Those seven days, my wife called me every day from the USA. Every day, she would tell me how fantastic she was feeling, what new things she learned, how much more she understands about life. Her joy and enthusiasm were contagious, but it was after all only about a yoga class. “She will get over it soon,” I thought. Little did I know about the “yoga infection”!
Soon after she completed her program, she urged me to attend this yoga program called “Inner Engineering” aka “Isha Yoga Program”. Like any obedient husband, I registered for an English program happening in Anna Nagar, about 20 km from where I live in Chennai. The thought, “Why do I need to go through this?” crossed my mind many times as the program date approached.
My relationship with my wife had been pretty good, except for one little habit of mine that made her uneasy from time to time – I was a chain smoker. Though I initially acquired this habit due to social pressure, eventually, I became quite fond of it. Soon, drinking alcohol in the evenings was also a part of it. Since I was young and working out daily, it didn’t really affect my health either. However, despite the amount of effort I was putting into physical training, it didn’t seem to yield much except to keep my lungs and muscles in basic working condition.
Upon my wife’s insistence, I had attempted to quit smoking a few times, but half-heartedly. None of those resolutions or techniques lasted more than a week. Anyway, to keep her happy now, I decided to attend this yoga program as well – just three hours daily for seven days. However, before and after every session in those seven days, I would treat myself with rounds and rounds of cigarettes without any qualms.
But something had shifted in those seven days. Initially, the smoking frequency reduced because if I wanted to do the practices twice daily, I had to stay without smoking for at least an hour before the practices. Within a few days of practices however, I started to notice that I no longer experienced the same pleasure in smoking anyway. But god! I didn’t want to leave it. However, I felt so wonderful after the practices that I could not drop the Shambhavi Mahamudra either. It kind of became a battle between Isha Yoga practice and my dear cigar – I didn't want to leave either of them.
But after 40 days of practices, I didn't feel like touching a cigarette ever again. Soon, drinking also dropped. Eight years on, I am now a teetotaler – even I don’t understand how it happened!
Looking back, I realize what a foolish habit smoking is – it didn’t even give me a high after a while. I just got addicted to it, and like it is for any other addiction, there was an ephemeral sense of fulfillment every time I smoked. And of course, the pleasure of social company that went with it made my mind a complete slave to this meaningless and hazardous indulgence. I feel so lucky that it dropped off effortlessly. I found my high elsewhere! I bow down to the masters who gave us the treasure of yoga.
A bit of advice to my smoker friends all over the world: If you are a smoker, don't quit – keep your yoga practice on and on... All the filth clinging on to you will drop automatically, without a trace. Enjoy real life!
– Karthik, Sales Director in an IT company, Nanganallur, Chennai
Editor’s Note: Find an Inner Engineering program near you.