When is Just Yoga Enough?

Trust that yoga is enough by itself

BY JORDAN COHEN

The benefits of a yoga practice can’t be underestimated.   Practice increases strength and flexibility, relieves the symptoms of depression and anxiety and protects your brain against the effects of aging.   Oh - and let’s not forget that blissful feeling and glow you get after a particularly invigorating or inspiring yoga class.

Given these benefits one would think that yoga would be enough.  But is it? Yoga began long ago and incredibly, is still here. Its longevity and continued relevance and growth is due to the transformational power of its teachings; not gimmicks.

There has been a dramatic increase in offerings such as Cat Yoga, Goat Yoga, Tantrum Yoga (no - not Tantra) and Karaoke Yoga.  Now there is also Drunk Yoga. Alcohol feels good and so does yoga so, of course, they belong together, right?

The guru at Drunk Yoga has trademarked the phrase “drunk yoga” lest anyone encroach upon this innovative idea.  Classes are held in bars and pubs. Recently a Drunk Yoga class was held on a yacht! OMG -Maybe a Kardashian will be there!?  These are not classes where you grab a glass of wine with a fellow yogi afterwards. Students drink during class raising wine glasses while actually in the poses.  

Full disclosure; I have never attended a Drunk Yoga class.   But, I can imagine what they might be like. Ok, now raise up into keg-stand.  Next, Vodkasana (drunken crow) Cheers! and now return to your ujjayi beer breath.

I get it.  I understand what it takes to expose people to yoga who are hesitant to walk into a yoga studio.  I also know it’s hard to do something good for you that takes effort when there are so many damn pleasurable things to do that don’t.   I write this as I am eyeing my second croissant of the morning.

But perhaps this is getting out of hand?  Maybe when the “feel good” thing combined with yoga undermines the core teachings of the practice it is just too far and too great a price to pay.   Sure, yoga takes some effort and yes, it takes time and commitment for the benefits of the practice to appear in your life. Sometimes it might not “feel good” in the moment, but this too is a chance to deepen your practice as you face these challenges head-on and - hopefully - sober.   That’s kind of the point isn’t it? Why dull the very senses we seek to heighten?

I do not mean by reflecting on these things that yoga need be a serious endeavour.  Not at all. The practice of yoga can and should be joyful and of course, feel good.  I have smiled and laughed in many yoga classes and made gentle fun of myself after crashing face-first into the mat.  But I have also cried and experienced profound moments of insight. By continuing to practice and linking those insights together I have also felt myself transforming.  It’s hard to image I would have had these experiences while drunk - but tell me about these goats again?

4 thoughts on “When is Just Yoga Enough?”

  1. For me, just yoga is for sure enough, right now. Nothing against goats or drunkenness; just goats and just drunkenness are enough too.

  2. Yes yoga is enough, but I can see in our culture, especially when asana is so widely practiced, where people may get “bored.” The moment we begin to feel bored in anything we do, is a chance to explore further… are we looking deep enough? Are we afraid what lies ahead? I remember in middle school my drama teacher used to tell us boredom was a sign of the inability to be creative! And if we need alcohol to practice yoga, then that ends our journey in yoga ends in a vodkasana.

  3. Yoga is enough for me. It has been my source of calm the last couple of weeks as I process the death of my father. Stretching, breathing, focusing on being still…that’s enough for me. I always leave the studio full of positive energy, not to mention drenched in sweat.

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