Many yoga practitioners often think that just because you have a regular yoga practice means that you're not supposed to indulge in certain "guilty" pleasures like drinking wine.
So I'd like to demystify what it means to be a yogi: I live a balanced, healthy, active lifestyle and I enjoy the finer pleasures in life, like an amazing glass of wine.
Transitioning through asanas, we access breath awareness, dive into sensations and focus on the present moment. From that first swirl of wine I use my senses in a similar way — from experiencing the aromas, to noticing how the wine begins to open up. I am fully present in each moment.
Here are a few more reasons why yoga and wine go hand-in-hand:
1. It's all about doing what feels good.
Part of a yoga practice emphasizes focusing on what feels good for the body. And learning what type of wine to enjoy contributes to the same process. Finding what is pleasing in a modification of a pose takes time and self-study. In the same way, learning about the varietal that tickles the taste buds, or how to pair wine with food takes personal experience and self-observation.
I believe in an intuitive based yoga practice will contribute positively to my experience on the mat. I also believe that the perfectly paired wine compliments a meal in a way that nothing else can. It's all about finding a balance and doing what feels good.
2. There's an opportunity for exploration.
I enjoy everything about a good glass of wine. From the color and aroma, to the taste and mouth feel, and the way it compliments any meal. These elements bring me into the present moment. The process of choosing a bottle of wine for the evening is like choosing what style of yoga to practice during the day.
Some days I feel enticed by a vigorous vinyasa and a full-bodied Bordeaux. Other times I prefer a Yin or restorative class that’s more mellow like a glass of Grenache. But more than anything, I enjoy the sensations of a lightly heated intermediate style practice and the flavor of a well-balanced Pinot Noir.
Depending on my mood, what sensations I want to explore and how I feel, will dictate what style practice or bottle of wine to enjoy. Learning how to connect the two concepts helped me bridge the gap between two of my greatest passions.
3. You feel connected to the energy of others.
One of my favorite ways to practice yoga is with a family member, friend or loved one on the mat next to me. This is also my favorite way to enjoy some vino! I will practice yoga alone, however it’s not the same as feeling connected to the energy of someone I care about next to me.
Similarly, to share in the enjoyment of a beautiful wine with others only enhances the experience. To connect with others through the pleasures of life, be it yoga, wine, or amazing food, is to contribute positively to your own life and theirs.
4. A healthy lifestyle is established.
It’s well known that yoga helps foster a healthy lifestyle. From building strength to relinquishing stress, yoga can contribute to your wellness. There is plenty of research that indicates a glass of wine can contribute positively to your health. Studies have shown that drinking a glass of wine promotes longevity and is also good for your heart. Science also says that red wine consumption can help you lose weight. Everything in moderation helps contribute to your health, so practice yoga without going overboard and drink wine without doing so in excess and you'll achieve a life well-balanced.
5. You can enjoy yoga and wine just about anywhere!
It’s fun to travel and experience different yoga studios, classes, techniques and instructors around the world. It’s also wonderful to go on a wine tasting or try different regions and varietals while abroad. I always recommend yoga first, hydrate second, enjoy food and wine third.
When traveling either for business or pleasure, we can continue to live healthfully, happily and balanced by seeking out new experiences in the world of yoga and that of wine. Be inquisitive, adventurous and explore both! There’s actually no real rule that says to be a yogi you can’t enjoy the pleasures of wine, so stop and smell the grapes!
6. Maturation is part of both practices.
There are many parallels between a bottle of wine and the human body. Just as the body goes through a maturing process, so does a bottle of wine.
As the grapes are hand-picked from the vines, they go through a crush and maturation process. Afterward, the finely groomed juice is put into fermentation tanks. This is the maturing process, aka puberty, if you will. The two elements of sugar and yeast then create alcohol. There is a specific timeframe when the grape is perfectly ready and this chemical reaction can occur. The wine is then placed into beautiful 500 gallon 100% French, American or Hungarian oak to rest before it's bottled. That's when it's ready to leave the nest to be shipped.
As wine is placed into the bottle, its maturity thus far has been carefully captured, only to rest for a little while longer before it's ready to drink. Does this sound familiar? As we are born into this world, we are helpless without our parents or caregivers. But as our life progresses and we mature with age, we start to leave our families, head off to college and start a career. We eventually have our own families, but not until we feel that we have fully matured and are ready.
When we dive into a balanced yoga practice, it is because the teacher has warmed us up and our minds and bodies are ready for it. It's not recommended to hop on your mat and jump right into a challenging pose. Same as wine, we relax and sit down to indulge in a beautiful glass of Riesling, not just to pop the cork and guzzle from the bottle.
All of this is similar to setting an intention for your practice, preparing you for the next step, or your first sip, and the culmination of your experience.