There are "Yoga & Beer!" classes, often hosted by breweries as marketing ploys seeking to capitalize on the popularity of yoga. These events are no doubt popular. During August, 2013 a large wine retailer here in Seattle, WA held a "Yoga & Wine Tasting" event which sold out.
I see posts on various social media channels from exasperated yoga teachers who can't wait to get home and drink a beer, touting a stressful day. In fact, there are a lot of people who practice yoga, and a lot of people who don't practice yoga, who crave a drink at the end of the day to relax.
If you're seeking a source to justify your alcohol consumption, this blog post is definitely not the place. This post is to challenge anyone who drinks, and especially anyone who drinks on a daily basis or cannot control their consumption when they do drink, to stop drinking alcohol all together.
"So what, I drink alcohol, I’m happy, what's the big deal anyway?"
There are a lot of big deals. Here are the reasons to stop drinking alcohol:
1. Alcohol is a toxin.
According to Ayurveda, the 2,000 - 5,000 year old science of holistic health, alcohol is a toxin. The Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita discusses alcohol consumption in great detail. The text acknowledges that alcohol can be medicinal, but warms foremost that alcohol is a toxin. There are strict rules to follow in order to prepare the body for consuming alcohol, as well as detailed descriptions of the imbalances caused after consumption. Taken recreationally without regard to time, place, or being under the right guidance, alcohol becomes a poison.
2. Alcohol will zap your ojas.
What is ojas and why care if alcohol zaps it? Ojas is a sanskrit word literally translated as "vigor".
From Wikipedia: "Ojas (pronounced oh-jus) is the ultimate refined result of digestion, metabolism, absorption and assimilation. The substance that connects the mind to the body and consciousness, it is a wholesome biochemical substance that nourishes all body tissues and has a direct influence on the nature and quality of physical, mental and emotional life. Ojas’ primary location is the heart, from where it circulates to and pervades the entire body. Ojas is collected from the body’s seven tissues — plasma, blood, muscle, adipose tissue (fat), bone, bone marrow, and reproductive tissue (semen and ovum) — by the influence of enzymes (Agnis), similar to how a bee collects honey from the essence of many flowers. The purest substance in the universe and omnipresent in the human being, ojas is responsible for higher states of consciousness, purity of thoughts, perfect health, positivity in feelings, love, joy, better immunity, longevity, intelligence, creativity, memory, bliss, and thought process. When an individual’s inner consciousness awakens spontaneously, ojas increases. In a nutshell, ojas is the sap of the entire physiology and sustains the life of an individual."
Alcohol causes agitation and intoxication, affecting purity of the mind, zapping your ojas, or "fluid of life".
3. Alcohol is a tension point in your relationships - stop drinking to heal your relationships and yourself.
Often, the friction over alcohol in relationships is caused by excessive drinking, out-of-control drinking, or undesireable behaviors which arise from drinking. Many people have traumatic pasts around alcoholic family members, and continue a lineage of addictive behavior without seeing the lineage they are representing or passing down to their children. These people lack understanding of themselves and the roots of why they drink.
Stop drinking to heal your relationships and yourself. When you don't drink, you are forced into the present moment and into a different way of coping. When you don't drink, you are creating more opportunity for authentic connection. When sober, you are forced to face yourself and your emotions, and ultimately, into newer, healthier ways to cope with feelings. No doubt such a paradigm shift requires the deepest courage. Not many people walk the path of self-realization. Drinking is easy and pleasurable, no work required! Not drinking requires a lot of work, self-reflection, facing painful feelings, and discomfort. Those who do walk the path of self-realization are able to enjoy more and more ultimate freedom within themselves, no longer controlled or bound by the past - courageously creating a new lineage, without alcohol, filled with love, vulnerability, and connection.
4. You're ready to grow up.
Some people use alcohol to escape painful incidences from childhood, masking a deep-seated anger from being abandoned, controlled, or abused. If you drink on a regular basis, it's likely that you are masking emotions from a painful incident at a young age. Whether that age is two years old, ten years old, or eighteen years old, drinking regularly prevents you from going into the painful emotions of that age, instead you are covering them up. Without going into those emotions and processing those feelings, you will stay stuck at that age. Stop drinking, allow space for emotions to arise so that you may mature. Sometimes the depth of those painful emotions elicit a sense of dying.
5. If you drink moderately, stop drinking to stay aligned with the yogic path, self-realization, and health.
If you are living a yogic lifestyle, alcohol is to be avoided. As stated in point one, alcohol is a toxin and only to be taken under certain conditions and guidance medicinally – unfortunately, a drink at a bar on a Friday night doesn’t meet those Ayurvedic requirements. Obviously there’s no ultimate judgment of right or wrong behavior on the yogic path, and the only person you answer to is yourself in your own experience. There’s nothing wrong with having fun and having one drink on occasion. It’s more about accountability to yourself, and your health.
Stop drinking. Let the uncomfortable or painful emotions arise, and then die. “Stop drinking” does not mean “stop having fun”. Stay true to your principles of vital health, unwavering in conviction. Be unabashedly yourself in the pure state of mind. It’s beautifully liberating.