Disturbing trend: booze and Yoga classes

There are plenty of yoga “blends” out there now that the practice is becoming mainstreamed in Western culture. There is Stand Up Paddle Yoga, Yoga with weights, spinning class yoga, the list is tireless. At least these yoga strains are working toward a healthy end. But now things have taken a turn for the worse: the proliferation of combining alcohol with yoga practice.

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Ty Ku Sake has a new campaign #ApresYoga which is a spinoff on the Apres Ski where after a nice day of skiing, there is an unwinding which involves a hot tub and alcohol. They make it sound “fun”: do yoga and drink up. The only problem is that Yoga is supposed to be a practice of awareness and not to be combined with substance use (yes alcohol is considered a substance). They have even brought in a yoga celebrity, Erin Motz, to spearhead their campaign. I suppose everyone has their price.

As I have been blogging for a while, I am aware that there is a sizable segment of the yoga community who is in recovery from substance abuse. Many have come to yoga as a solace from mainstream culture. Now Big Alcohol has identified yoga as an untapped marketing mecca and is wasting no time in exploiting the practice to increase alcohol sales.

The Facebook page for DoYouYoga.com is pushing this product, interlacing it with articles about yoga practice. This isn’t the only mainstream yoga outlet pushing drinking…

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Yes, everyone’s darling Lululemon is even producing its own line of beer. Granted this was for a limited event which involved running, it shows how a company who tells you how committed they are to certain yogic principles quickly take to low road for a quick buck.

A studio in New Mexico, a state which has one of the highest DUI and drinking and driving related fatality rates in the US, recently started this event which actually has people drinking beer during Yoga practice.

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And it doesn’t help that celebrities like Nick Lachey are using yoga to to promote alcohol, as he is here drinking beer after a hot yoga class. That sounds like a nice recipe for severe dehydration.

Lastly, the new editor of Yoga Journal Carin Gorrell endorsed “brewery yoga” during her interview on Elephant Journal last year. Calling yoga in a brewery “perfect.” You can see the interview at the 6:40 mark. What is a yoga community to do when even the editor of one of the largest yoga publications endorses drinking and yoga?

I am not here to preach abstinence or be a tee totaler. My point is that yoga is sacred to me and that combining yoga with alcohol goes against many concepts of Patanjali’s teachings: namely ahimsa (non harming), saucha (cleanliness), and sutra II.16. Heyaim dukham anagram “The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.”

If you don’t think consuming alcohol is potentially life threatening, here is what the Centers for Disease Control have to say about it:

Drinking too much can harm your health. Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. Further, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink.

I hope this blog post generates awareness and discussion on the topic. My views come from my “mental health counselor” lens in which I see the devastating effects of alcohol dependence daily in my work. It seems as though this trend of drinking and doing yoga has taken the evolution of Yoga back a few steps.

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23 thoughts on “Disturbing trend: booze and Yoga classes

  1. mishedup

    it is really disturbing.
    i would think that people seeing this would have further notice that the big alcohol (and cigarette and sugar) dealers are willing and at the ready to co-opt anything to usher in a new generation of users. Really disgusting, as well as dangerous….I picture the injuries from “loosening up” with a little drink before yoga…
    after, well I have no opinion about whether people choose to drink or not, that’s none of my business.
    But certainly Lululemon, who already has such a bad rep for it’s business practices, should know better.
    Sad

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks mished!
      It’s one thing to just say “I’m going to boycott these companies,” but another to try to educate the teeming masses on why using yoga to promote alcohol in insidious an many different levels. I think that young people who are new to yoga are the most vulnerable to this type of marketing.

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  2. mahasadhu

    Beautifully written! As a practitioner of Yoga myself, this is really ridiculous trying to have the benefits of Yoga under one’s conditions! If one is willing to benefit from Yoga, one have to follow its rules! Want to drink beer? Or even do drugs? do it, but do not combine it with Yoga, it will have the wrong benefits!

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  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for bringing this to a blog post.
    People always ask what kind of yoga I teach. I am always so speechless at this question. Yoga is YOGA.
    However,since yoga is gaining more and more health benefits/popularity, all the commercial minded ones are trying to make every buck they possibly can at any cost. They will not stop at combining the word YOGA to literally anything and everything. Really, really sad. I have also seen people using yoga class to get people to the wine tasting events.
    OMG! the word yoga – if people truly learn and understand the traditional authentic and main source of this knowledge and wisdom is to get away from these things. WE don’t need special branding of clothes, or props or accessories for yoga. BE as simple as possible, Keep the least possible thing you need, this is the cruz to be learned and followed.
    Yet here we are using the word YOGA for anything and everything to make a buck for ourselves. HOW very very sad. It is just way too low cheap dirty and plain wrong.
    I have even seen yoga classes running in such bad combinations it feels dirty even to think about it. Almost to a point of do what you want under the name of yoga. When celebrities start doing this it is truly shameful to see how our HUMAN society and culture and the moral and ethical values of us as human beings will go any length to make a buck, and how we are just going down hill instead of rising up with YOGIC knowledge, wisdom.
    This is exactly why the ancient rishis(wise men/women) did not want to freely distribute the knowledge to all in general unless and until the student truly worked for it, deserved it and showed all signs of deserving of this knowledge being imparted. All under the name of freedom. SOme how the true believers of Yoga have to do something to stop this madness and downhill trend to let yoga be associated to with everything that is is exactly opposite of.

