Coffee for thought

Day 17. Last night, a few of my friends and I played a rousing game of Monopoly (yes, I understand the irony in this never-used-statement) which ended on a draw with me and my friend, Jess, owning all the properties–hotels on each lot; four+ hours of Monopoly is more than enough. “Hey, it’s not every day I get to feel rich and in power,” I told my pouting friend who had to mortgage all of her property to pay my $750 rent.

As I write this, my belly is swollen with last night’ pizza, the copious glasses of [yellow tail] Shiraz I consumed, this morning’s comforting egg, ham and cheese butty (my cousin sent me two, buttery–albeit slightly stale–loafs of Tiger bread from England) and my second cup of Wawa coffee. (Am I really turning into a fat-bellied mogul, gloating from atop my orange stacks of five-hundreds?)

Sometimes, when I have (and love) my morning cup(s) of coffee, I feel like a fraudulent yogi. I’ve heard so many of them say to nix the coffee and instead go for the yoga, but I like the bitter taste of a dark roast splashed with some light cream. Plus, I’m stubborn-ish…and the caffeine does nothing for me. Still, I can’t help but feel guilty.

“Coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones,” says Mark Hyman, M.D. “The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.”

Increases stress? Inflames? Dehydrates, to boot!These are things I’m trying to avoid. Sure, there are times when I do go on hiatus from the “java jive,” but, I always go back. (Now, with this said, recently I’ve limited myself to two cups a day. Sometimes I’d have four in a day!*)

Since I’ve been immersed in yoga, my energy levels are actually higher than usual, it seems. All those downward dogs are paying off! It’s amazing how different our bodies are from each other.

Me on the Appalachain Trail, 2012 / Photo by S. Farren

I resent being called a “hippie.” Yes, I have long hair. Yes, I try to recycle. Yes, I’ve been to Firefly Music Festival; prefer the outdoors and saying “man” as a proper form to address a person. Yes, I drink more herbal tea than coffee. Yes, on paper, I could be called a hippie, but to me, the term is more of a lifestyle rather than an adjective.  But when it comes to yoga, I want to so fully commit to the lifestyle that when it comes to the “shoulds,” like, for example, I should stop drinking coffee, I begin to doubt myself.

Could I ditch the coffee? Sure. Will I? No. I can’t even muster a lie and say, “I’ll try.” I won’t. Not yet. (Baby steps.)

“Thankfully, the news about coffee isn’t all bad,” says Marine Chetner. “Studies have shown that sipping on java has positive side effects. Some of which include a lower risk of the following: stroke, depression, heart failure, heart disease, cancer (e.g. of the skin), dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease; as well as a decrease in the development of Type 2 diabetes.”

I’ll heed Erin Motz’s advice on what it is to be a “bad yogi:”

“Bad Yogis are real people, not impossibly fit, flexible, and flashy representations of yogi stereotypes.”

Finally, it seems, there is a yoga lifestyle for those who like the things that they like.

Along with my practice, I’ve been dabbling in Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching–reading it and reflecting as opposed to studying the text (that’s for a rainy day, amiright?). As it happens, I picked up my Stephen Mitchell-translated copy today, opened to the bookmarked page, and found this (Verse 44):

Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Wealth or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?
If you look to others for fulfilment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on accumulating wealth,
you will never truly be happy.
What you gain is more trouble
than what you lose.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
If you know when to stop
and realise there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

I’ve not been one to really follow the crowd or worry what others think, but when it comes to my writing and yoga practices, I tend to retreat into myself because, let’s face it, we never think we’re as good as we are.

So, dammit, despite what those other yogis say, I’ll continue to drink the juice that is coffee. Being happy is the key to happiness, no? (Or maybe I’m not entirely immune to caffeine and it’s the coffee-induced endorphins talking.)


*I assure you this is not an addiction. There are some days when I have none. But now I’m just trying to justify my actions.


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