Coffee With Yoga: Inspiration And Pain Relief Is There

Coffee and yoga.

Coffee and yoga have an estranged relationship. On the surface it would seem that coffee runs counter to the pervasive "shanti" aesthetic that yoga promotes. And reluctantly, I probably concur, despite the captivating claptrap argued below.

I speak specifically about coffee achievers hung up on yoga. It's a phenonmenon. There's even a blog that specializes in the two.

I love coffee, so guess you could say that I am among them. It's a good mix; like chocolate and peanut butter. Or more painfully, Starbucks and Jivamukti. But I digress. My main point is that legions of practitioners are avid fans; moreover, even the living masters celebrate the brew—

"Afterwards, all adjourned upstairs for yet more coffee, and of course, conversation about coffee... There was general agreement with Mr. Iyengar that coffee is certainly the soma rasa (the intoxicating nectar of immortality) of the Kali yuga (the present age of darkness) —to which Pattabhi Jois added, yes, and you get so many different brands of soma rasa in the shops these days!"
Eddie Stern, Namarupa IV (2006)

Sri K Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar on the cover of Namarupa magazine.

Certainly Jois & Iyengar were kidding around a bit, as coffee drinkers are known to do. But the simple fact remains that they are fans of the brew.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship between coffee and yoga but my conclusions have the shelf life of an espresso shot. That is to say, nothing conclusive. For example, in Ayurveda, coffee should technically be classified as a bitter, no? If so, then the brew ought to be good for people with prominent pitta defects. Of course we know that the arc of the coffee buzz tragically escalates the flame-up and burn-out temperament common to those of us with pitta defects. This may be why the masters enjoy coffee with heaps of "sattvic" milk and sugar —to mitigate the potholes.

But recently I stumbled upon a blog entry: Coffee better than ibuprofen at relieving workout pain.

And it was an "Aha!" moment.

Beyond the delicious taste and the notorious pick-me-up that coffee graces upon the enjoyer, it relieves pain.

And what does pain have to do with yoga? Well that's a sticky question. In that world of ideals which are so apt to be peddled under the yoga masthead, yoga and pain are oppositional. But in the simple, honest, day-to-day practice —sometimes things get kinked up. Our poses eventually become challenging or difficult, our breathing might escape our awareness. And at some point or another, we encounter the ever-present quagmire of our limitations. At such times we breathe, and continue to attempt the pose. And (if you're anything like me) the mind wanders elsewhere, or you try too hard... AND...

Caffeine rush.


The party line in Ashtanga Yoga —which I wholeheartedly embrace— is that pain is trapped air, stagnant prana.

Enough said.

Occasionally we hear rumors of vain attempts to cut the edge from some pain during practice by using Ibuprofen. But that's a duct taped solution to a deeper backbend problem. More common, however, are the confessions of moka-pot espresso in the morning about an hour or two before practice —the same timing used in the study.

Coffee does more than help us wake up and clear the bowels —it helps to relieve discomfort from muscle soreness. Of course there may be a difference between a yoga practice and a "workout," but our technique has been confirmed. On the simple pleasure-pain axis of muscular experience, yoga and coffee is a good mix.

But before ya'll get too excited, beware. The study was conducted exclusively upon women, so who knows if it holds true for men? Furthermore, we must acknowledge that sometimes pain there for a reason. Hence we might be wise to approach the practice differently, rather than merely continuing the current track of suffering with "medication."

Me? —I stopped my lovely ritual shot of espresso in the wee hours and replaced it with a shot of fresh, hot, ginger tea. It's really yummy too. Warms me up just fine.

Images: Wikipedia coffee cup; detail from the cover of Namarupa IV; a promotional graphic from February's Veer email.

posted by
Spiros Antonopoulos

TAGS — ashtanga yoga, BKS Iyengar, caffeine, coffee, practice, science, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, yoga


6 total remarks for this post. Add your own remarks below.

Fri 09 Feb 2007 at 08:27AM


In "Bliss Divine" Swami Sivananda wrote "before asana practice take some tea, take some coffee." Works for me.

