When I started regularly doing yoga a few years ago (unfortunately I have since lapsed), I began to notice an interesting phenomenon. If I grabbed a drink within an hour or two after class, my tolerance for alcohol was seriously diminished. In fact, it only took about one drink before I was essentially three sheets in (unusual for me, at the time).
This was beginner’s yoga too; no bikram or real high-intensity poses. The most extreme it got was the occasional assisted headstand or extended plank pose, held somewhere far beyond my very comfortable comfort zone. The class, which focused on the process of breathing in yoga, was welcoming of all skill levels, but for the most part it was amateur hour in there.
So what was going on in those sessions to make me the world’s cheapest date after class; what had the yogis long figured out? It could not merely be dehydration—I rarely broke much of a sweat, I kept well-hydrated, and high-powered, cardio workouts didn’t seem to have the same effect. Furthermore, I usually fell asleep in the ten minutes at the end of class spent in corpse pose, when our leading yogi chanted at us soothingly from overhead about the energy dancing on the tips of our noses.
I’ve heard about feeling “intoxicated” from a particularly good yoga session, but this seemed like something else entirely. I also know drinking alcohol after a workout is not particularly recommended, as it can disrupt the body’s natural healing process.
Could it have to do with facilitated blood flow in the body after this kind of aerobic workout? None of the other usual factors for gauging susceptibility — exhaustion, hunger, etc. — seemed to come into play. Was there a lurking variable—did I tend to go to yoga more when I was particularly stressed and sleep-deprived? Was it some sort of magical process beyond my understanding? One friend reports crying from relief during many of her yoga sessions, citing a feeling of release she says stems from her hips.
“That’s where we hold our tension,” she says. I have always been skeptical.
Scientists and health experts tend to point to the practical, while many yoga practitioners look to the spiritual or transcendental when explaining the effects of yoga. My curiosity on the subject lingers as I have still found no explanation.
If you’re looking to make use of this tactic, be mindful that it’s very important to stay hydrated both after a workout and while consuming alcohol, respectively. It’s never worth sacrificing your wellbeing for a cheap, quick buzz.