The Yoga of Alcohol: Drinking to Live Longer + Better
The following article was written by our friend Or Geshury – of the Mixology Wine Institute in Philadelphia, PA and discusses some the “connections” between Yoga and alcohol. Check it out and please leave a comment below and let us know how you feel about this. Do you think that Or’s points are legit? Is their space in living yoga for drinking?
There’s a part in the Baghavad Gita, where it’s explained that people are drawn to yoga almost against their will, because it is only through yoga that they can find what they are seeking. That’s definitely true for me. I got into yoga after I tore my ACL in Jiu Jitsu, and sprained the other knee. I decided that, if I’m going to go back to Jiu Jitsu, I better be flexible enough that I never get injured again. I dabbled in Yoga in the past, but this time, I figured I should get a little more serious. So I decided to take 100 yoga classes in 90 days. At the time, the Do Yoga Philly Festival was announced, and I figured it might be a good idea, so I signed up. I’ve been taking at least 7 classes a week for about a month now, and just finished the festival. I like yoga because when I do it everything else in life seems to work better.
I didn’t expect to learn anything new about Mixology from Yoga, but in one of the classes, Dhyana told us that her favorite yoga philosophy is:
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Which means something like inconceivable infinite oneness and differentiation. So we’re all one, but we’re all completely different. We get glimpses of that kaleidoscopic unity sometimes, but we can’t really grasp it.
Sometime during the hardest class of the festival, when I was trying to balance on my hands and jump my legs through behind me, I got a glimpse.
In Yoga, life force, which is connected to breath, is known as:
But the same force has corresponding definitions all over the world:
And others. And they are all tied to life-force.
This is very similar to Alcohol. Alcohol is an Arabic word, this is because distillation was discovered by brilliant Arab alchemists, searching, as alchemists are wont, for eternal life and endless prosperity. The philosopher’s stone, which everybody knows about thanks to Harry Potter and Paulo Coelho, had the power to turn lead into gold and grant immortality. The alchemists were fascinated by alcohol because when a dead animal was placed in it, it would perfectly preserve its material form. This was astonishing!
The alchemists were convinced that alcohol was directly connected to life force itself. This is a belief that modern science has backed up with thousands of studies that link moderate alcohol consumption with benefits ranging from Parkinsons to Pancreatic Cancer to Hepatitis to Heart disease. You can read more about this here.
This belief is powerful, that just like prana has different names all around the world, so does alcohol:
Aqua Vitae (Latin)
Eau de Vie (French)
Whisk(e)y (from uisce beatha Irish or uisge beatha Scottish)
These all have the same meaning: Water of Life
Even liquors with different names, like Gin, have their origins in healing. Gin and Absinthe were created by apothecaries, as Ayurveda preserves herbs in alcohol to this day, as a way to impart health. Gin was created to pass kidney stones in Holland, and Absinthe to combat Malaria in French Algeria.
Remember Achintya Bheda Abheda? Everything is one and everything is different?
Prana and Alcohol are the same: They are both expressions of life force.
Yoga is a method to align ourselves with life force. Yoga, meaning union, seeks in practice and philosophy to align itself with life force. This expresses itself physically as breath control (pranayama), movement (vinyasa), and posture (asana). But the goal is always the same, to unite with the force of life itself. Through controlling our breath, we can reach a sort of mental stillness and peace that I experienced a lot in the last month.
Why do we need to align ourselves with life force? Because life force is dangerous! A yoga posture pushed to far can tear a ligament, pranayama practitioners are strongly encouraged to find an advanced level teacher so they do not inadvertently harm themselves. Alcohol abuse and addiction leads to tragedy. Paracelcus, the legendary alchemist had it right when declared that:
The dose maketh the remedy.
The poison and the antidote are the same. The important thing is to find harmony.
If this is true, I wondered, could the lessons of Yoga, also apply to alcohol?
I believe the answer is yes, so I’ve put together some yoga guidelines on how to best consume alcohol:
Drink to Celebrate Life and Dedicate it to someone or something greater than yourself.
In a yoga class, we set our intention for at the start of class. My best yoga classes were when I thought of why I was working so hard, and that I dedicated to someone else. My cousin in the army, or my mission in life (which happens to be spreading the appreciation and joy of alcohol through education:). I’ve also dedicated my practice to love, or power, or whatever I was feeling that day.
My best drinking experiences were also in dedication of someone or something else. My best friend is a firefighter, and his partner died in a fire. The night he died, everyone at the firehouse had a shot of Soco and Lime in his honor. When we go out, we always have a shot of Soco and Lime for the dead, and we always have a great night.
Drink in Moderation
The only thing a yoga class will immediately produce is injury. In yoga, we’re taught to use our breath as our teacher, and when it becomes forced, choppy, and ragged, to pull back in the posture until it stabilizes. Not to practice yoga because there is a risk of injury or to practice very rigorously until you are inevitably injured are both examples of extreme fanaticism.
We see these extremes so often in our physical life: So many people either don’t exercise at all, or go to fanatical lengths and take steroids and push themselves to extremes for which they suffer after retirement for the rest of their lives.
With alcohol, I meet so many people who drank an incredible amount in college, get sick of it and stop drinking altogether, and then resume it later but stick only to wine because wine is “good.” They don’t realize that they are influenced by what our culture and movies see as “normal,” is actually dangerous and extreme.
Instead of using exercise to enrich, and sustain life. We either abstain from it or push too hard. Instead of using alcohol to enrich and sustain life, we either abstain from it or drink too much.
We can spend our whole lives cheating ourselves.
The only antidote to fanaticism and the damage it does is moderation. Think of alcohol as a bottle of aspirin. One or two are great, the whole bottle is harmful.
The dose Maketh the Remedy
The Intention is Everything
In yoga, the intention behind our practice, is more important than the visible manifestations of it. Asana, or posture, what we see, is only 1/8th of an ethical philosophy. In my religion, Judaism, we are told to drink so much on Purim that we can’t tell the difference between good and evil. This is a good thing!
But wait a minute? Didn’t I just say that moderation was important. Yes, but consider the context. Purim is a historic holiday that celebrates the Jewish people avoiding a holocaust. It’s also an example in the bible of a miracle happening without any divine intervention. It was all done through human hands. Because the Jewish body was in danger, we celebrate the Jewish body by drinking! It is a celebration of the physical expression and gifts of God.
H.G. Wells said that moral indignation is jealousy with a halo. If you judge yourself or others, if you feel that drinking is evil, and you feel guilty, the guilt can damage you far more than anything the alcohol can do.
If you love life, and want to celebrate it, even getting drunk once in a while is ok!
The most important thing is moderation, intention, and offering your life to something greater than yourself. Do all of these things, and you’ll be ok
I want to thank everyone at Dhyana Yoga, specifically my teachers:
Dhyana, John, Simon, Noelle, Bruno, Sonia, Alex, and anyone I’m forgetting.
If you want to find out more about yoga in Philly, check out their website at
If you want to find out more about Mixology in Philly, check out our website at