While many can attest to yoga’s
attenuating impact on hangovers, a Bushwick,
NY venue has stepped it up several notches. Doubling as a bar by night and
yoga studio by day, Cobra Club offers 1pm weekend “Hangover Yoga” to help patrons offset the effects of excess debauchery
the night before, throwing in a bloody mary or mimosa (after class, natch) to
sweeten the deal.
Taking a leaf from Tara Stiles, yoga at
cobra “is not meant as a means to an end but as a moment to enjoy,” forgoing
chanting while keeping poses simple and close to the floor. An all-American bar
menu is replete with comfort food: hot dogs, soft pretzels with Cheez Whiz, and
vegetarian Frito pie.
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Bar co-owner Nikki Koch said she was inspired to open after
observing that following class, “I feel like the best version of myself, and
that means I want to be social. [Friends] and I always go out together after
class and drink wine … I challenge anything on the prescription market to
compete with its stress deleting, muscle unspooling power.”
Unsurprisingly perhaps, news of Cobra’s offerings has
proven controversial. Yet the concept is arguably so yesterday; yoga’s modern
pairing with intoxicants ranges from wine
to the entheogen ayahuasca in the
Peruvian Amazon. Yoga
Sutra 4.1 proclaims, “psychic and spiritual powers may be inborn, or they
may be gained by the use of drugs, or by incantations, or by fervour (sic), or
by Meditation.” Historically, the coupling of yoga and intoxicants has
precedent in the left-handed Kaula
tantrikas, who employed sex, drugs, and ritual to attain immortality and
While their use of intoxicants in combination with yoga is
not necessarily to attain a higher state of consciousness as with Kaula Tantra,
Cobra’s owners believe that vice is part of a healthy life, theorizing
that self-criticism and guilt stemming from imperfect choices may have a worse
impact on well-being than indulgence. Some research supports this; the harder
we are on ourselves, the more it may lead to future over-indulgences. A self-compassionate
approach has much more robust associations with health and well-being.
There is a
fine line, however, between self-kindness and overt self-indulgence. While it’s nice to unwind with a few drinks,
habitual/excessive extremes may exert deleterious effects. True self-kindness
entails recognition of self-harmful behavior and a willingness to hold yourself
accountable. Is becoming a regular at the bar and its weekend “hangover yoga”
classes a good use of your precious life force?
For some, the addition of yoga may be a radical improvement
and perhaps even beneficial, as for Cobra owner Koch. Yet for others prone to
over-indulgence, bar yoga may sanction routine drinking. The two “higher” paths
of Tantra, Mishra and Samaya, abstained from intoxicants entirely, instead
focusing on the rich inner world as a source of truth.
What are your thoughts on the interface of intoxicants with
the path of yoga? Do you think all intoxicants are created equal?