Thursday, November 10, 2011

Drunken Yoga

I have taken class in less than desirable conditions, as we all have. Maybe we haven't drank enough water. Maybe we were out too late the night before enjoying libations. Maybe we were out just a few hours ago and the libations are still in our system making us just a little more than tipsy. Yeah. I've done that.

In my defense I did not know I was getting drunk. No, really, I had no idea. Okay, a little idea, but I was pretty sure I was in control of the situation. As in most instances where I think I am in control, I found out I was not.

The day was sunny and warm. The sort of day that people call in sick to take a walk and contemplate never going to work again. Fortunately, I am a freelance designer which means I can take a walk whenever I feel like it, as long as the work gets done. On this particular day, I had most of the day free and decided to knock off early and enjoy the sunshine. Walking through my neighborhood gave me that complete feeling that inspires one to eat nice things and maybe drink a beer. "Have a summer," I've heard it called.

That's exactly what I did. I stopped in at the corner book store, grabbed a novel comprised of essays I could easily drift in and out of without missing too much and proceeded to one of my favorite bars. I sat in the large front window watching the main-street scene in front of me. I grabbed a nearly black beer (of which I am more than a little fond) and munched on a salad with corn/thyme dressing (balance, right?). I polished both off and, not wanting the glorious day to end, turned and asked the nice man behind the bar for a non-alcoholic beer suggestion. The last yoga class of the day was in two hours and I was already feeling euphoric.*

I explained to the man behind the bar that I had a passion for dark beers but would settle for anything made from a hop with low or no alcohol. The nice man pulled out a small sample for me of some very black ooze. I realized that with over 100 beers to choose from, 25 on tap, I had come to the right place. A velvety beer with no alcohol! Jackpot! I loved it, yes, I would have a glass of that one!

I went back to reading my book with a tall non-alcoholic black hole of a beer to sip on. Euphoria sustained.

Half a glass later, I was enjoying my book even more. In fact, for a book detailing the fall of Russia, this was a hoot! Three-fourths of the pint through, my waitress ran up to me in a panic. "I don't know why you needed a non-alchoholic beer, but this isn't it! I am so sorry, you weren't talking to the bartender, that was a bus-boy." She went on to explain that I was drinking something called Nosferatu, the name itself hinting with a sledgehammer that this is not a beer to be trifled with. This beer's alcohol content is 8.0%, considerably higher than standard beers. Because of the high content, the bar usually pours this beer into a snifter, not a giant pint glass, like I had been pulling off of. My book's sudden hilarity made far more sense.

Being on a consecutive 60 day challenge, I wasn't about to let a little Nosferatu get in the way of my yoga. In fact, I figured, this may just be the day I cut out half-way through pranayama breathing to take a 90-minute hot nap. I waltzed into class, lightly sloshy.

My first backbend pretty well told the story of that whole class. I stood straight, pulled my arms tight over my head, leaned my head back as far as it would go and pushed my hips to the front mirror. I was pushing and stretching so good I anticipated staring at my own buttocks. Blearily, I could tell it was not my own butt I was staring at, but, rather, the pebbly surface of our ceiling. The facts laid out by my vision were telling me I had succeeded in tilting my head back an inch or two.

To make a 90-minute story short, I made it through the class sloppily but intact; no nap needed. I headed to the locker room after final savasana and my friend, who had the unfortunate mat position by my side, glowered at me, "Beer and corn? What the hell did you eat? The whole class smelled like beer and corn?!" It took me a while to catch on that the corn was the dressing on the salad, but the beer I knew right away.

This friend and I laugh about our exploits a lot, realizing this is not how a regular yoga practice "should" go. My thought on that is that none of us are perfect. Realistically, I am not going to stop drinking (although not before class if I can help it), give all my worldly possessions to charity, or live on a mountain. That's not where my karma is. My karma is being the best Kate I can be, (maybe that means I can encourage folks with lifestyles like mine that you can do yoga; it's not all willowy women in flowing white tunics foraging for mushrooms). Sometimes being my best "me" means admitting where I am at any given moment and doing the best I can to meet my personal goals with where I am. Sometimes that will mean a lesson learned for next time, sometimes it will not. Either way, continuing with a light heart will get me much further than chastising myself, or that darned bus-boy.

* Since picking up daily yoga I have become an incredibly cheap date. I thought I would mind, I used to enjoy drinking large muscly men with tattooed faces under the table only to turn around and have a pleasant conversation with my friends over another beer. I have, however, discovered that the cost savings far outweigh the swell of pride from an over-achieving liver.


  1. I cant even practice after drinking the day before! But I know people who do it all of the time! More power to you ladies :)

  2. I never said it was a bright move on my part. :P The good news is, every time I think, "Oh lord, I CAN NOT practice in this condition!" I step in the room and surprise myself. It gives me confidence for the next time too. I can't count how many times since this experience I have thought, "Well, at least Im not drunk."

  3. Last thanksgiving, I had a few cosmos then went to class the next day. It was the worst class I'd had at that point and have only had a few surpass it. I was less than a month into yoga and knew that, for me, drinking and yoga do not mix within a 24 hour time frame. My challenge really cut down on my alcohol consumption and I haven't gone back. Even in times like now when I don't have a regular practice, I still don't drink (though holistic nutrition school can turn you off of just about everything). Everyone's experience is different but I can't wrap my mind around wanting to inflict a horrible class on oneself. I'll let you have my drink, Kate!