Drink me, I’ll make you happy!

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to yoga right now but its freaking me out! I just finished reading an article on how TY KU Sake is introducing its new brand of wonderful to the yoga world. That’s right folks apparently yogis need sake! It’s better for you than wine and lord knows we need to have fun and relax after a yoga class because let’s face it, yoga is stressful! And isn’t it swell that Yoga Journal and Wanderlust plus yoga studios throughout the continental U.S.A are not only promoting but 100% behind this new form of recreation.  Yesterday the following ad was circulated around facebook and the yoga community went crazy. Needless to say 12 hours later Yoga Journal pulled the ad. But you can still see it here!

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What the F…ck! I realise the sale of booze makes money but really yoga and alcohol? Shame on you Yoga Journal! I can remember buying my first copy and pouring over the pages. In fact, those pages became dog-eared while I read about how to manage a shoulder injury or learned a new twisting sequence. I didn’t mind the ads for Gaiam yoga mats. Heck I even aspired to advertise in there myself one day, when I had the bucks. But my excitement about this magazine has seriously gone to the dogs. I can only pray that Yoga Journal Australia maintains its sense of decorum and endorses real yoga. Not this hyped up commercialised thing that’s out there today that doesn’t even resemble the yoga I know and love.

So far in the articles and open letters I’ve read in response to the campaign, the authors acknowledge they too like a bit of wine with their yoga. Hey doesn’t everyone?

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Well … no… actually…I don’t.

Call me an oddball but I cannot see the point in doing a yoga practice which is designed to detoxify the body by purifying the nadis and then drinking the occasional glass of wine when I feel like it. The whole idea is to free the body of the limitations of the body. Then free the breath of the limitations of the breath and ultimately free the mind of the limitations of the mind. This is Maha Yoga. The great yoga and the ultimate tantric practice. But wait isn’t tantra all about meat, drugs, wine, and… sex?

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Years ago when I was struggling with my health I assumed that I was having some sort of kundalini explosion. My teacher encouraged me to get grounded by having some wine while eating a steak. My ex- being a bit of a bacchanalian got really excited and booked us a table at 8-Mile Creek, the only steakhouse in NYC to serve Kangaroo. I remember hunkering down and doing my best not to show too much enthusiasm. I felt like such a hypocrite. I found out later that the cause of my so called kundalini problems was actually Type 1 diabetes (but that’s another story) and that drinking wine was actually not the solution.

It’s taken me years to rebuild my system and it’s only happened due to my dedication to my practice. Before anything the practice comes first. A yoga practice including kriya breathing and meditation is designed to nourish, rejuvenate and relax the nervous system. It’s way more efficient then anything we put in the body. Think of it as a cleanse from the inside out. If your life as a yogi is stressing you out, then for god’s sake give it up! Yoga is not for everyone and certainly not for the faint hearted. If you really want to know what the Siddhas did with this body, then take your practice seriously. Find a real teacher and give up your habits. When you discover the true and lasting meaning of yoga, habits naturally fall away. We only hang onto habits because we think they give us something. I.e. drink wine, relax, get happy! Since when did a bottle of wine scream out, “Hey drink me I’ll make you happy and get rid of your stress!”


What floors me is how the media, especially social media is setting a standard for what’s acceptable in yoga, while ignoring the very real people that practice because for them, yoga is a life saver. The ones in small towns, the ones struggling with their health, the ones actually dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Why don’t we celebrate and encourage these people in the media? Why does every billboard show us someone beautiful, young and healthy doing yoga? C’mon guys where are the real yoga people!

If this rant is bringing up some issues, GOOD!

When I step onto my mat in the morning I give up everything, my thoughts, my ideas, beliefs, in a way it feels like confession…as I fall at the feet of the whole of creation. I begin again.

14 thoughts on “Drink me, I’ll make you happy!

