Is drinking alcohol incompatible with yoga?

Wine is a wonderful thing!

And since I started practicing mindfulness meditation I find I enjoy a glass even more. I now drink more ‘mindfully’, taking time to savour the flavours in the wine, wonder at the alchemical process of winemaking, imagine the sunnier climes the grapes were grown in, and enjoy the company I’m keeping. It is so intensely pleasurable to many senses. And I discovered recently that the idea of ‘mindful drinking’ could even be considered a meditation in itself. Perfect!

But although I might enjoy it more, I actually now drink less than ever and I haven’t been to a pub in ages (and since I live in UK where the pub is the default social environment for many, that’s quite significant). I still really enjoy a glass of wine, but I just don’t want to drink very much and I feel much worse (or I’m more aware of feeling worse) if I do go beyond my usual modest limit.

I did some googling around to see if there is any suggestion that regular yoga asana practice actually affects the way we synthesize alcohol and I didn’t find anything. I’d be really interested to hear if anyone knows of any studies. I wonder if it’s just a matter of perception, that yoga invites a greater sensitivity to bodily sensations, and doing asana practice the morning after the night before is a less pleasant experience if you’re even slightly the worse for wear?

Today indeed I am feeling decidedly seedy after hosting a small party for our neighbours last night. All in, I can’t have had much more than a glass, I’m sure — I was too busy looking after our guests to drink that much myself. Why then do I feel so icky? I know that many yogis don’t consider drinking alcohol to be compatible with yoga practice. Personally I’m happy reconciling my yoga with drinking, provided that I’m doing it moderately and mindfully, but if I can’t tolerate it any longer, I might change my mind. Reluctantly.

3 thoughts on “Is drinking alcohol incompatible with yoga?

  1. I practise a fair bit and drink very little alcohol. In fact I almost never drink. (I love to drink green tea, though.) I get a lot more out of a yoga high than I would from drinking. Maybe that’s viveka – discrimination – kicking in? Choosing more wisely?

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    • Thanks k8macdo. I had to look viveka up, I’m just not familiar enough with my patanjali, so I appreciated the pointer to this idea. So viveka is about keeping clarity and making wise choices even when circumstances change? But does it have to be conscious discrimination? Intellectually I’d actually be quite happy to carry on drinking alcohol, I just fear my body is telling me something different.
      I wonder did you find that alcohol actually made you feel bad though, or just that yoga offered more?

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