March 14, 2013

How Yoga Cured My Coffee Addiction.

Source: via Avee on Pinterest.

I’m jittery right now and struggling to write this article; I feel like I’ve had a line of speed. Maybe a line of cocaine.

My heart is beating faster—I’m struggling to calm down enough to find the flow of my words.

My breathing is erratic.

There are no drugs in my system though. At least, not a drug we think of as a drug.

I have just had my first cup of coffee after a 10-day cleanse (The Ultimate Cleanse).

I’ve been looking forward to this coffee since Day one on the cleanse; dreaming about it even…although I did notice when I got up in the morning and had a cup of herbal tea instead, that I didn’t need my coffee. Not drinking coffee made no noticeable negative difference to my morning.

Now, here I am, two thirds of my way through a mild coffee and wishing I hadn’t drunk it because I can feel the effect of the stimulant on my body and I don’t like it.

Yep, I don’t like it.

Amazing huh? This is exactly why I wanted to do a cleanse. Changing our eating and drinking habits—stopping the thing we think we really love to ingest—gives us a chance to come back and try that thing and truly experience it.

I was mindful this morning, going into my morning cup of coffee. I skipped my usual two spoons of sugar, as I was determined to tiptoe back into forbidden foods after the clearing out of my system. I was interested to see whether I had broken my sugar habit completely.

What I didn’t expect was to break my coffee habit.

But sipping mindfully, noting the taste and my experience of it, I realized something: My craving for coffee didn’t live up to the hype—it didn’t taste that much better than my morning cup of tea.

Which begs the question, if it’s not the taste I love so much, why do I look forward to it so much every morning?

Likely because coffee is a drug, and it is a stimulant. It makes us feel good when we drink it, although it has negative, jittery side-effects.

Taking a ten day break meant that I was able to break free of my coffee addiction—and yes, I’d call it an addiction now—and observe its actual effects in my body. Observation of those effects makes me realize I don’t want to drink coffee anymore.

I don’t want to drink coffee anymore.

Last night I was reading Kundalini Yoga : The Flow of Eternal Power which details the way a yogi lives. I’d read the chapter on food, including this paragraph on coffee:

Caffeine: Caffeine deletes the pranas, and do I really have to say anything about what it does to the nervous system? A yogi usually avoids all stimulants. ‘Nuff said.”

I rebelled last night. I read that and thought;

Coffee’s not that bad. I don’t mind. It’s okay. I can drink it. It doesn’t matter.

This morning, clear and pure after my 10-day cleanse, I could feel exactly what Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa was referring to in her book. I could feel the effect on my pranas (she’s referring to the five vayus or winds) and I could really feel the effect on my nervous system.

I did mind, and it wasn’t okay. In fact, it was so intense that I was wishing I hadn’t drunk the coffee and could undo it. That blew me away.

Notice the difference in my experience.

I read about something ‘I shouldn’t do if I’m a yogi’ and I don’t agree or I rebel.

I bring the awareness of yoga to my experience of that thing and my spontaneous reaction aligns with that of a yogi.

This is how yoga works; this is how we become a yogi. It’s not a set of rules and regulations that we learn and obediently follow because that is what ‘a yogi’ does. No.

Yoga is a practice and a yogi is a person who emerges as a result of the practice of yoga.

And because the emergence of a yogi is a process, there is no perfect ideal to attain or reach for. It is an unfolding, which happens at it’s own pace, according to how much importance we place upon our practice of yoga.

One day we’re a coffee drinker; the next day we’re not. We’ve taken another step in the niyama of saucha, towards cleanliness and purity. Not because we have to, or because it’s a rule to follow, no, we make the choice because of the results we observe in our body.

This is why I love yoga.

It’s an experiential process that respects the individual’s power of choice and relies on us being responsible for our bodies and our lives.

This makes us powerful. Every time we make a conscious choice in our lives, regardless of what that choice is for, we become more powerful.

I can’t say that I won’t ever drink coffee again. But now I know the effects in my body I am choosing to drop coffee as a habit. This conscious choice requires action to back it up, or as with all habits, I could easily slip back into the way I’ve been the last twenty or so years of my life.

Here are the concrete steps I’m going to take to support myself as someone who doesn’t drink coffee.

1. I’m going to give away all the coffee I have in the house.
2. I’m going to keep my herbal tea cupboard stocked with my favourite herbals, including choices like Dandelion Root Coffee.
3. I’m going to try a de-caff latte, or switch to chai lattes in cafes.
4. I’m going to write about it in public, using the power of the word to reinforce my will.

Those four steps give me positive choices to make in all the situations when I usually choose coffee. And you know what?

I’m excited; I’m curious to see what a coffee-free Kara-Leah is like! It’s another new adventure, another unknown road…and I love to explore.



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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