To drink or not to drink? That is (one of) the yogi questions. So, is it okay for yogis to drink alcohol? As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to be under the influence while practicing yoga because of the effects alcohol can have on the system.
Drinking and partaking in yoga can be a dangerous combination. This is because of the instability and disorientation alcohol can create on the body. But, there is no harm in enjoying a glass of wine here and there or sipping on a delicious cocktail while spending time with friends.
Let’s explore the combination of drinking and practicing yoga a little further.
Are You Using Alcohol to Escape?
Many of us have our own history with drinking. Partying a little too hard in college, enjoying one too many glasses of wine while traveling. Or you’ve never had alcohol and want to find out more about it. Either way, alcohol may or may not play a big role in your life.
There are often times in our lives when we are “stuck” or lost – not sure which path to take and where to go in life. This feeling can be scary and frustrating leading us to turn to bad habits, such as alcohol. But there are better, healthier ways to remove yourself from this feeling such as yoga and meditation. There are many powerful life lessons learned from practicing yoga. It not only helps you to connect the mind and body, but it can also encourage you to ease stress and build resilience and confidence. If you are interested in immersing yourself in the practice of yoga and finding yourself. Consider booking a yoga wellness retreat to help you get back on track.
But you are probably still thinking, okay, this all sounds great, but is it okay for me to still enjoy a drink? Well, it’s a tricky question to ask because the answer is up to you.
WHY Are You Drinking Alcohol?
Turning to alcohol as a way to shift your mood and escape the hardships in life is not advised. There are many negative effects that alcohol can have on the brain such as increased feelings of anxiety and depression. And to make things worse, some people will even try to combat these feelings with more alcohol! This can lead you down a very slippery slope. While drinking, it’s important to know your limits to stay in control, ensuring that you know when to stop. So if your response to the question posed above is, I’m drinking alcohol to make me feel better, then it’s not a good idea. If you are looking for a healthier way to enhance your mood try yoga to feel empowered or meditation to calm the mind and increase anxiety.
There are many studies that show * how yoga practices such as Hatha yoga are effective practices in improving anxiety. In fact, a study published in 2020, conducted by New York University Grossman School of Medicine, found that after three months of Kundalini yoga practice feelings of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) in participants were reduced. Yoga has even been shown to help individuals who struggle with alcoholism. So if you are feeling uneasy about your current place in life, consider yoga as an alternative and healthy way to deal with the many stressors of life.
What Does Yoga Say About Alcohol?
When looking at the “yogi lifestyle” and the history of yoga, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say that yoga is the ending of the irregularities of the mind. Meaning that yoga helps to end suffering and lead to peace. The sutras also list five fluctuations that inhibit the body to access this piece – drinking is related to these fluctuations. So, in the history of yoga, drinking is not advised.
It is believed that consuming drugs and alcohol inhibits our minds from accessing the stillness we seek through yoga. And many of us have experienced this when we have consumed a little too much alcohol. Foggy memory, blurred vision, disorientation… It’s hard to think when drinking, making yoga and meditation practices difficult. So it’s not a good idea to practice while also drinking, but does that mean that you can never drink again?
When you think about it, yoga and alcohol are often used in the same way – an escape from reality. But one is definitely much more beneficial than the other, especially in the long term. If you are curious to know whether or not yoga might work for you, consider taking a fast from alcohol to see if you feel a difference in your life.
We all have our own experience with alcohol and it can be a difficult topic to discuss. Below is a story about one individual’s experience with yoga and alcohol. It may help you in making the decision of whether the combination of yoga and alcohol is okay for you.
Can I Drink Alcohol and Practice Yoga?
The drinks are lined up, waiting for me, and ready to go. Jaegermister shots and I go a long way back.
I had my first proper drink when I was about 14. After that, I was always on the lookout for a great party…because it gave me a reason to drink.
For the longest time, all I wanted to do was get to Saturday night. I wanted to sip from a cup of sweet frothy liquid that stripped away my inhibitions and socialize. Dreamt of being able to slink and swing and sway in rhythm to the music in a way that made me feel sexy and alive. Being silly and escaping and being able to smile, even though I was feeling sad.
Is It Okay For Yogis to Drink Alcohol?
I had always been shy, too busy trying to fit in that drinking brought this whole other dimension to my personality. A personality I didn’t know existed.
I don’t think I appreciated it at the time, but the love of a party called my soul to move beyond the reality I saw before me. It made me search for something else. I sought out crazy (not always legal) secret warehouse parties. And I guess this was where I found my tribe.
We were all there for the good times and the sweet, euphoric beats. Both united us, people from all walks of life, in our appreciation of a hell-raising remix and a Havana Club.
Then the ’90s ended and I grew up. But I never lost my love of the party or my taste for alcohol. It matured to a thirst for high-grade champagne and sublime cocktails.
That was until I found yoga and alcohol gave me up. I didn’t want it anymore.
