Photo: Gabrianna Dacko

It's not just an annoying trend—it's dangerous.

Rochelle Bilow
October 31, 2017

I’m a yoga teacher. I practice vinyasa yoga almost every day, and I teach multiple classes a week. I also love beer. And wine. And tequila! But there’s one trend I just can’t condone, and it’s the “drunk yoga” that’s been sweeping the internet as of late.

I’m not talking about pop-up yoga classes at breweries, because — full disclosure — I attend one of those regularly. Hosting yoga classes at non-studio locations is a smart way to reach new students, and it’s also a great way for teachers to boost their weekly class schedule. But there’s a difference between dedicating an hour to mindful effort in yoga class and then rewarding yourself with a drink… and attempting to focus in virabhadrasana III — that’s warrior three — with a wine glass in your hand.

No, I’m talking about yoga sessions that incorporate drinking into the poses, include a drink in the cost of class, or even playfully encourage over-consumption.

Yoga means different things for different people. For some, it’s a physical workout. For others, it’s a spiritual practice. For others still, it’s a way to heal emotional wounds or still a busy mind. I won’t mince my words: The consumption of alcohol is in direct opposition to every single one of those goals. It’s still enjoyable, and it can still be a part of a healthy, modern life — but it’s simply not on the same plane as yoga. As with all indulgences and treats, alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. Using a sacred spiritual tradition (yes, yoga is more than just a butt-boosting workout) to rationalize getting tipsy isn’t just silly; it’s disrespectful.

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As for the argument that a little “liquid courage” can help shy first-timers ease into the practice? I don’t buy it. A skilled yoga teacher aims to create a warm, judgment-free and welcoming space in which all students feel empowered to explore the practice. Relying on alcohol to do that job is lazy.

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Beyond the existential arguments I have against the fad (and let’s hope it is just a fad), I firmly believe that drinking alcohol during a yoga practice is dangerous. Feeling emboldened after a cosmo might convince a student that he or she is ready to attempt physically challenging postures, such as a headstand or a deep backbend. As with overly-heated rooms that trick our joints into thinking they are loose and strong enough, alcohol can cloud our judgment when making decisions about our bodies and abilities. Those intense, “next level” poses are best attempted with the aid and supervision of a teacher, and with a clear mind.

We Western yogis are a complex bunch: We crave the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits reaped from a yoga practice, but we also adore novelty, love a good time, and believe that we are entitled to have fun at every waking moment. (That last one sure sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud.) I encourage all curious about yoga to give it a sober try; you just may surprise yourself at how much you love it.

As for myself? I’ll be enjoying my IPA after my final “om” of the day.