Yoga and Wine


Devoted yogi, devoted wino. The two exist in me in perfect harmony.

But the brain-washing powers of the health and exercise industry will have us believe that the two can not become one. Yoga is healthy. Wine is bad. Labels, labels, labels. And so you might try and put thoughts of a cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc out of your mind as you bend and sweat away in yoga, trying to make your mind go blank (that’s what meditation is, right??!). And then you go home and give into your urges of pleasure and then suffer the hangover of guilt for breaking your chastity with a carnal fluid. When did pleasure get such a bad rep?

But what if life didn’t have to be like that? What if you got to be a devoted yogi, perfecting your practice day by day and also got to give your body all the pleasures it wants and deserves. I do yoga every single day. I also drink wine every single day. I feel fantastic (some days more than others). I don’t feel guilty about it. And after years of Downward Dogs and even more years of wine, the more and more similarities I have noticed between the two.

Breath

The most essential and fundamental principle of yoga is the breath. The breath is what connects our physical body to our spiritual presence and thus to collective consciousness (without getting too new-agey). Bringing attention to the breath is yoga. If you are doing that you are doing yoga, regardless of whether you’re in a sauna doing Bikram or in bed doing Savasana.
Enjoying wine also requires breath and oxygen. We breath it in before, after and during tasting. And the process of oxidation is an important one in wine making that has an incredible impact on the final creation.

Mindfulness

Another fundamental principle of yoga is mindfulness. Also translated as awareness or being present, being right here right now. We might think we are present every second of the day, but actually are way off in our heads – back to the past or fast forward to the future. Yoga grounds us to the Now, because that is all we have. We step out of the role of judge and simply observe: notice what is there without judgment.
Yoga teaches us that there are no negative or positive events. Only events, and our perception endows them with “good” or “bad”–ness. Yoga helps us come out of the throes of our emotionally driven perception and into a state of neutrality. Now this is where yoga and wine may be at loggerheads: if everything is neutral then there are no good or bad wines. And without a degree of judgment how could the wine makers create wines that are sensational.

Attention to the body and the senses

Yoga brings us into the present moment and into our bodies. The sensations in our bodies give us that point of focus on which to meditate. When we become consumed with a single point of focus, our chattering minds recede and all that exists for us is that focal point. That is meditation. It doesn’t matter what the point of focus is – a sound, a spot on the wall, the scent in our glass.
Wine tasting requires a similar one-pointed focus on the body through the organs that let us taste, feel, see and smell the beauty of wine.

Balance

It’s all about balance – in a wine’s structure, a vine’s growth and, some may advocate, in the quantity of wine consumed (moderation!). Yoga also instills balance. And not just when it comes to headstands, handstands and Scorpion pose.
Yoga helps us balance the two sides of us – our masculine side and our feminine side. (NB: Masculine does not equal male; feminine does not equal female). We live in a masculine world where success, ambition, achievement, logic and science are valued over creativity, spontaneity, intuition, feelings and relationships. Our masculine energies are in over drive, as people and as a planet.
Yoga helps nurture our feminine side – the centre of pleasure, creativity and intuition – to bring us back to balance so that our logical minds may follow the intuitive desires of the heart.
Wine making requires balance between science and art. Drive, focus and mental arithmetic – the domain of the masculine– help winemakers turn inspiration from the feminine side into form.

Love

The love and attention that goes into wine making – that’s yoga: that whole hearted and one track minded devotion to the task in hand. One is at one with the task and it is done with love. How many halfhearted wine makers do you think exist out there? Exactly. One could say wine makers are yogis practising Karma Yoga – “the process of achieving perfection in action”. The word karma comes from the Hindi verb “to do”. And indeed anyone who works in such a way – be they sweeping streets, baking cakes or typing admin – is practicing karma yoga.

Nature

Wine – like most things – comes from nature. Yoga teaches that everything is connected to everything else. That means we are connected to nature and are part of nature and are nature. We are wine! Enjoying wine is having reverence for nature and acknowledging the seamless continuum between the vine’s roots and the sumptuous liquid in our glasses and tummies.

Play

Through the practice of yoga and the reconciliation of our masculine and feminine sides – one neither better than the other – we learn how to live a life more spontaneous. Less holding onto plans, rules and Shoulds. We learn how to play and enjoy life and enjoy pleasure, without being weighed down by the Draconian notion of guilt. And what a perfect environment in which to enjoy wine. Namaste… and santé!