How Yoga Changed Me
I was in recovery from chronic fatigue and my body was sensitive to almost anything. (If you are suffering from stress and fatigue, there are some restorative yoga poses that can help) But the more I did yoga, the less I wanted the booze. I tried to drink sometimes, but it didn’t sit right. And the more I found out about yoga philosophy the more it felt like cocktails no longer had a place in my life.
In my effort to be a good yogi and a better person I slipped into the trap of following a path of austerity. It’s a mistake (or a choice) many of us make. I stayed in often because I didn’t know how to be out there sober. And there were such taboos about being the only one in the bar not drinking. I got sick of having to explain myself.
Then I realized how ridiculous all this was, that life was for experiencing, and that whilst I didn’t want to get drunk, I did want to have fun. So I got over myself and started going out. Sober at first, and over time I began to relax the rules. While it’s easy to assume that because yoga is the practice of purification, there is no alcohol allowed. But then where is the practice of having fun and living life if we are trying so hard at being pure?
A Little Yoga History
Patanjali, the codifier of yoga, teaches us about saucha (cleanliness) and ahimsa (non-violence) in the yoga sutras. The former is concerned with keeping body, mind, and energies clear. The latter focused on acting towards others and oneself. Abstaining from toxic substances that are damaging for us.
Tantric philosophy is non-dualistic and teaches us to embrace all experiences without judgment. That there is no good or bad, that everything we experience is a manifest of the divine. So why would you deny a little tipple? In what way do you think that will withhold us from liberation? It’s all a state of mind. Tantra calls us to live our lives instead of closing ourselves away in fear.
“In Tantra, the world is not something to escape from or overcome, but rather, even the mundane or seemingly negative events in day-to-day life are actually beautiful and auspicious,” says Para Yoga. The founder Rod Stryker who is a teacher in the Tantric tradition of Sri Vidya. “Rather than looking for samadhi, or liberation from the world, Tantra teaches that liberation is possible in the world.”
The Aghori Yogis of Varanassi engage themselves in cannibalism as part of their spiritual practice. Let me say that again. The Aghori Yogis, Sadhu’s who belong to a particular brand of Hinduism, worship Shiva and/or Kali. They engage themselves in cannibalism as part of their spiritual practice. Sometimes they eat morsels of flesh from the deceased and meditate on dead bodies in dark places, and other practices to recognize all is one. Oftentimes, they look for purity in the filthiest places where others fear to tread and seek to remain straight after performing acts of perversion.
Modern Day Yoga and Alcohol
I get it, modern day yoga is about cultivating presence, feeling vibrant, alive, and awake. Drinking is about escapism, numbing, sleeping, and dulling the senses. So they feel contradictory, but it’s a question of balance, like all things.
If you enjoy it, why give it up? Do it with full awareness, if you want to. Don’t deny yourself a drink without knowing why you’re doing it.
You are a human having a very human experience. If you’re going to have a drink then do it in the right setting, where you know you will enjoy it and it’s to enhance your pleasure, rather than medicate the pain.
Choose good quality alcohol, so your system will be able to cope with it better and be selective about when you drink, how much and how often.
It’s actually rare for me to drink now. I have an occasional glass of wine and usually feel it in my body after the first sip, but if the mood is right I’ll drink up. If I’m in a chic cocktail bar I’ll have the bartender mix me up something unique and I can still get into Koundiasana the next day, no problem. A couple of times a year I’ll let my hair down and it’s always hilarious.
Recently I was even at a stunning retreat center, Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. They had a stocked bar, complemented with fruits that they would shakedown from the tree in their organic garden and juice right into my glass.
Sampling their master mixologist’s magic is one experience I would not have wanted to miss out on.
Check out Blue Osa!
Are you ready to see how yoga can improve your life? Or are you looking for a great way to deepen your yoga practice? Check out Blue Osa’s Yoga Teacher Training programs and discover if there is a program that stands out to you! From a 14-day 200 hour training to an advanced 300-hour training, you will be sure to find something that fits your experience level. So take the first step towards the rest of your life and embark on one of these life-changing journeys!
About the author
Katherine is a global nomad, a free spirit, a wild warrior yogi on a quest for her own truth; part of a new generation of women who are wild, wise, authentic, and free, who has chosen to dismiss what society has dictated and instead pursue my own destiny.
Katherine is a devoted student of yoga, with a travel addiction. She is a yoga teacher, an ayurvedic chef, a life coach, a self-confessed foodie, and an adrenaline junkie with a healthy thirst for tequila margaritas and moving her body in rhythm with a banging baseline.
She had written her own cookbook ‘Nourish. Healing meals at Moses’ for Vale De Moses in Portugal and co-authored ‘Voila. Cuisine avec Maria’ for Blue Osa.
Katherine’s writing is dedicated to inspiring positive change in you through yoga, nourishment, and unapologetic flourishing fun.