Recently I was at dinner with my husband and a friend at a restaurant that had a yoga studio attached to it. Part way through our dinner there was an influx of young women and I later noticed they were all drinking a bottle of Moet champagne. This seemed so unusual that I asked the waitress what was happening. Her answer seemed unbelievable to me:
“They are here for a ‘Moet and Meditation’ class.”
Yes, you heard that correctly! This completely flabbergasted me, as putting the two together seemed like anathema to me – for I knew (from my study of Raja Yoga) that meditation is used to re-connect you to yourself, and alcohol takes you away from yourself. Further, the class involved drinking champagne before the meditation!
Then, recently I watched a video by Business Inside UK titled ‘People in London are doing yoga while drinking ice cold beer.’ I watched horrified as the video showed people drinking beer in a pub at the same time as practising yoga. The yoga teacher justified it thus:
“It (beer) adds a little bit more relaxation because people tend to be tense when they come… The goal is to make people stress-free, relaxed and happy, and if this means we have to incorporate beer I think that’s perfectly fine and I think that’s encouraged.” (1)
The video ended as follows:
“They say it complements the joy of drinking beer and the mindfulness of yoga.” (1)
Whoa… did this shock me!
In addition to this there is now ‘hot yoga’ (yoga practised in a very hot room), ‘naked yoga’ (self-explanatory), and ‘fat yoga’ … the list of so-called ‘yoga’ goes on. Add to this the evidence in recent years of yoga ‘gurus’ being accused of having sex with their underage followers, raping young girls, or embezzling their employees’ pension funds, and you start to get a very disturbing picture of the present yoga consciousness.
I practised yoga for 25 years and taught it for 15 years. Although I still teach ‘stretch, strengthen and stillness’ classes, I stopped teaching yoga about five years ago when I could feel in my heart that the yoga I was teaching was no longer true, and in fact was far from what I now understand true yoga to be. I have found that I no longer have the sense of superiority I felt because I ‘practised yoga’ – a superiority that I notice many yoga teachers and practitioners seem to have. Also, since letting go of this consciousness and changing what and how I teach, I have noticed that I am stronger and more flexible than I was before!
The decision to discontinue teaching and practising yoga the way I had been for many years has been very much confirmed for me by the path modern yoga appears to now be going down.
It seems to me that we are now very far away from the source of true yoga that the very wise Indian sage Patanjali taught us in his Yoga Sutras somewhere between 200 BC and 400 AD.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (‘threads’) consist of 196 very short aphorisms (statements), which bring awareness and deeper understanding to how we are living so that we can make changes to support us, thus:
“providing the wherewithal for us to reconnect to our Divine nature and true state of being… The goal of the Yoga-sutras is no less than entire transformation of ourselves, to reconnect to our true Divine essence.” (2)
To deepen our understanding of ourselves and the universe, Patanjali gave us the practical path of yoga, which was given to support human beings to stop being dominated by the mind and to stop taking everything personally, so we could re-connect to our Divinity, to who we truly are, which is so much more than the human body.
So how does drinking alcohol whilst practising yoga support us to re-connect when most people who drink alcohol know that when they drink alcohol they turn into someone else entirely, i.e. they dis-connect even further from themselves?
It appears to me that practising yoga whilst holding a bottle of beer, or drinking champagne before a yoga meditation class, is a complete bastardisation of true Yoga… and that those who teach it are being very irresponsible.
It seems that today we – including, and perhaps especially, some yoga teachers – have moved very far away from the classical Raja (kingly) Yoga of Patanjali. Perhaps we could ask ourselves, why?
Those who have studied yoga in its true essence know that it is a way of living that is simply about union – union with our self and with God: in other words, union with our Soul. Many have experienced the joy of truly connecting to their Soul and to God, and from there have felt the Oneness that we are all from. Is this not what, deep down, we all truly want? To live a life full of purpose, to develop the ‘kingly body’ that Patanjali spoke of, so we can let go of our hurts and emotions and re-connect to each other and to the simplicity life can be, and – most important of all – to be the love that we naturally are.
This divine connection with our Soul is yoga in its true, and ageless, essence. Alcohol has no place in that connection.
By Anne Scott, Auckland
- Business Insider. (2017). People in London are doing yoga while drinking ice cold beer – this is how it works. [online] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/beer-yoga-london-vinyasa-flow-yoga-drinking-beer-funzing-uk-pub-drinking-alcohol-2017-6/?r=AU&IR=T [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].
- Unimed Living. (2017). Patanjali: The great Indian sage and teacher of the Ageless Wisdom | Unimed Living. [online] Available at: http://www.unimedliving.com/ageless-wisdom/the-lineage/patanjali-the-great-indian-sage-and-teacher-of-the-ageless-wisdom.html [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].