Yesterday I answered some questions for a friend who’s writing an article:
1. Are yoga and coffee compatible?
2. How much coffee do you drink, and how does it influence your practice?
3. What’s the best yoga technique (asana, pranayama or something else) that helps with coffee “overdose”?
In my humble opinion, coffee is compatible with life. To me, that means I am alive because I drink coffee. That dark hot goodness that lightly – and sometimes not so lightly – jolts your senses, is something I’m not willing to part with. It hadn’t even occurred to me that coffee and yoga wouldn’t be compatible…until yoga teacher training. Early in YTT, our instructors started easing us into longer periods of meditation. As we started out, one of them briefly mentioned that coffee before our morning meditations might not be the best idea, but to each of us, discover for ourselves what that might mean.
I was already not sure what to expect that first weekend as this was a heated yoga studio and that’s not typically how I practiced. But, knowing the instructors and the type of program, I chose this one. I say all of that to introduce the fact that I was already censoring what I ate, as the amount of actual yoga practice and what times of the day it would occur, wasn’t always consistent. Classroom versus asana, big meal versus snack. And now, to caffeinate or not to caffeinate: that is the question.
Here’s how it worked for me. I normally drink one to two cups of coffee per day. This usually means two cups of coffee, or my usual, tall hot Americano from Starbucks after Suns Up Buns Up 6am yoga. Hesitant to “mess up” my meditation upon first weekend of YTT, I went without coffee until lunch break. I think we all agreed that would never happen again. Coffee in my nervous system would be ingested and systemically absorbed before 8am – without question.
BUT. I then discovered the quantity was going to make a difference after all, with regards to meditation; and not just quantity, but type. I learned that coffee made in a French press at home was not as intense on my system. I could drink a small cup and proceed with my yoga and meditation. However, going to Starbucks for an espresso or Americano – any size – had to be sipped in small quantities before meditation, and then snorted, pulled through a straw, mainlined through a vein (not really, but you get the idea), whatever it took, to get the stimulant into the body. Ahhhhhh.
I learned this hard life lesson only once while meditating during YTT one weekend with an Americano onboard, which caused me to be able to “feel” a bit too much going on in my body: felt my heartbeat, was a bit more twitchy than normal, and didn’t have as much sense of ease as I would have that early in the morning had I just not ingested my kryptonite in such a quantity.
I drink coffee in the morning and do yoga any time after 10am. This means both meditation and asana. Before that, yoga comes before the coffee. I’m truly a slave to both: my passions for coffee and yoga both run very deep. (But just between us, if I had to choose between the two, yoga would win and I’d have to head to the nearest black market for a coffee substitute!)