You might notice that the practice of yoga and the ritual of drinking tea seem to be crossing paths a lot lately. It’s a natural marriage, one that has evolved over the thousands of years that both have been around.
I’m intrigued by the connection between tea and yoga. Both are mystical and medicinal. Both are special practices that take the yogi/tea drinker away from the daily grind for a soothing break. Consider all the yoga studios that serve tea to help transition from yoga-land back into the cold, hard world off the mat. Lululemon made a “tea lounge” pant. I have them.
Where Tea and Yoga Meet
The ancient roots of tea ceremonies all over the world lie in ritual. On visits to Japan and Morocco, I was fascinated by the intricacies and history of their tea ceremonies. My daughter even learned to pour mint tea from up high to properly aerate it (plus it looks cool) as they do in Morocco. The many practices of yoga—asana, pranayama, chanting—are also rituals with ancient roots. We are drawn to the comfort of our modern rituals: Of laying out our yoga mat, lighting a candle, wearing our favorite yoga pants. Of carefully and thoughtfully preparing a cup of tea. Our rituals of yoga and tea shouldn’t be rush jobs, because they slow us down in a good way. In a way we deeply crave, that returns to ancient roots.
There is tons of information on the health benefits of tea. Knowledge of this dates back to the beginning of tea; we have simply updated it to accommodate modern medicine. In a nutshell, studies conducted around the world have shown that tea drinking might protect against such serious diseases as strokes, cancer, and heart disease, as well as boost memory, immunity, stress relief, skin health, and weight loss (Source). A Japanese monk wrote in 1211: Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health… Tea is the elixir that creates the mountain-dwelling immortal. Sign me up for that! Both tea and yoga offer a variety of healthy choices, with a myriad of health benefits. There are probably as many rich, delicious tea options as there are yoga poses.
Then there is the connection between people. I’ve always felt that the word connection is infused with power — it sounds straightforward vs. esoteric, even slightly mathematical. I keep coming back to it again and again. If I had to use one word to describe the source of my own inspiration, it would be connection. Tea ceremonies have connected people for millennia. So has the practice of yoga. It seems fairly obvious that yoga + tea = connection. On the yoga retreats I lead, tea has become a retreat ritual; I watch people sipping it before yoga, after yoga, in between yoga. It connects the yoga. It connects the people sipping it.
How to Combine Tea + Yoga for Maximum Benefits
So now that we know where tea and yoga meet, it’s time to make it work for your practice.
Yoga: You practice vigorous Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Power Yoga and want something to help you focus, build heat, or energize you before class? Try: Black Teas, Chai Pu-erh Tea Yerba Mate Oolong Tea Gunpowder Green Tea Ginseng, Mint chai
Yoga: You love hot yoga, but you’d like something cooling and hydrating for after class. Try: Sencha or Jasmine Green Tea Rooibos Chamomile, Mint Hibiscus, Rose Ginger, Licorice
Yoga: You practice restorative or gentle yoga and you need want to feel calmer, less stressed, and more relaxed before or after class? Try: Roasted Green Teas Chamomile, Lavender Eucalyptus, Licorice Vervain, Sleepy Teas.
Yoga: You prefer a meditative practice, and you want to cultivate calm, improve focus, and prepare for stillness before or after a meditation practice. Try: Dragonwell Green Tea Sencha, Gyokuro Green Tea White Teas Lemon Balm, Lemon Myrtle Rose, Lavender
Top photo by Rumpleteaser, used with Creative Commons license
Second photo by Larry Stanley Photography, submitted by Margaret Burns Vap.
Margaret Burns Vap is a former city-girl fashionista transformed by yoga and motherhood into an outdoorsy Montana cowgirl who still loves a latte. She is the founder of Big Sky Yoga Retreats and Cowgirl Yoga; she leads retreats for women under the Big Sky that include yoga and horses, yoga and hiking, and yoga and Yellowstone. She also founded a program called Cowgirls vs. Cancer, that provides scholarships to breast cancer survivors each year; these cancer kickin’ cowgirls attend a Cowgirl Yoga retreat for healing with horses and yoga.
Want to steep your yoga with some high quality tea? Shop The Tea Spot and use promo code BIGSKYYOGA at checkout to get 20% off your order. Namaste.