Less a New Year’s Resolution than an experiment in habit formation, Dry January seems to really be taking off this year. The basic idea is that after the excesses of the holiday season, some people take a month to set aside of the prime drivers of gustatory and sensual excess: alcohol. In the coverage I’ve recently heard, the reporters seem genuinely shocked that just 31 days of being off the sauce can have perceptible benefits.
The physical benefits are documentable and clear: clearer head, less bloating, better insulin sensitivity, to name a few. And any yogi can appreciate the elegance of such an experiment: do you remember back to when the only thing you changed was adding in one yoga class a week? Sure, other changes ensued. But there at the beginning, that one yoga practice seemed to change the whole next day, then the next three, and finally the week to come. And maybe you doubled up then. One experiment can change your world when the time is right.
If you decide to give dry January a try - face it, there’s not a lot of reason to imbibe in January and with the hours of daylight not yet noticeably longer tons of reasons not to take depressants, of which alcohol is one - your yoga practice is the perfect compliment. One of the common revelations is that drinking was helping to cope with boredom. Your Yin and Restorative yoga practices are the perfect substitute on a dark winter evening for that glass of wine or vodka soda. In addition, twists will massage your digestive organs and support the biochemical changes they’re undergoing as the effects of detoxifying alcohol from your system become more distant - it really does take an inordinate amount of your body’s resources to clear alcohol. In fact one serving of alcohol can have lingering metabolic effects for three days.
Your mindful, breath inspired yoga practice gives you the perfect tools to take such an experiment one moment at a time, observing the effects without judgement or anticipation. And when and if you do have that next glass of Pinot Noir, you have the mindfulness and presence to observe that in the same way. So pour a glass of clean, clear water and roll out your yoga mat if you’re savoring a Dry January.