Coffee Makes You Stiff – #2 of 7
When I was 19, I worked at Starbucks on Park Row in downtown Manhattan.
At first, I was really into the Carmel Macchiato, but after two months, I couldn’t drink the sweet stuff anymore. Made me sick.
Most of my colleagues drank Americanos (espresso and hot water), but after a couple weeks on those, I decided to skip the water and drink 8 oz. glasses of straight espresso instead – three times per day!
My bean of choice was from Sumatra; full bodied, thick as mud, and not too bitter. Moderation has never been my forte, but as you can image, working with coffee and drinking that much was beyond extreme.
I was a coffee boy for nearly a year and half, the entire time ruthlessly addicted to caffeine, and here’s what happened:
- I gained 15 lbs.
- My skin went translucent
- My stools looked like petrified wood
- I couldn’t seem to sleep OR stay awake
- My love life was crap (read between the lines)
- Every joint in my body ached
What I’m trying to tell you is, I know coffee. I know why you love it, the ritual, the smell, the flavor. It’s wonderful, but sadly, if you’re serious about improving your flexibility, you need to give it up (or at least cut way back).
Coffee is kryptonite to flexibility, here’s why…
If you analyze the mobility of any part of your body, say your hamstrings or your hips, you need to consider two primary factors. First, there’s the length and elasticity of your soft tissues. Next, you have to take a look at your nervous system response and training.
It’s those two factors that matter…
In some postures, such as the side splits, your nervous system dominates; while in other poses, like a forward fold, it’s mostly your soft tissues that are calling the shots.
But in each and every pose, your nervous system has keystone importance, and coffee undoes and even blocks your nervous system gains so you’re essentially swimming upstream when you practice.
Coffee hurts rather than helps…
As a stimulant, any neurologist will tell you caffeine keeps your brain stuck in its most active “beta” state. For deep stretching, you need to move from beta to alpha, and this is hard (if not impossible) when you’re hopped up on beans.
To make matters worse, coffee dehydrates your tissues, and it turns on your stretch reflex making it more difficult to go deep in poses.
To coffee loving yoga students, this is bad news, I know; and I’d encourage you to put it to the test so you can feel the difference yourself. Commit to 10 days bean-free and completely give up coffee and all caffeine products. Make sure to do your 15 minutes of supplemental Gravity Pose stretches daily, stay hydrated, and see how you feel.
I dare you.
If you’re weaning off coffee for the first time, the initial 24-hour withdrawal will usually include headaches, constipation, and irritability. To make the transition easier, you might switch to black tea for a few days, then green tea, then non-caffeinated herbal infusions.
If you have access to fresh green juice, that will help you stay regular (it’s an issue when you quit), and you might even consider some nutritional supplementation.
For recent coffee quitters, vegetarians, and anyone with a high stress lifestyle, Liquid Energy-B is a really great supplement I manufacture using Vitamin B12 in its purest form, methylcobalamin. It’s water-soluble and safe, it tastes amazing, and most people experience a lift in mood and energy particularly when they are deficient. To see if it might be helpful for you, you can learn more here:
Liquid Energy-B | for Vegetarians & Those with High-Stress Lives
So the takeaway from today’s lesson? Less coffee, more bendy… give it a try!