  1. Thank you Rachel. Yoga is a life saver for me, and for the world too I think, when it is actually practiced.

    For me, any advertising that more clearly broadens the gulf between Lifestyle Yoga and authentic yoga practice is a good thing. The more advertising of alcohol in these lifestyle magazines the better. It would also be great if they would advertise plastic surgery, bottled water, and foreign adoption services too.

    All said, I do get what the wine-yogis are reacting to. They see that alcohol is presented culturally as a necessary evil. They are reacting to this situation by removing the hypocrisy around drinking alcohol. Effectively saying, “if we are going to drink alcohol we are damn well not going to be ashamed about it.” Sadly though, the assumption they kept, that “alcohol is necessary” at all, is also false.

    It is true in my experience that most people feel that alcohol is necessary, whether they feel good about it or not. For me it doesn’t invalidate someone’s spirituality if they drink and it doesn’t help them if they feel ashamed of drinking. That said, the “everything in moderation” mantra is clearly ridiculous also, as it obviously fails any amount of scrutiny.

    What I would encourage is that anyone involved in this debate to talk to their senior yoga teachers genuinely about alcohol. There are many of us who have found several ways through the predicament of a culture reliant on alcohol consumption (and coffee too if we’re being real). No one need actually buy into the apres yoga lifestyle fashion, and no one need give up their evening quick fix relaxation (nor their morning pick me up).

    My approach is to actually do the work to find the genuinely better habits that serve each individual in their personal long-term as well as their need for a short term life effectiveness. This is entirely reasonable as a goal and entirely doable but it is not some kind of off-the-shelf solution like many inexperienced spiritual teachers would have you believe (i.e. just meditate, just read this book, just breathe like this, just do this mudra, just do this chant, sadhana, etc). Everyone can find new rituals that serve them better, even using rituals that seem similar on a surface level. It cannot be a one-size fits all approach but it is possible when practicing yoga under the guidance of a yoga friend and mentor who has been there too.

    Alcohol and yoga definitely do not mix. Alcohol is an inferior quick fix and toxic long-term ritual. It puts the body in reaction to it’s environment and it becomes hard to perceive any genuine nurturing in our life. Some have never even experienced this because their body is in permanent reaction to their toxic lifestyle. Any perceived benefit of alcohol can be better created using other methods. Even the benefit of needing a little self-sabotage can be better achieved in a myriad of less life derailing. The belief that this is even possible is what is lacking among these wine-yogis.

    Their real hypocrisy I think is that they know full well it’s not just one glass they are drinking, and they know full well that the advertising is also subtly encouraging much more than a one glass mentality.

    Thanks again Rachel. I love your work.

    p.s. Was ” for god’s saké ” an intended pun?

  2. Well said Rachel! It is often saddening and sometimes (like this) shocking to see what is said and done in the name of yoga. The positive is that many are being drawn to yoga and if it sparks a flame of sincerity in their heart they will find the real yoga. Namaste

  3. Just over 11 years ago, the man I was dating who was a devoted yogi asked if I drink, I said oh yes, socially, now and then, he looked at me and said, I dont understand, arent you practising for higher consciousness? I went, huh??
    After a lot of thinking, I decided that he was right, I went home, got rid of my small bar collection, and never looked back.
    I became truly present through Heaven and Hell, there was nothing to hide under……it was the best thing I had ever done…..

  4. What is “after yoga” anyway? Yoga is LIFE – and every moment of it.

    Shared this excellent article on my FB page – with lots of hits… it was interesting that not so many ‘likes’ or comments, yet the backend of my Facebook insights shows a HUGE influx of clicks and interest…. curious!! 😉

    1. yes! Thanks so much Amy. Interesting that people are reticent to comment. Its a touchy issue. But I feel people do agree that yoga Journal shouldn’t condone something like this.

  5. Given the context, the first time I read “If your life as a yogi is stressing you out, then for god’s sake give it up!”, in my head I pronounced ‘sake’ as sock-ay. :laugh:

    I loved this piece. Trying to market alcohol to yoga enthusiasts is akin to a Trojan Horse and ultimately destructive. Shame on them, indeed.

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