You Can’t Be A Yogi If . . . .

This morning I read an interesting question, “Are yoga and coffee compatible?”  The person asking was doing a bit of research for an upcoming article about yoga and coffee.

There were many, many responses from coffee drinking yogis.  There were one or two responses from non-coffee-drinking yogis.  If you know me well, you know I was one of those few.  It doesn’t require much caffeine to make this body jittery and agitate the mind.  Another person then wrote the following:

So is alcohol …. and yet most of my Yogi friends and colleagues drink … It doesn’t work for me so I don’t drink . I’m not judging …. just as I would hope the non- coffee drinkers on this thread are for us coffee drinkers.

The whole conversation and especially the comment above reminded me of the many times I’ve heard others say, “You can’t be a real yogi if . . . .”  The comment itself seemed to imply that those of us who do not partake may believe we are somehow superior.  If there is such a division, if any of us can do anything to somehow make ourselves superior, then how can there be yoga, union?

The biggest evil, non-yogi vice tends to be meat.  “A real yogi would never eat meat,” goes the litany.  Such pronouncements are usually dressed in some very powerful self-righteousness or, at the least, passive pity for the poor, deluded, carnivorous soul.

Now, it’s true that I do not drink coffee or alcohol nor do I eat meat.  The first two began because I adhere to the LDS faith but now I simply find that I do not like even the smell of coffee and my exceptionally limited experience with beer at age 8 left me with little desire for alcohol.  Meat was a different story, even a small bite of meat now puts me on the floor in pain; so, it’s off the table for me.  What about the “you can’t be a yogi if . . . .” comments?

Show me anywhere in the yoga sutras where PataƱjali wrote “No Coffee!” or “No Alcohol!” or even “No Meat!” for that matter.

“Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.”  What you consume will either be a benefit or a detriment to that.

I trust the integrity of your practice.  If coffee or alcohol or meat helps still the mind, then consume it.  If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Is there a need to say anything more than that?

Jai Bhagwan