My dears, I’ve had a lovely influx of questions lately about my personal diet choices and self-care regimen. It’s been a great chance to open up a dialogue with YOU: lovely readers and I’m totally diggin’ it. As always, please feel free to reach out with any question, comment, love note, or virtual high five. We’re all about those here at LH.
So, to get to the reason we are all gathered here today, I’d like to direct your attention to the matter at hand: DRANK.
One reader has asked, “Sweet G, just how sweet are you? Do you party? If so, what do you drink? Do you have any vices? Or are you totally yogi and never go out? What do you think about the studies that say coffee and wine are good for you?”
I wanted to take the time to really open up this discussion because I think it’s incredibly relevant not just for yogis, but for anyone trying to live a healthful, mindful life and also be a normal young person living in the modern, urban world.
So here’s my short answer:
Yes, I do drink alcohol. And yes I do have a vice: I drink about a half cup of coffee every morning with breakfast. I do go out, but I rarely drink at bars (whatever, I’m lame, I don’t care), I go to bed early most nights, and I am pretty #fairlyclassicyogi when it comes to how I take care of my body.
Here’s my long answer:
When I say I drink alcohol, I’m not lying, but I will say I drink alcohol….maybe once a month.
This isn’t because I’m too busy traipsing around on my holier-than-thou- high yogi horse, but my yoga practice and Ayurvedic study does have a lot to with it. Here’s why:
- If we’re talking Ayurveda, I am a strong Vata type. That means I’m easily stimulated, my energy is like a hummingbird: high energy for spikes, followed by crashes as soon as I stop fluttering about. My body is cold, dry and light: I struggle to hold on to moisture, oil, anything substantial. For this reason, I have to mitigate the effect of the external world in order to not exacerbate these natural tendencies. So I avoid things that are: cold (like smoothies, juices, iced things), airy (like soda and popcorn), stimulating (like excess sugar and caffeine), and dehydrating (including dried fruits and things of that nature). Alcohol is an incredibly dehydrating and stimulating substance, so unless I’m really in a place where I can either: a) take the hit or b) set myself up nutritionally and lifestyle-y to lessen the blow, It’s not really a viable option for me to drink.
- I practice in the morning, which always informs my teaching and sequencing for the week. If I wake up regularly with the effects of alcohol still pulsing through my body, the quality of my morning sadhana will suffer. Maybe one weekend morning every four or five weeks, I’ll take “a day off,” but I’m definitely not interested in sacrificing my practice and study for the sake of a glass of wine at dinner several nights a week (or getting schwasted every weekend at bars).
- I am the world’s. biggest. lightweight. Give me a half-glass of wine and I’m toast. So it takes very little to put me out of commission. As I said above, when I do get schwasted, it’s only because I really do feel comfortable taking a day off practicing or writing, or I don’t have any immediate teaching commitments to fulfill. And this is rarely the case. Sensing the theme here?
RE: What I Drink
I’m allergic to literally everything in beer (fine by me, never liked the taste), so it’s usually wine or hard liquor for me. Red wine gives me a headache, and I’m actually not too big on white, either. So that leaves hard liquor.
Yes, when Sweet G drinks, she goes hard.
I usually stick to either gin or whiskey, straight up or with a bit of sparkling water or fruit juice. Please, if you see me at a bar (you won’t), don’t ever hand me anything flavored, colored, or sweetened. And if I never have an Appletinis or shot of Malibu in my lifetime, I will die a happy woman.
RE: “Studies Show…”
I’m aware, as most of us are, of the scientific evidence that a titch of wine or coffee every night is good for our health. I’m totally not here to dispute these claims, and I’m definitely not here to tell you to stop drinking wine if it serves you, you feel good, and you enjoy it. In fact, I commend the people who can drink one glass of wine and not be a slobbering silly mess. (I am not one of those people). Only because you asked, here are my general thoughts on these studies that say this, that, and the other thing:
- I do not like wine very much. And if I had a small glass of wine every night, I’d be drunk every night. And I don’t really like the sound of that, either.
- Red wine may be good for your heart and high in antioxidants, but last time I checked, running was also pretty good for your heart and blueberries were pretty high in the ole antioxidant department as well. The point being: I’d rather go for a run and eat a bunch of blueberries every day than throw back a glass and stumble my way to bed every night. And considering the logical and scientific evidence that proves the risk of alcohol consumption, I’d rather risk hurting myself on a run than damaging my organs in the name of heart health.
RE: Caffeine + Vices in General
I’m considering giving up coffee just so that I can truly have no vices. But here’s the thing: I don’t really consider coffee to be a vice. Sure, my Ayurvedic doctors and Kundalini teachers will disagree, but I have found, in my body, that coffee doesn’t really cause me any difficulties.
I’m pretty hesitant to recommend to anyonet hat they should completely cut out any one food group altogether (save for processed and fake foods that clearly have no nutritional value). And I’m also the first to admit that I drank a good 1/3 of a bottle of Bushmills a few months ago (literally never have regretted anything so much). What I’m more interested in–as a teacher and as a writer– is to give us all a space and opportunity to ask ourselves these questions:
- What serves me?
- What does my body need?
- What does my body want?
- How does my body feel?
- How do I want it to feel?
- Am I respecting my body?
Because ultimately, it boils down to this:
Your body is a vessel for your soul. Your soul had to be put in a container in order to do its work here on Earth, and your job is to do that work the best you can until it’s time to leave your body. The question is: how do you care for your body so that your soul may go on its journey? Some of us may need to keep our bodies a little bit more “clean” than others. Some of us may not need to at all. It’s not so much a matter of regimens and rules, but rather a question of self-care and self-fulfillment.
When you recognize that, as the saying goes: “you ARE a soul and you HAVE a body,” it becomes a lot easier to respect and care for your body. When you understand why you have this body, and why you are residing in it, it doesn’t really matter what the studies say or the doctors recommend. It matters what is serving your soul.
Cheers to that.