Some new friends and I celebrated a birthday this past weekend in Lexington, with easy access to bourbon country. The company and the lack of concrete schedule was the primary highlight; however, I can’t resist sharing a bit about the distillary tours.
I know, I know. What in the world would a simple yoga instructor have to say about bourbon? (Or, what does bourbon have to say about my Downward Dog pose?) Ah, my friends: this is why you love me or leave me. Herego!
In once sense, if you’ve been on a distillery tour, you’ve been on them all. We learn about the mash bill with over 51% corn, that’s been around since the company started – just after the prohibition, of course (unless you’re Buffalo Trace). You see the barrels with the level 3 char. The rick houses, the handwritten labels, and you learn to sniff the bourbon with your mouth open.
Bourbon is aged (minimum of 3 years, of course) in charred oak barrels because it flavors and colors the clear liquid that goes into the barrel. Here’s where I go Yoga Nerd on it all: it’s the process of expansion and contraction that allows the alcohol to become a part of the barrel, and then it returns. Changed.
Bourbon takes its flavor from its container, it’s home.
And it does it through changing temperature, humidity, and wind conditions. In essence, through all these uncontrollable variables of living on earth.
The practice of yoga is about bringing connection – often we reference body, mind, spirit, soul, breath as these parts and pieces that can feel like they’re operating in isolation. But it’s not like a lego kit, where you stack a red brick with a yellow brick and a white brick and then, presto, you’ve built a wall.
We’re much more like an aging bourbon. Our properties are being absorbed and distributed based upon their interactions with one another and the environment in which we live. Much like bourbon, we take on the flavor of our surroundings as we navigate living in a world filled with change.
The way we think impacts our mental and physical health. And when we’re hurt, our emotions shift. When our spirit is inspired and revived, our energy lifts and we find new capacity for moving, eating well, and partaking in spiritual practices.
If you’re going to take on the flavor of your surroundings, let’s be intentional about it.
- Choose friends who show you your best self.
- Allow your living and working space with beauty
- Eat foods with properties you want to become (so, maybe not as fake or cheap)
- Fill your mouth with words that take you in the direction you want to go: gracious, thankful, hopeful, joyous
- Let your mind rest on ideas that are expansive and inclusive, rather than small and divisive
- Listen, read and watch that which inspires awe, laughter, and intrigue