How Yoga Cured My Coffee Addiction.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Mar 13, 2013
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Source: via Avee on Pinterest.
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


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


11 Responses to “How Yoga Cured My Coffee Addiction.”

  1. crimsunkg says:

    Ah, the addiction of caffeine. I completely agree regarding remaining open to what the practice (asana et al.) reveals to oneself, because that's a type of truth gained through direct experience. Best of luck in this lifelong weaning!

  2. Jakar says:

    Good luck with the Dandelion Root Coffee- per-uke

  3. Blissful Girl says:

    Way to go! I gave up coffee last fall and after three days of nausea (and some vomiting), I am so glad I gave it up. I am never tired during the day anymore. I do drink green tea in the morning and occasionally iced tea at lunch. I don't even miss it anymore. Best of luck! xoxo

  4. Thanks – having no trouble staying off coffee at all, which amazes me, considering how long I considered it a necessity in my life.

  5. Fortunately, I love the taste of Dandelion Root Coffee. Drinking it feels luxurious… although that's maybe because of the price!

  6. Wow! Nausea and vomiting is intense. Isn't it amazing how that tiredness that we'd respond to with coffee seems to disappear when we don't drink it at all… now when I'm tired, it's just because I haven't had enough sleep or need to rest, not because I'm having a post-caffeine slump.

  7. ehassman says:

    I know that I am far too attached to my morning cup(s) of coffee, but I have been really fighting giving it up! OK, it might be time to try… thanks for the gentle nudge 😉

  8. How about you give up the fight and let yourself totally enjoy it. And then have a week without, just for fun. See how it feels drinking coffee after not drinking it for a week. Be playful and light and curious as you explore what coffee actually is and how it affects your body and mind…

  9. Moltenroots says:

    I too had a coffee addiction for decades, until weaning myself of it during a recent cleanse. The detox symptoms I experienced were so intense and uncomfortable, I literally couldn’t sleep for a few days (I was drinking a LOT of coffee!) Like you, I was excited to become reacquainted with my old buddy, but I started realizing I felt better without it (what?!?!) – and ultimately said farewell to that dear familiar friend that has served me all these years. New horizons, coffee free. Dang, it feels good…

  10. jearuiz01 says:

    I do drink green tea in the morning and occasionally iced tea at lunch. I don't even miss it anymore.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Stumbled upon this article after I consciously chose not to have a cup of coffee today but chose an herbal substitute with a splash of coacoa powder instead…been gently talking to myself for months about giving up coffee and a few other things in an attempt to be more sensitive to my bodily sensations-sans-stimulant as part of spiritual development but also the clarity of plain ol' sobriety. I too have recently become more aware of and sensitive to the uncomfortable physical and mental effects of the stimulant than I have been in the past, which I no doubt attribute to the fact that I've been working on getting more in touch with my body lately, which is telling me the next step may be to cut out the coffee – that beloved bean I've enjoyed and identified with for so many years…thanks for this encouragement – it's nice to know I'm not alone in the java-junkie-going-clean process.