I gave up drinking within about a year of starting to do yoga. It wasn’t a moral issue. But with regular asana practice, I simply began to see more clearly what the alcohol was doing to my body. And it wasn’t pretty.
Now, let me be clear. Alcohol never agreed with me. I come from poor drinking stock. My mother passes out from looking at a glass of wine. My dad would occasionally open a beer at our summer barbeque when I was growing up, and it was a triumph if he drank the whole thing. But me—I liked to party in college. I drank a lot. Cocktails, beer, cider, shots. It wasn’t a weekend unless I got tanked.
Oh, and I was sick a lot, too. I had bronchial infections, yeast infections, digestive disorders, depression. I was working out four times a week and eating healthy but always coming down with something. I continued with this pattern of drinking and feeling generally crappy for several years, until I started practicing yoga. My yoga practice illuminated for me what was happening in my body as a direct result of how I was treating it. Cause and effect suddenly became linked in a way they hadn’t been before.
In the following years, I also began to notice the effect that alcohol had on my asana practice. If I have even a couple of glasses of wine, my yoga practice is shot the next day. I feel lethargic, my digestion feels off, and my mind feels dull or confused: or, in yogic terms, completely tamasic. That said, I have noticed that some yogis can tolerate alcohol better than others, based on their constitution, size, and other factors.
What has been your experience with drinking and yoga? Have you stopped drinking altogether? Or do you go to happy hour right after class on Fridays? Do you find that the yoga has helped you better metabolize your alcohol or has made it harder to tolerate it? What effects does drinking have on your practice? Write in and tell us what you think!
My comments relate to my overall fitness and meditation practice, which includes; swimming, cycling, running and Yoga.
Although my intention was not specifically to give up alchohol, that’s been the net result. Over a couple of years my achohol consumption has reduced until it’s now virtually nil. Anything I do drink is normally in half measures and purely for the taste.
– I don’t need alchhol as de-stressor – Yoga & excercise are far more effective
– I don’t need alchohol as a ‘social lubricant’ – I’m more centred & confident
– I value my mental clarity – being under the cloud of a hangover is far away from where I want to be
And last but not least:
– I’ve simply lost the habit ! – The mental programming that said “It’s Friday I need a drink” has simply been overwritten. The new habit is “I feel stressed, I need to excercise, stretch and meditate!”
Thanks, Nick – awesome!
I have just found this blog and this article! Funnily enough I can relate to your story. Mum and Dad are not big drinkers and have the occasional wine and/or beer on the weekend or at a special dinner. I was the same, smashed it back through my legal years at a stage in life when I wasnt really thinking much about what I was putting into my body or what effect it or food was having on me.
Now at age 31 I am going through a year of change and self discovery. I am in the process of overcoming eatting issues and body image issues and over exercising. I attended my first Yoga class in January this year and have never looked back. I am hooked and am slowly educating myself as much as I can and when I have time!
Anyway, my year of change brings me to wanting to start a family. I am currently undergoing IVF due to some fertility issues. Slowly as the months have gone by I have reduced my drinking. During this time, when I have had a drink I have noticed the negative effects it has on my mood and my general feeling more than anything. I seem to be more sensitve than others too. Its been about 2mths since I have had a drink. I have so much going on in my mind already, I dont really need something else thrown in there to bring me down. I guess what Nick said is true, I have more mental clarity.
I wouldnt dare have a drink the night before yoga, so not sure what it would do to my practice.
I have however just kicked the coffee habit, 10 days in.
I am not saying I have given up either for good. But for now, they have not place in assiting me in life.
Chocolate is another story!
Firstly, there are different types of alcohol with slightly varying effect. Ones preferred beverage will be one of the vast dynamic variables contributing to the overall affect. Furthermore, most wines contain sulfites (toxic) while many beers contain various preservatives (sic). Inferior grade liquor is likely to contain various undesirable byproducts. Additionally, the foods that one consumes may cause secretion of digestion enzymes contraindicated with the enzymes that process alcohol.
Hymnthinks it is really fun to get all types of tipsy before going to yoga class. It depresses (relaxes) the CNS whilst increasing an individuals tolerance to pain thusly enhancing ones practice. However, aforementioned factors may increase the potentiate of undesirable events (injury).
Henceforth, drink only organic sulfite free wine and beer. Love lyfe, live. As yoga is intended to eliminate tapas, try to minimize toxin ingestion.
*This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any ailment. Anyone foolhearted enough to drink, practice yoga, combine the 2 practices, or follow my advice is obviously negligent. Reader assumes all liable.