Alcohol’s effects begin the moment we take our first sip
This is not dramatic- it’s fact. As soon as your body recognizes alcohol has been ingested it goes into “high alert” and begins to counteract its effects. See, alcohol is toxic to your body and your body's job is to keep you alert and alive, so it immediately goes into overdrive survival mode producing adrenaline, cortisol, and dynorphin. This counteractive self-made cocktail is part of why most people wake up in the wee hours of the night- wide awake or worse, with anxiety or in a panic. It’s also the cause of the Hangover anxiety. So, you see, we think we are drinking to relax, when in fact we are doing just the opposite. Yes, the buzz, I know. For sure, it's there for ONLY the amount of time it takes for your body to counteract it. Every person's time frame is different but the process is the exact same for everyone.
I truly believe that we can do better when we know better. I hope that the time for that is now. I am not driven to change the world but I am inspired to navigate change in what/how we train Yoga teachers and challenge Yoga Studio owners to reconsider marketing their events with alcohol.
The most basic turn your head facts about alcohol.
Alcohol is toxic to our bodies. It circulates and injures every cell it touches. Not just one or two organs.
It is classified as a poison by physicians and pharmacologists. As far as your body is concerned you would be about as reasonable to take arsenic, cyanide, or strychnine as to take alcohol.
Muscular strength and bone weight are gradually reduced by drinking.
A person drinking regularly over time increases their risk of cancer.
Moderate drinking is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Over 100 epidemiologic studies have linked an increased risk of breast cancer with alcohol intake. Alcohol is linked to 75% of cancer of the esophagus cancer.
The American Cancer Society's new recommended intake of alcohol is ZERO.
Alcohol injures our hearts. Drinking over a long time or too much on a single occasion can cause damage. Cardiomyopathy -stretching of the heart muscles. Arrhythmias- irregular heartbeat, Stroke, High Blood Pressure. Tests have shown heart muscles being injured by small doses of 90-proof alcohol.
It injures our brain cells. Injured brain cells are unable to form the protein material needed for complex memory structures. Memory is further decreased because alcohol interferes with dream time (3 am wake-ups)
Nerves are injured by alcohol making them less able to respond to stimuli.
Our livers malfunction even with “social” drinking. Ordinary functions of the liver are altered such as blood clotting, production of antibodies, and prep and production of our essential hormones.
Regular artificial stimulation diminishes our natural perception of pleasure.
This is the Science.
Would you agree or disagree that the above harmful effects of alcohol greatly outweigh society's perceived advantages? I know, Its is a lot to take in and contemplate. I felt the same way. If these black and white truths are real, then I had been damaging my body and brain much more than I realized. These truths inform my choice to not drink alcohol and they also inform what and how I teach my wellness clients and students. More importantly, from a yogic perspective, these truths are a solid barrier to Ahimsa. Alcohol is injurious to our people. Talking about the negative effects of alcohol is not an addiction conversation, it is a wellness conversation for NOW, not later.
Why "Just One" is a myth
Light social drinking is becoming a health myth. It is commonly argued that it's only alcohol abuse that is harmful. That moderation somehow makes real sense. That "normal" drinking is OK. Many sincere people are ensnared with this seemingly reasonable rationale. But you just read the science yourself. No level of consumption can be regarded as completely harmless let alone necessary. Small doses of alcohol can be worse than large ones. Poor and inhibited motor skills are often more dangerous than zero motor skills. A moderate drinker believes their perception sharpened and reaction time intact- even feeling self-confident. It is an illusion that is often the difference between joy and regret and life and death. This is a fact.
The CSPI Center for Science in the Public Interest compiled a list of well over a hundred additives permissible in various alcoholic beverages, not required to be declared on labels. Enzymes that convert starch into sugar, chill proofing, foam stabilizing, anti-gushing, anti-microbial preservatives, artificial colors, and of course natural and artificial flavors. This is a fact.
Is your true purpose for supporting people with Yoga to be well and healthy? It is for me and Ahimsa is the most encompassing and magnifies all the other Yamas and Niyamas. Yoga teachers encourage and teach the gifts in living fully. Life is not intended to be numbed or repressed. Being comfortable in our skin, is not always easy but living with and feeling the discomfort is what grows us. We teach this. Yoga has so many powerful self-regulation tools- alcohol is not one of them. This is a fact.
Lastly, I think that SAVASANA is sacred. A space and time that has lasting, profound, and life-changing effects on any person. A post-yoga cocktail immediately sends the body into full-on alert, pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the body which can possibly negate the residual positive effects of one's practice. (I go into more of the science around this in my webinar)
I know this is a lot to take in and consider, especially if you like your wine, beer, and cocktail. I get it. I am not suggesting that everyone should not drink. I just hope that by understanding the facts, you might rethink your positive benefits thoughts about alcohol and how it's integrated into your non-harming yogic lifestyle or yoga offerings.
If you are interested in hearing more about this. I offer a 45-minute science-based webinar, discussion, and Q & A a few times a year. The next one is October 25th, 2023 at 12 pm EST. It's free with a replay link available.
In peace, light, and love- Pamela