Fri 09 Feb 2007 at 08:37AM

Spiros Antonopoulos

So Sivananda can also be ranked with the great masters who enjoy coffee (or tea).

Maybe I resume my pre-practice coffee again...

Fri 09 Feb 2007 at 04:18PM


We get up before the sun! Of course we love coffee.

Sat 10 Feb 2007 at 02:46PM


"And what does pain have to do with yoga?"


Mon 12 Feb 2007 at 02:02PM


LOL! Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

I think a better title of my coffee/yoga post would be to mention that my coffee consumption is unbalanced. Too much coffee, not enough yoga.

Your blog is great! I read through a bunch of posts just now. I will bookmark it.

Sun 22 Apr 2007 at 08:19PM


The only thing that gets me out of bed and to the mat is knowing that i have set up the expresso maker the night before and all i gotta do is turn the knob and coffee hit is moments away...

Add Remarks

Please be nice.

Your name is required.

An email address is required.


Remember this information

What You May Have Recently Missed

Fri 29 Jun

David Milch Says, "See God Kai!"

05:20 PM


It's not often that a popular television series attempts to grapple with trans-human, non-dual concepts. But David Milch's new series on HBO, John From Cincinnati, does just that. Let's just toy with the idea that we are all one...

Thu 28 Jun

Meditation, Memory Concentrate

01:51 PM


Who doesn't think meditation improves concentration and memory? I suppose it's akin to driving a car and learning about the roads. This week the meme sprouted on the interwebs— Meditate To Concentrate Brain scans show meditation changes minds, increases...

Wed 27 Jun

On Bhairava, Naths And Dunis (Oh My!)

03:50 PM


The Dhuni is not a simple camp fire. It was viewed by the Nath as a living deity, emblematic as the womb of the Earth Goddess from which all manifestation was generated, sustained, and destroyed. Although many cultures have...

Thu 21 Jun

Om Surya! Northern Solstice, Earth Bows To Sun

01:43 PM


Northern solstice happens today! Some 24,000 sun worshipers gather for ancient fest. Link. Summer Solstice: How and Why Seasons Change. Link. Wikipedia on Solstices. Link....

Tue 19 Jun

Sritattvanidhi Ganapati, Illuminated Manuscript

06:24 PM


" iconographic treatise written in the 19th century in Karnataka by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III... The Maharaja was a great patron of art and learning and was himself a scholar and writer. There are around...

Tue 12 Jun

Out of Ourselves: Spiritual Music, David Byrne, Daniel Levitin

06:19 PM


Perched at the collision of yoga with popular culture, Souljerky has spent considerable time contemplating music and spirit and culture. So when David Byrne and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music) broached the topic, we had...

Fri 08 Jun

Subtle Revolution: Yoga, Authority, + the Conspiracy of 1

12:10 PM


I've got some revolutionary yoga vibrations careening through the mindscreen right now, my own private Operation Garden Plot. A work-in-progress, a theory & practice where there is no escape. We is I. You are them. They are us. Wherever...

Fri 01 Jun

India's Yoga Patent Showdown

11:49 AM


How can any Tom, Dick and Harry, who has no true knowledge of Yoga, can get patent of Yoga, the traditional knowledge of India?Swami Ramdev Fake Babas and others who regularly consume liquor or eat meat have mushroomed in large...

Tue 29 May

Palm Leaves To Bits - Google To Digitize Mysore Library

01:58 PM


Written in both papers and palm leaves, there are around 100,000 manuscripts in our library, some dating back to the eighth century. The effort is to restore and preserve this cultural heritage for effective dissemination of knowledge... J Shashidhara Prasad,...

Fri 25 May

Kah Ra Shin: Violent Path to Happiness Commence

05:24 PM


Kah Ra Shin: Violent Path to Happiness Commence With Loud Gutteral Scream Link....

