the long term. The latter being the ultimate price for smoking. Going by the clientele base, smoking which is the better option for the short term prospects is the clear cut winner.

I don’t know whether this answers the question that my ex girlfriend, Flora, asked me when I used to smoke, but I hope it comes close. She asked, “Why do intelligent people smoke since you, more than any other person understand its effects on the body?”


12 thoughts on “Smoking is an extension of Yoga.

  1. Pingback: Smoking and Yoga « Closet Fascination

  2. I’d say yoga is cheaper even in the short term if talking about money, but if you were quantifying time, then you are right, smoking is much cheaper.

  3. The author misses most of the vital characteristics that define yoga. His insufficient analysis of yoga (as an art, life style, religion) leave gaping wholes in his comparison.

    If we equate yoga to smoking, we can than equate smoking to running as both have a rhythm. I suppose this is fine, though it seems silly to draw comparisons between to entirely unalike things such as yoga and smoking.

    • As a smoker who also practices yoga, I really understand what he’s trying to say. When I lived in Manhattan, I used to do yoga (before I started smoking.) Since then I have been trying to get back to doing yoga, but for various reasons (cost, time, etc) I have only just recently started. What he says is true, about it being the repetitive motions, the calming and distracting effects of the smoke itself, is what drew and holds me to smoking. I’ve realized that before, hopefully now this will help me apply this to yoga and help me quit the smoking.

  4. Wow. Well, I was wondering why, after 8 years of yoga and 40 years of not-smoking, I’ve suddenly developed an intense desire for a cigarette after a 90-minute yoga session. Not something I’ve been able to talk to other yogis about …!

  5. Nice writing style.I found out about your post from Google and enjoyed it tremendously. Have you been writing for long?Just the other day I recently created a blog myself and its been a very fun process. I’ve met some interesting friends since then although it is hard work at times! Once more, many thanks for your post!

  6. Jillian – I think you’d be a bit too hopeful to expect a more well-rounded argument than this one. Yes, yoga and smoking aren’t anything alike in their long-term effects on the body (in fact, they’re antitheses), but you have to admit that there are similarities in the personal intention behind both practices.

    Really well written and argued, Marvin. I have been dealing with a bit of cognitive dissonance lately, ever since I started slacking behind on my yoga practice and in turn began smoking a couple packs a week (something that I haven’t done in a long time). At first, I tried to trick myself into thinking that the two aren’t correlated, but I’ve realized that’s nowhere near true. This argument puts into words a lot of the things that have been floating around in my head.

    Yeah… I’ve got to get my yoga back on.

  7. Hi Becca

    I had taken a back seat on this one for a while to see what others have to say.

    I could have put it better when you wrote that “there are similarities in the personal intention behind both practices.”

    That is spot on.


  8. so very true…..I have been a Yogini for over 12 years and treat my body and mind really well,there are times that I feel rather imbalanced ,but I have to admit that I love to smoke ,for the very reasons stated in this article,I have not decided whether I want to continue but have to admit that at this time it simply gives me pleasure,I will however continue to practice yoga daily and drink 4 ounces of fresh wheatgrass.I am totally aware of the consequences and decide to continue until I am ready.I believe when an individual has grown tired and is ready to lay aside matters that cause harm,they will.In my past experience I decided one day that it was time to take a break from the harmful substances,I quit for 5 years.Taking up smoking was a very conscious decision as well

  9. Hi Petra,

    Very well said. I especially like this part…

    “I believe when an individual has grown tired and is ready to lay aside matters that cause harm,they will.”

    It is a very conscious decision to start and to stop smoking. I stopped when I decided to without much hassle.

    Thanks for your insightful comment.



  10. I’m a yogi, a (part-time) martial art student and musician (by profession). And smoking has been an issue all my adult life. I spend a lot of time for my body and most people are very surprised when they see a cigarette in my hand. The harm it causes is something advanced science might surprise you with. I don’t support smoking at all but western science hasn’t REALLY proved that smoking causes death yet, it has always used statistics.

    Again, I DO NOT support smoking but here’s an interesting piece of information. Some of the yogis I know back home in India are chain-smokers. Go figure. In fact smoking is often associated with the cliched wandering yogis’ in India, except they don’t really smoke cigarettes, but Beedis and, well you know what.

    I hope to quit smoking sometime soon. In mycase because I notice that it just generally clashes with my personality and in daily life squeezes vital energy out of me.

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