Would You Like Wine With That? The Perplexing Coexistence of Alcohol & Yoga via Sarah J. Miller.

Via on Dec 11, 2008


Has anyone else noticed how alcohol and yoga have become so casually intertwined? I can recall a great number of recent events where I encountered yoga and alcohol mixing. From yoga studio openings, to yoga clothing store events, to the beverages served after big name yoga workshops—the bevies are present. There are even specific yoga workshops that include wine tasting. What is it about our society that thinks these two things were meant to mingle?

It is something that has always bothered me. I mean, really, which ancient text is it that condones drinking alcohol after one’s yoga asana practice? Is there a benefit that I’m not aware of?

I am of course assuming that those practicing yoga are doing it for health reasons or possibly even for spiritual purposes. If so, how does alcohol fit into this equation?

The Western practice of yoga is clearly a far cry from original strains of the first yogic organism. There are so many “styles” to pick from today that it makes one dizzy—then offshoots of those as well. Some require a sweltering 108 degrees plus in order to have a “good practice.” Others hold you in standing poses until your thighs quake. Yoga is a fabulous fitness craze—and people love it.

People are doing these wild, modern yoga asana practices and then going out for drinks! Only in America.

From a strictly Ayurvedic perspective, alcohol is pure poison. At times, as the Charak Samhita points out, “even Ayurveda uses poison sometimes.” After a cleansing practice that includes a series of asanas designed to eliminate unwanted toxins from the physiology would most certainly not be one of those times. Expert Ayurvedic physician, Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra, takes it a step further and has said that “alcohol disrupts the vibrational channels that allow spiritual development—mainly the heart lotus.” This is clearly counterproductive to the practice of yoga (union).

As a third generation meditator, I am aware of how my yogic lineage has given me the curse of rigidity. And as a yoga instructor, I often contemplate the intention of one’s practice. Does it still count if you don’t know the real meaning behind what you are doing? I suppose this is like saying, “does karma yoga exist if you don’t understand the meaning of karma?”

I remember on my Jivamukti teacher training course, it was made clear to us that without setting the right intention prior to practice and offering your efforts to something beyond the Small Self, you would only be enhancing ego- a clear obstacle to full realization.

Idealism has its place. Holding ourselves accountable and setting high standards of achievement gives us something to strive for. I may not be that open to the new, modern interpretations of yoga, but I also realize the importance of letting each Being experience their path—whatever that may be.

I think about the Western yoga community 20 to 30 years from now. What new awareness and expansion of consciousness will have occurred at that point?

I hope to see a committed group of yogis who care less about fitness and intoxicants and more about dedicating their energies towards higher states of consciousness and being their enlightenment. Perhaps, then, yoga and alcohol will no longer mingle so casually.

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7 Responses to “Would You Like Wine With That? The Perplexing Coexistence of Alcohol & Yoga via Sarah J. Miller.”

  1. Ann Miller says:

    It's yoga for the masses; a commercialized version to draw in more people. Churches and symphony orchestras have the same issues; how to attract more people, fill the seats. They appeal to popular consciousness and call it culture, religion, yoga. There is an obvious financial component. Studio space costs money, musicians have to be paid, the light bill comes each month. What is the answer? Ultimately, a higher collective consiousness that demands authenticity and truth. In the end,"satyam eva jayate," truth alone triumphs,so whatever is non-truth will not last. No worries after all.

  2. [...] this week’s blog for Elephant Journal…. Would You Like Wine With That? The Perplexing Coexistence of Alcohol and Yoga via Sarah J. Miller [...]

  3. Rachael says:

    The tantric yoga philosophy and interpretations would allow for us to enjoy some of these wonderful things in life without excessiveness of course. There are many ways to interpret ancient texts as well, we do evolve over the years which can add to the beautiful wisdom of yoga. I think it's important to remember that it's often unhealthy to obsess about following rigid rules and being perfect and pure in our quest for health and spirituality (believe me, I've been there). I think you can still have a spiritual purpose or health consciousness in mind and enjoy your wine at the same time (again in moderation). Let us not forget the numerous studies to show the health benefits of wine.

  4. Ian says:

    This all sounds very doctrinaire about yoga, despite the concession to individualism at the end of the article. Not everyone's practice has to be identical. In addition, yoga does not mean the same thing. The health benefits of the poses are well established, and the breathing is an excellent tool for relaxation. What people accept about the metaphysical aspects of yoga is their own business. Most of the metaphysics involved in yoga practice and tantra can now best be understood allegorically by our civilization, for literal readings could often generate absurdities for our own mind. I think the same could be said of alcohol consumption: one person's moderation is another's excess. Although you are probably closer to the original spirit of yoga in your abstemious behavior, you still have to accept that not everyone feels it necessary to adapt their lifestyle to that degree.

  5. LindaSama says:

    I have more of a problem with teachers or studio owners being alcoholics and living in denial. I taught at a studio where the alcoholic owner walked into my classes and workshops drunk, then verbally abuse us because we asked her to get help.

    I quit. because I could not sit in her class and listen to her say "give it up to a higher power" when the week before she told us the yamas and niyamas were a bunch of shit.

  6. JAMES says:

    Thank you for this article. It was very informative.

  7. Let me tell ya, if u really into this stuff, u should check out this Hypnosis & NLP course

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