They’re lined up, waiting for me ready to go. The Jaegermister shots and I go a long way back.
I had my first proper drink when I was about 14 and after that I was always on the look out 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, so I could sip from a cup of sweet frothy liquid that stripped away my inhibitions and socialize. I wanted to slink and swing and sway in rhythm to the music in a way that made me feel sexy and alive. I wanted to be silly and escape and be able to smile, even though I was feeling sad.
Is It Okay For Yogis To Drink Alcohol?
I had always been shy. I’d always been too busy trying to fit in that drinking brought this whole other dimension to my personality I didn’t know existed.
I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time, but the love of a party called my soul to move beyond the reality I saw before me and go searching for something else. I sought out crazy (not entirely legal) secret warehouse frequency- frenzies. This was where I guess 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.
Thankfully the 90’s ended and I grew up. But I never lost my love of the party or my taste for alcohol. It just matured to a thirst for high grade champagne and sublime cocktails.
That was until I found yoga and alcohol gave me up. I just didn’t want it anymore.
I was in recovery from chronic fatigue and my body was highly sensitive to just about anything. But the more I did yoga, the less I wanted the booze. I tried to drink sometimes, but it just didn’t sit right. And the more I found about 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. I think 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 of 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?
Patanjali, the codifier of yoga, teaches us about saucha (Cleanliness) and ahimsa (Non-violence) in the yoga sutras. The former being concerned with keeping body, mind and energies clear and the latter focused towards acting compassionately towards others and one self and abstaining from toxic substances that are damaging for us.
However, Tantric philosophy is non-dualistic and teaches us to embrace all experience without judgement. That there is no good or bad, that everything we feel, experience, think and sense is simply a manifestation 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 just a state of mind. Tantra calls us to live our lives fully instead of closet 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 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 which worships Shiva and/or Kali, engage themselves in cannibalism as part of their spiritual practice. They eat morsels of flesh from the deceased and meditate on dead bodies in dark places, among other things, in an effort to recognize all is one. They look for purity in the filthiest places where others fear to tread and seek to remain straight after performing acts of perversion.
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 I believe it’s a question of balance, like all things.
If it’s something to be enjoyed, why give it up? Just 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 pain.
Choose good quality alcohol, so you’re system will be able to cope with it better and simply 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 bar tender mix me up something unique and I can still get into Koundiasana the next day, no problem. A couple of times a year maybe I’ll really let my hair down and it’s always hilarious.
Recently I was even at a stunning retreat centre, Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica, and they had a fully stocked bar that was complimented with fruits that they would literally shake down from the tree in their organic garden and juice right into my glass. Sampling their master mixologists magic is one experience I would not have wanted to miss out on.
So, is it okay for yogis to drink alcohol? What do you think? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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 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 inspire positive change in you through yoga, nourishment and unapologetic flourishing fun.