A few months ago I attended a mental health first aid workshop. Fascinating stuff, and it’s indispensable to be able to identify and support people that you encounter as we each precariously tread our paths through life. Being a yoga teacher who specialises in one on one practices for people, I thought it necessary to enroll.
Amongst the many fascinating facts and tools acquired that day, did you know that approximately 67% of people who suffer from anxiety or any other mental turbulence smoke? Well who doesn’t self medicate at times?
Observation is the key! Look at the posture of people that smoke. Legs often slightly apart, chest thrust forward and shoulders back to facilitate maximum inhalation of smoke, a deep draw and a looooooong exhalation whilst usually staring out at the smoke as it dissipates.
Body language is powerful stuff. This smoking posture is strong, one of confidence – and studies have shown that using strong (or timid for that matter) body language for at least two minutes is enough to make you feel that way – good thing to remember before your next job interview… eh?
The long exhalation mimics what we do in yoga – it lengthens your exhalation which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn relaxes you. The smoking itself is very meditative. Hand to mouth, and watching the smoke is no different to swimming laps in the pool, repetitive action coupled with a long exhalation – just less healthy!
Yes, tabacco is a stimulant – but it acts on the prefrontal cortex of the brain and if you are feeling agitated it actually calms you down.
This is not an advertisement to start smoking by no means, but an interesting fact that so many people with anxiety or any mental disorders smoke as a means to self medicate….
So all we need to do is swap the smoke for the mat!