Among the various mind-body approaches out there, yoga and meditation-based therapies show the most promise for helping people to quit smoking, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s NCCAM Clinical Digest in January 2014. While more studies are needed, a research review of 14 clinical trials by investigators from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found positive results from the practices of yoga, meditation and breathing exercises for people wanting to kick the smoking habit.
In another small pilot study, researchers from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, compared the results of 55 women smokers who were assigned to either an 8-week vinyasa yoga program or a general health and wellness program. At the end of the treatment, women in the yoga group had a higher abstinence rate. They were also more successful at remaining smoke-free 6 months later; however, the difference between groups after 6 months was not statistically significant.
Advantages of complementary and alternative methods for smoking cessation include no need for drug therapy, no unwanted side effects and the fact that subjects may enjoy other positive benefits. For example, in the Brown University study, women in the yoga group experienced less anxiety and an improved perception of health and well-being compared with control group members.
The review study was published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2013; 132 , 399– 410). The yoga study is available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3304243/. Resources to help smokers quit are available at http://smokefree.gov.