Linked Title
Advertiser's Ad text here

random photo


First and foremost our gratitude goes out to Astanga Yoga New York & Sri Ganesha Temple, without which the Sri Ganesha Tea & Book Stall would never have incarnated. Secondly our deepest respect and praise goes to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. We are also indebted and inspired by the efforts of Namarupa Magazine. For further inspiration, check out our links. test


2012, A.G. Mohan, academic, Advaita Vedanta, advertising, Aghora, Aghori, ajna, Alan Watts, Alice Coltrane, Allen Ginsberg, Alzheimers, ambient, America, Ammachi, ancestors, anger, animation, animism, ants, anxiety, apocalypse, apple, archaic revival, archeology, Ardh Kumbh, army, art, asana, ashtanga yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, astronomy, astroturfing, atlantis, attention, audio, Aum, Avalokiteshwara, ayurveda, Ayurveda, B flat, B. Alan Wallace, babas, Barnaby Harris, baseball, BBC, Beatles, beauty, Bhairava, bhajan, bhakti, bhangra, Bhutan, Bikram Choudhury, BKS Iyengar,, blood, blue, Blue Buddha, Bollywood, books, Borges, Brahma, Brahma Sutras, brain, Bruce Sterling, Buddhism, Burning Man, business, caffeine, California, Cambodia, Canada, cancer, capitalism, Carl Gustav Jung, Carl Sagan, Carnatic music, celebrity, chai, chakras, Chi, Chicago, chillums, China, Chinese Medicine, Christian Science Monitor, Christianity, Christmas, citta, clay, clumps, coffee, color, combat, comics, communes, communication, commuting, compassion, concentration, conference, consciousness, conspiracy, consulting, contract, copyright, cosmology, cow, crazy wisdom, criticism, cults, culture, D.H. Lawrence, Dalai Lama, dance, Daniel Dennet, Daniel Pinchbeck, darshan, David Byrne, David Milch, daydreams, death, debunkers, Deleuze, delhi, demonstration, depression, Derek Ireland, Details, dharma, Dhuni, digestion, digital, DJ Rekha, DMT, documentary, Donnovan, dreadlocks, druids, DVD, Dzogchen, ear, Earth, economics, Eddie Stern, education, ego, egolessness, electricity, enlightenment, environment, Erik Davis, eternal, event, extraterrestrials, fabric, farming, festivals, fiction, film, fire, Flash, flicker, Flickr, food, fool, Fourth Way, Francesco Clemente, Frank Morales, free, Fuck Yoga, funeral, fungus, futurism, GABA, gallery, Ganapati, Ganesha, Ganga, Ganges, Gaza, gear, generosity, genetic engineering, geohistory, Georg Feuerstein, George Harrison, George Soros, glossolalia, glow, God, goji berries, Goldie Hawn, Google, gossip, Grady McMurtry, graffiti, Greece, Greek gods, Greek Orthodox, Gujarat, Gurdjieff, guru, Guru Nanak, gymnastics, Hanuman, happiness, HBO, health, heavy metal, high, Himalayan, Hinduism, hip hop, hippie, history, holiday, Hollywood, holy, home furnishings, homosexuality, Hong Kong, householder, Huffington Post, illuminated manuscript, India, Indiaspora, Indology, inspiration, intelligence, intent, IPO, Iron Maiden, irritation, ISKON, Islam, Italy, J. Krishnamurti, Jai Uttal, Jamaica, Janmaashtami, Japan, Jesus, Jewish, JG Ballard, jnana, John Coltrane, John Law, John Lennon, Jonas Meka, journalism, Jung, Kah Ra Shin, kaivalya, Kapal Nath, karma, Kazakhstan, Keith Dowman, Kerala, ketamine, KGB, kirtan, koan, Krishna, kundalini, kung-fu, LA Times, lan Watts, landlord, landscape, language, law, lecture, library, life, lifestyle, light, listening, LiveScience, LSD, Lululemon, machine, magical thinking, Magickal Childe, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, maps, Maragatham