    Pratibha.

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  4. Aatmayog

    Thanks for bringing this to a blog post.
    People always ask what kind of yoga I teach. I am always so speechless at this question. Yoga is YOGA.
    However,since yoga is gaining more and more health benefits/popularity, all the commercial minded ones are trying to make every buck they possibly can at any cost. They will not stop at combining the word YOGA to literally anything and everything. Really, really sad. I have also seen people using yoga class to get people to the wine tasting events.
    OMG! the word yoga – if people truly learn and understand the traditional authentic and main source of this knowledge and wisdom is to get away from these things. WE don’t need special branding of clothes, or props or accessories for yoga. BE as simple as possible, Keep the least possible thing you need, this is the cruz to be learned and followed.
    Yet here we are using the word YOGA for anything and everything to make a buck for ourselves. HOW very very sad. It is just way too low cheap dirty and plain wrong.
    I have even seen yoga classes running in such bad combinations it feels dirty even to think about it. Almost to a point of do what you want under the name of yoga. When celebrities start doing this it is truly shameful to see how our HUMAN society and culture and the moral and ethical values of us as human beings will go any length to make a buck, and how we are just going down hill instead of rising up with YOGIC knowledge, wisdom.
    This is exactly why the ancient rishis(wise men/women) did not want to freely distribute the knowledge to all in general unless and until the student truly worked for it, deserved it and showed all signs of deserving of this knowledge being imparted. All under the name of freedom. SOme how the true believers of Yoga have to do something to stop this madness and downhill trend to let yoga be associated to with everything that is is exactly opposite of.

    Pratibha.

    Like

    Reply
  5. Dorris Scott

    Great article. Beer + yoga is a bad combination. I was thinking more of physical effects it does(dehydration, propensity to easily get tipsy due to practicing on an empty stomach) rather than the marketing involved. Thanks for highlighting that point.

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  6. Shelah Davis

    I am almost afraid to jump in here but….I founded a program that brings yoga practices to local craft breweries in South Florida. I pursued teaching because during my path, I was the big gal in yoga class. Always. And…I saw a need to make yoga more attainable, reachable, less intimidating for people like myself.

    We began the brewery classes for the same reason. To put yoga in a place that would make it more attainable for people who might otherwise be intimidated to step into a traditional studio. (I also lead classes in local parks and several studios locally)

    We saw a HUGE momentum of growth when we first launched. People from every aspect of life. All ages, All backgrounds. Joined us for classes and close to 75% of my brewery students are continuing to practice. Most of our classes included the yoga practice and a pint of craft brewed beverage. Kombucha, craft beer, wine and herbal teas.

    While I don’t support abuse of alcohol especially during practice, I do think that in order to bring the benefits of practice to more people, we need to open up a bit in our way of thinking. While a more relaxed practice may not be everyone’s cup of tea, some people need the less scary route to find their way to a more focused practice. 🙂

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    1. Aparna

      Yoga can be “scary” for many because it’s Eastern and has all this jargon like Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth), Pranayama (breath), etc. It isn’t as easy to understand as other forms of physical and mental practices.

      However, if you were looking at yoga from a pure physical point of view: i.e if you were to see as a workout..even then – it’s never really a good idea to drink after a work out. I mean, aren’t you negating the effects of what you just did in a work out? Sure, there are fun events in my town where you run 2 miles on a Friday evening and you get a free beer at the finish line. But, in general – most health experts would agree that alcohol isn’t a normal thing to have after a work out of any kind.

      I agree – I do think yoga should be made more accessible to the Western mind. But, it shouldn’t be diluted either.

      It shouldn’t be called yoga anymore if it includes beer afterwards..or that’s like the end game – relax your mind AND drink beer. It’s…something else.

      I’m not trying to be combative or anything and I understand the desire for a lot of business to tap into the yoga market.

      I’m just not sure how a beer after class helps people come to yoga. It’s because it relaxes them? But, isn’t the practice itself relaxing?

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      1. yogibattle Post author

        Thanks for your reply Aparna!

        I don’t think you are being combative at all. As Yoga teachers, we have to fight for our avocation. Commercialism in Yoga has become so rampant, few new practitioner are actually aware that there is a practice outside of posting selfies on Instagram. I would advise to instruct through your blog and private classes the correct practice and hope the message sticks and spreads. There are also Yoga chat rooms in FB and other social media. I have found many in those groups very resistant to classical yoga teachings if they don’t involve some type of YTT, 30 day challenge, or aromatherapy. Very sad how Yoga is becoming 😦

        Liked by 1 person

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