Updated: Sep 26, 2019
by Tara Marsh (@starrayoga)
In this age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. You don't have to sit down to be mindful. You don't need a quiet place on your own. You can bring mindfulness to anything you do - eating, speaking with friends, scratching an itch, walking. And, of course, drinking wine.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment with awareness and without attachment to it being one way or another. When we drink a glass of wine, we can quaff it in gulps while we watch our Netflix show. We can sip it elegantly at the bar while thinking about whether we actually are into the guy we're on a date with. We can wash down our pizza with a tasty chianti, eyeing that last piece on the table. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. I certainly do them all, anyway! In those moments the wine is not the main act, it is not the focus. But it can be. And, just like breath is a tool for focus in yoga, we can choose to pay attention to the wine we are sipping. We can pause for a moment and watch it pouring into the glass, noticing how it swirls. We can observe the color. We can inhale the aromas - not looking FOR anything, just noticing what is there. We can let it coat our mouths, noticing how we respond to it. Maybe a fuzzy feeling in the gums. Maybe a tightening in the jaw. Maybe a tickle in the nose (this always happens to me with my first sip of red). We can taste it. And we can notice how we feel after a few sips.
It would probably take a long time to drink a glass of wine if you did this with every sip, and you might become a slightly less entertaining dining companion. But doing it sometimes, perhaps with the first few sips, or whenever it crosses your mind - that can be a wonderful way to bring yourself to the present moment. Just as we often use breath in yoga practice to bring us back to the present, your awareness of your wine can bring your mind back to the moment you are in. Because awareness is basically the state of being conscious of something - directly knowing, sensing, feeling. Using ALL the senses!
Practicing yoga before drinking some wine can prime your mind to be in a heightened state of awareness and openness. The more we pay attention, the more we can expand the scope of what we're capable of noticing. With the first pass, maybe you mostly smell alcohol. Or grapes. Both accurate, no doubt! And then perhaps you notice something else. And then something else again, more subtle. If you want to give it a go and need some help getting started, try this helpful mnemonic that we use in the Vino Vinyasa yoga classes:
See the wine
Swirl the wine
Smell the wine
Sip the wine
Savor the wine
Remaining open to any experience that arises and allowing it to wash over you and then dissipate (yes, my word choice is intentional). Being mindful in this way can transform the nature of an experience. Even if it's a wine you don't happen to like! Maybe a chance to explore new tastes or have a different reaction to something you didn't think you liked, or a deeper appreciation for something you do like. If you see someone in a bar with a glass of wine in front of them and their eyes closed and the corners of their mouth turned up in a slight smile - maybe they are having a mindful moment with that glass of wine.
Visit Tara on Instagram at @starrayoga.