Ramaswamy, marijuana, marketing, martial arts, Master Ren Guang Yi, media, medicine, meditation, mela, memory, Merzbow, Metal Machine Music, MIA, Michael Pollan, milk, mind, Mind Hacks, mindfulness, miracles, mirror neurons, modernization, monad, money, monks, Mooshika, MP3, mp3, muppets, murti, music, Mysore, mythology, nada, nadis, Naga, Nagas, Nalanda, NASA, Naths, Nepal, nerves, nervous system, neuroscience, new age, New Scientist, New York City, Newar, NFL, Nick Madrid, noise, non-profit, nondual, noodle, Norway, NPR, nueroscience, NYC, NYT, observation, occult, Olympics, organic food, orientalism, outsourcing, oxygen, painting, Pankaj Mishra, paradox, paranormal, Passover, patent, peace, PETA, Peter Guttridge, pharmaceuticals, philosophy, photography, pilgrimage, pitcher, PJ O'Rourke, podcast, poetry, police, pollution, pornography, portrait, pot, potter, practice, prana, prayer, Preah Maha Ghosananda, prehistory, press, procrastination, prosperity, prostrations, psychedelia, puppets, puzzles, pyre, pyschogeography, quantum theory, quote, R. Buckminster Fuller, R. Sharath, radical, raga, Rastafarian, rats, RAW, reality, reality tunnels, red, reincarnation, religion, research, Rev Run, rice, Richard Gere, Rick Ross, Rick Rubin, rickshaws, Ricky Williams, rings, Rishikesh, Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Beer, Robert Svoboda, Robert Thurman, robzombie, Rodney Yee, Rudy Rucker, Russell Simmons, sacred, saddhus, saints, Salvador DalĂ­, Sanskrit, satan, satellite, Saturday, Saturn, scandal, schools, science, sculpture, seasons, seedmagazine, Segway, self, selfless, semiotics, sensationalism, Sepia Mutiny, Seva, sex, shamanism, Shambhala, Shani, Shankacharya, Shiva, SIdd Fynch, Siddhartha Shah, siddhis, Sikh, sin, Sinagpore, Slate, sleep, smashan, smell, snakes, solar, solstice, sound, soundtracks, South India, soy, space travel, spiritual, spirituality, sport, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, stain, Stefanie Syman, stereotypes, Stonehenge, street, Sufi, sugar, sun, Sun City Girls, surgery, Surya, swami, Swami Ramdev, swastika, symbolism, symphony, tabloid, Tai Chi, tantra, tattva, tea, teaching, teastall, technology, teen fiction, telephone centers, television, temple, temporal, Terence McKenna, the 60's, The Matrix, the street, The Wire, Thelema, Theosophy, thoughts, Tibet, tiffin, time, Times Square, Timothy Leary, TKDL, Toby Sifton, tourism, toxic, tradition, trailer, training, transgender, Transrealism, Treehugger, Trinidad, triphala, tshirts, Turmeric, UBUWEB, UG Krishnamurti, underground, uniform, unreal, urban culture, USDA, Utne, Varanasi, Vatican, Vedas, vegetarianism, vending, veterans, video, violence, visionquest, Vivekananda, vridian, VS Ramachandran, Vyaas Houston, war, Washington Post, water, Wavy Gravy, wealth, weddings, witchcraft, witches, woodstock, world, worldview, worship, Yama, yamas, yoga, Yoga Action Squad, yoga criminals, yoga gear, Yoga Inc., yoga mats, yoga mom, yoga products, Yoga Sutras, yoga teaching, yogi, youth, YouTube, Youtube, zen, zombies, Zulu


  • articles 69 posts
  • raga dvesha 223 posts

XML Feeds You Us

Subscribe to our RSS feed!


Foremost credit goes to my wife Erin for her tireless patience + support of this endeavor. Thanks to Barry Silver for the artwork in the above banner and for his friendship, to Robert Beer for the illustrations. Thanks to Eddie Stern for his ongoing support and for providing inspiration. Thanks to my fellow farmers at One Digital Farm for help growing this.

The Last Words