This is a re-post about what brought me to yoga. If you haven’t heard this story, you may be surprised!

People come to yoga for many reasons. In my experience, some people are wanting to be more flexible and strong in their bodies, while others are looking to calm their minds and find an inner connection with themselves.  Yoga practice brings together mind body and spirit … and allows each individual to grow, heal and strengthen in their own way.

My story about how I came to yoga is a bit different, and I wanted to share it with you…

When I began my training to become a coach in 2002, we did a lot of self exploration about our strengths, values and needs, and what makes each of us unique.  I also had a mentor coach to support me in my skill building and growth. It was a time for getting real and personal transformation!

One day we did a class on Integrity. We looked at what it meant to us and how we could bring that to our coaching.

As I sat back in the chair with my headphones on, I reached for a cigarette and lit up.

quit smokingI felt such a wave of guilt and disappointment in myself for being a smoker.

How could I coach others to be their best while I was feeling so uncomfortable about being a smoker. I realized I was out of integrity.

I was also scared about giving up my habit. Cigarettes had been a friend and a support for me for so many years. Could I really go it alone? What if I failed miserably (again) and couldn’t give them up? Wasn’t it better to be healthy in other parts of my life to balance out the toxicity of smoking? I was trying to do a deal with myself and it wasn’t working…. That icky feeling in my gut was still there.

I was out of integrity and I had to do something if I wanted to face myself and my potential clients. So I told my mentor coach and set a date – March 27th 2002. We put together a coaching plan with the steps that I would take. Each step was something that I felt I could do. … and I did.

Part of my smoke free plan was to start doing yoga. My mentor said it would calm my mind so that I didn’t get as agitated during the change of habit and the physical withdrawal. I hadn’t ever considered yoga, but  I went along to a yoga studio near me……. and I found that it wasn’t as weird or woo woo as I had anticipated. The people were very friendly and made me feel welcome.

I discovered two things that day that would change my life … and my life span!

The first thing I discovered was that my body enjoyed being stretched. The poses felt a bit awkward, but there was a definite opening and flexing that felt good.

The second thing I discovered was how I loved to breathe! Smoking cigarettes had been a way, not only to get a nicotine fix, but also to take deep breaths. Smoking relaxed me. Each big inhale and exhale released the tension. I felt immediately calm as I took a big draw in and then exhaled out.

It was pretty amazing to me that in yoga I could have the same calming effects without poisoning myself.

Yoga became a part of my life and cigarettes became a part of my past.

Now I teach yoga to people at all stages of life and share my love of breathing, stretching, focusing, accepting and letting go.

There is no judgment in yoga, just acceptance of where you are and being your best to live life fully – and breathe fully.

If you have experienced something other than this, then please look for an other teacher.




About Val Boyko

Val Boyko is originally from Scotland and came to the United States over 25 years ago. At "Find Your Middle Ground" Val brings together her experience as a life coach, yoga teacher and mentor, to inspire awakening to the light and inspiration within us all. This blog is a place of exploration and discovery as we all explore finding harmony and peace, in the highs and lows of life 💛

46 comments on “Val’s Yoga Story

  1. Great story, and thanks for sharing it.
    Isn’t it amazing how there may be some things in our life that can be judged to be bad, and that end up helping us? How can we know what’s “good” or “bad” at any given moment? What seems to work best for me is staying open to whatever is in front of me. It’s brought me surprises and delights, with things often working out better than I might have imagined or ever requested.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I would NEVER have guessed that you used to smoke. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing your story into yoga, dear Val ❤
    I'm into that fight now, wish to quit totally and love to breathe, but need the last to let it go and stay in the past.
    Enjoy your stay and relax.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sending you joy and peace thanks for sharing Val om shanti 💟☮️🕉💜

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yep. Yoga makes your body, soul and mind feel remarkable. I should go back to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Very inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That is quite an advocacy

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s very inspirational, motivational and self-transforming write up.Your story is really Guiding pahway to newcomer in the field of yog.
    Thanks for sharing this word of wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Such healing….I can feel it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Good for you for figuring this out! And when I went to my first yoga class, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the deep breathing. It relaxed my body, which then calmed my mind. Now I do it when I’m feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping….it helps!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Marvelous story, Val, I love happy endings. 😉
    True, the deep inhalations are similar to what people do when they smoke. Perhaps if I meet someone who is trying to quit smoking, I will suggest they try yoga!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I never fail to be touched by human stories. Thank you for sharing your story, Val. Deeply inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. That’s a wonderful story to share, Val. I have found tremendous peace in regular yoga practice, and I am often amazed at the benefits. I was in my early fifties when I took my first class, and I truly felt immediate recognition that this was for me. I often wonder at how my life might have been enhanced differently had I been introduced at a much earlier age. Nonetheless, I’m sure an advocate now. 🙂 I loved hearing your story and knowing more about you. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I would have never guess that you were a smoker; thanks for sharing your amazing transformation! How wonderful to find something you are passionate about.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Beautiful story Val. Thank you for sharing it. I love yoga too, and it has made a big difference in my life. I feel more relaxed and balanced. And I’ve lost weight too.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. YAY!!! Indeed, I was surprised to learn how you came to yoga. As others have said, an inspiring story. Glad you found your way to being in integrity, Val!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Great story, Val. You’re so right that yoga practice brings together mind, body and spirit. I have been practicing yoga for close to twenty years and have tried different yoga approaches. When I was younger I liked ashtanga but now I enjoy restorative yoga a soft Hatha yoga practice. But I also explored the philosophy attached to yoga such as Raja yoga. Yoga is really part of my life. I’m happy for you that you gave up smoking.
    Wishing you a new year, Val, filled with lots of yoga and calmness. ❤ .

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Carol. As we age our practice changes, and yet we find new depths and insights. Wishing you a happy year of unfolding and inspiration Carol 💛🙏💛

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Very inspiring Val a good start for the New Year. Best always 👍Regards

    Liked by 3 people

  19. This is awesome and so encouraging! Congrats on successfully quitting smoking!

    I think there are a lot of people who go into yoga thinking it’s going to be super woo woo and find out that it doesn’t have to be that way… Which is how I was as well!
    I’m doing a 30 day yoga challenge right now and you’re so right… It’s so nice to stretch and to breathe!
    Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thanks for sharing with us all your thoughts and experience. Lovely

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thanks for sharing 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Super cool. Yoga in exchange for smoking? Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Well done quitting! My mother was taken at 66 from lung cancer from 50 years of smoking. So sad that’s what kept her from seeing her grandchildren grow up. I’m only about 6 months into daily yoga practice, and I’m kind of “lost”- having a midlife crisis maybe?- I’m a registered nurse, now stay-at-home Mom who really does not want to return to the stress, chaos and sleep deprivation that was Nursing. I am thinking at 41 I want to become a yoga instructor!!!

    Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jenifer. 💛 I’m so glad you are enjoying yoga. It does open up a new way of seeing ourselves and how we are in the world. Take time to find balance and your center. The highs and lows of life will have less impact when you can come back to the present moment and your breath. Namaste


  24. Great story to share! Will definitely recommend this post to my friends who are trying to quit smoking 🙌🏽🤞🏽💗

    Liked by 2 people

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