Performing the art of yoga can help manage the constant fatigue and inflammation associated with breast cancer treatments, a new study says. RelaxingMusic/Flickr

The art of yoga can help smokers to quit their habit, a Delhi-based study says.

Research scholar Dr Bidyut K Sarkar who conducted the study said that a simple breathing yoga exercise helped people to stop smoking.

For the study, researchers looked at 1,185 tobacco users from 32 urban slums in Delhi. Some of the participants (574) underwent an intervention programme that combined counselling and yoga, while the rest (586) underwent a session of only counselling, Hindustan Times reported.

After a month, researchers found that a significant number of the participants (77), who received both counselling and yoga, stopped smoking, compared to the group who received only counselling (41).

Dr Sarkar said that the new intervention programme is cost-effective. "In developed countries, governments fund tobacco-cessation programmes. But India needs a low-cost and easily scalable intervention," he told the news daily.

The research team is planning to subject the participants, who benefited out of the intervention programme, to a saliva cotinine test, in the future.

"After six months, we will conduct a saliva cotinine test to validate if they have actually quit tobacco use. Then we will present the study to the government for their approval. The cheap method of intervention can be followed with the help of health workers," said Dr Sarkar.

The findings of the study have been presented at the International Conference on Endgame for Tobacco, held in Delhi, on 10-12 September. The study was supported by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the University College London (UCL).

Cigarettes contain about 4,000 toxic chemicals and have been linked to a wide range of diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. According to experts, nearly 275 million people are addicted to tobacco in India and tobacco will claim 1.5 million lives annually by the year 2020.

Yoga is the process of uniting the body, mind and spirit. The power of yoga in keeping the mind and body relaxed and healthy is well-known. Apart from that, regular practice of yoga helps to fight and cure many chronic diseases like asthma (kapalbhati, bhujangasana, adva-matsyasana, Siddhasana, Shirshasana, Sarvangasana-1); arthritis (Shashankasana, Setu-Bandha-Sarvangasana, Purna-Salabhasana);  lower back pain (Dhanurasana, Setu-Bandha-Sarvangasana, Majrasana, Bhujangasana, Gomukhasana, Adva-Matsyasana, Shirshasana); indigestion (Lolasana, Katti-Chakrasana, Bhujangasana, Shavasana, Tadasana); diabetes (Shavasana, Bhujangasana, Mayurasana, Halasana); constipation (Hastapadasana, Shirshasana, Pavanmuktasana) and depression (Yoga-Mudra, Shavasana, Hastapadasana).