Could Downward Dog Help Kick Pack-A-Day Habit?

What do yoga and cigarettes have in common?
Researchers at Creighton University are hoping more than we think.
They believe a few basic poses could be the key to helping the millions of people addicted - quit. Serese Cole shows us how.

"I've been smoking since I was 16," said LaVonne Feller.

Now, more then 50 years later, Feller is breathing fresh air into her lungs. She's tried just about everything to stop and hopes yoga will finally help her kick the habit.

Amy Mayer's one of the Creighton researchers looking to see if yoga can help smokers quit.

Participants learn the basics - a few poses, meditation and breathing.

"Cravings typically last about two minutes so we teach them how to do a two minute breathing meditation to help them through that craving and maybe push off having that one cigarette," said Mayer who is the assistant professor of the Department of Occupational Therapy.

But, not everyone in the study will be learning these techniques. Some participants only take a class - which focuses on recognizing and controlling the triggers. Others just do yoga. A third group - the one LaVonne's in - do both.

"A lot of people rely on cigarettes to help them during stressful times, so that's one of the reasons we decided to try to pair yoga with the Commit To Quit class because it can really help people deal with and manage stress during the process, said Mayer.

The goal is to see which group has the most success. Instructors believe yoga will help.

"People have to unlearn this behavior they've taught themselves - but they also have to learn how to cope," said Shavonne Washington-Krauth, Tobbaco Cessation Coordinator.

Each week, all of the participants are asked to cut back on their smoking by at least 10-percent. By week five, they set their quit date. By week eight - the goal is be cigarette-free.

After three weeks...

"I've cut down a lot," said LaVonne.

She's seeing success and is hoping to soon be able to put her cigarettes out for good.

Creighton is still looking for participants. If you are interested - there are a few simple requirements: Currently smoke at least five cigarettes a day, willing to try yoga, at least 19-years-old and able to attend eight group counseling sessions. There is a link to Creighton's Research Participant Information webpage attached to this story.

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