Reading an email from a fellow journalist friend running the Boston Wine School, informing about a Yoga and Wine Class he is organising with the local yoga legend Roni Brissette, and concurrently watching a TV programme by the iconic Indian yogi Swami Ramdev had me fantasize about the miracles he could perform for the wine industry by promoting the combo and also becoming the biggest winery owner in India in no time.
Roni Brissette is a Boston based Iyenger school certified Yoga teacher who would conduct the 1-hour yoga class followed by wine tasting with Jonathan Alsop and dinner on October 2 (the date merely coincides with the prohibitionist Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday anniversary). ‘Join yoga legend Roni Brissette as we bring these delicious yoga & wine ideas together,’ reads the invitation ‘for an evening of breathing, balance and concentration for $100’.
‘On the surface, yoga and wine may not seem to have much in common. One is an ancient practice that gradually trains your body and mind to be in a constant state of peace. The other is a fleeting remedy, which can raise your spirits and relieve your inhibitions. But take a closer look and you’ll discover that yoga and wine have far more in common than you might think. Yoga teaches you how to age gracefully just like a great bottle of wine ages gracefully,’ explains David Romanelli, an instructor in California who teaches yoga and wine workshops across the country.
Yogashri Swami Ramdev who was recently on the quasi political campaign in Rajasthan has announced his intention to cleanse the current political system in India from corruption by fielding his party candidates from all the Indian constituencies, is a TV yoga evangelist who has a following of millions and is fast approaching the net worth of a $1billion through his several trusts, though nothing is on his personal name.
He has been a propagator of Yoga for health on at least two TV channels now under the direct control of his Trusts and trustees and has a following of perhaps over 50 million Indians to whom he preaches his own style of yoga, supplemented by medicines made by an ayurvedic hospital owned by his Trust. He claims, not unjustly, that millions have benefitted from his yoga (I know, I have) and the expensive ayurvedic medicines.
The swami is anti-smoking, anti- alcohol and anti-Coca Cola and other fizzy drinks as also anti- west and anti-multinationals who he claims, are robbing the nation of millions of dollars. But imagine if he woke up one day and realised like many physicians in the West have, that wine is as curative as some of the ayurvedic medicines he recommends for heart and other problems and cleans the arteries as well. How many people could he wean away from cheap liquor and convert them into wine drinking? The possibilities are enormous.
The impact the ‘60 Minutes’ programme on ‘The French Paradox’ in 1990 and the Hollywood movie ‘Sideways’ in 2004 had on the wine drinkers in the US would surely pale in front of this TV magician of the yogic kind.
He needn’t tell non-drinkers to start drinking alcohol-there are millions of his followers who may not admit on television but are hooked to the daily intake of liquor ranging from country liquor to the ‘Labels’ of red, black, green, yellow and blue colour Johnnies. If the Vedic guru could believe and project that many of the Gods in Vedas drank wine as a part of food, he would exhort his fans and disciples to make the switch and follow the Yoga and Wine combo.
Of course, it might also destabilize the current pecking order in the wine industry. His Trusts would set up wineries like Patanjali Vineyards (based on his Ayurvedic Center of the same name), Swami Wines and Ramdev Estates that would become the leaders in no time with the massive following enjoyed by him. The additional benefits would be that because of his magnanimity he might donate a major chunk of the profits from the enterprise (it takes me back to my recent trip to Franconia in Germany where two foundations formed over 500 years ago started wineries to generate funds to help the destitute, poor and old-and even today are top quality wineries of Würzburg and helping the needy through the profits from the wineries) towards education, health and elimination of poverty which he was talking throughout the TV programme I watched.
In reality it would be practically impossible to convince him that wine is a mere food product and most of his followers might not easily accept the change of heart. The sentiment is shared by even the popular US website Holistic Online , which states, ''Yogis do not touch alcohol, since they consider it to lower the vibrations of their subtle (astral) body. This defeats the purpose of yoga, which is to increase the vibrational level so they can gradually unfold their Higher Self.''
Till the modern day Swami and Yogi changes his current tune, you might want to at least consider discontinuing drinking Coke and other fizzy drinks (which he says are best to clean toilets) and switch to wine instead-if you are not averse to alcohol and care about your health.
P.S. – Please drink in moderation even if you don’t drink wine but liquor: 2-3 glasses of wine a day preferably red with alcohol levels under 14%. Reduce quantity if the alcohol level is higher. One standard drink =125 mL with 12.5% alc by vol.