Forget the hooch! Bring on Kombooch!

By Anne Marie

Here we are again, tis the season for merrymaking and fond festive gatherings with friends and loved ones.  Of course, this season of togetherness brings back the long held traditions of hot toddies, casual daytime tipples and full-fledged boozing!

Since we know that you’ve been a good boy or girl this year, by keeping up your regular hot yoga practice, or have just begun to make hot yoga part of your winning life strategy for happiness, we know that this time of year is crucial for feeling your best emotionally, keeping your physical health, and maintaining your personal power around the influence of your own cheeky self and the pushy joviality of others.

Christmas gatherings are especially renown for putting the body through a rigorous test of endurance.  Whether you partake in some of the cultural artery cloggers (pigs in a blanket) or maintain a semblance of grace with filling nut loaves and Yorkshire puds a plenty, there is one major culprit at the table that begs for a bit more consideration: alcohol.  This little bugger in a bottle is the bane for many, as it bears the comforts of years past, yet, makes us feel like we’ve taken a decade long hit back to our unwanted past – every year.

For some, being around alcohol is not an issue.  Some are able to maintain casual composure, drink moderately and not feel too poorly from a small amount of social drink.  Others may be easily holding their ground among peers with overindulgence on rich foods and heavy drinking, very likely becoming the sufferers of well earned hangovers (congrats) or gathering a steady stream of New Year’s depression, (ever heard of ‘post booze blues’?)

A third category is for those somewhere in the middle, and this article will be of most benefit.  These individuals may wish to drastically reduce their alcohol intake, abstain for a certain period of time, and/or eventually stop drinking altogether.  If one of these sounds like you, have no fear.  There are plenty of us in town and our community at HYS is committed to helping you know that you are totally supported for making that choice.  And, you’re still cool.

I had, at one point in my life, been able to knock back copious amounts of heavy alcohols: red wine, dark ales, spirits and energy drinks, and combine them with super heavy foods.  Suffice it to say, these habits do not pair well with an energizing and progressing yoga practice (especially Hot Yoga).  You may have noticed that when you began your hot yoga ‘career’, this will have instantly had an impact on your tolerance.  Good thing!  Everyone loves a cheap date, and falling all over yourself is never sexy.  Really.

Back to reality though.  This time of year is very important, yet challenging to get through for those who are actively trying to reduce or negate their intake of alcohol.  For a period of about 2-3 years, gatherings with booze were uncomfortable and stressful for me.  This is a fraction of what it looked like:

I wanted to drink, but I didn’t want to depend on it to enjoy myself.  I wanted to trust and be content in my natural state, like a yoga teacher. 

I didn’t want to drink, but was sick of people hassling me, asking me why “I don’t drink,” “Why I thought I was better than everyone else,” and “What’s wrong with drinking a beer?” Really, I was trying to figure those out for myself.

I wanted to drink, but really wanted to change completely and never drink again because I was addicted to it.  I didn’t want to identify with ‘being a drinker’ anymore.

I didn’t want to drink, yet people would pour me/buy me drinks even if I said no, and my will power was just too weak…

To tell you the truth, a number of things happen in these situations, but the key points are:

1. If you choose to not drink for an evening, a period of time, or to stop drinking altogether - everyone you know will likely give you shit for it.  So don’t worry about them, and press on.  Find a reason and stick with it. 

2.  It’s hard enough for you to not drink.  Tell your friends that it’s not about them, it’s about you and your choice, so a little support would be greatly appreciated.

3.  It’s hard not to judge others when sober - it is best to surround yourself with people who are not pissed in order to stay at ease and enjoy yourself.  If it gets later in the evening, no one will be bothered if you leave early, or retire for the night to go for a walk, practice yoga, read or meditate before bed.

Over time, I would feel great before a party, enjoying myself, feeling well connected so had a few sips, only to berate myself for messing up my pure joy.  Knowing that I had tampered with the power of yoga somehow diminished the effects that booze would give.  With time and efforts, the benefits of yoga outweighed the buzz of booze.  Fast forward to now, if I have alcohol, the effects it has are immediate (literally one sip/ half glass) and I have to stop there to prevent feeling a headache or falling asleep!  For me, I am super happy to be in this place.  There are no strings of judgment towards myself, others, or to alcohol as a substance.  Like any other addiction, I am aware of how I worked hard to ‘get into it’ and how I had to work hard to ‘get out of its grip’.

Without further ramblings, here are my favorite booze substitutes that you must have for the holidays.   Whether you just want to maintain a very moderate pace, or if you’re not keen on the green bottles to begin with.  These are fab!  Cheers!

Natureo – De alcoholised Wine (red/white) – this is a newfound gem.  While I was not sure if this would be similar to the sweet juice type grog we’re expected to get down around this time, this was a pleasant surprise.  A mature and full-bodied Syrah grape ‘juice’ that has been through the whole wine process, it has all the show of a great bottle and rich appearance in a wine glass.  If you were trying to be sneaky, this would definitely pass for a ‘proper’ glass.  Worth the £7.50, and cool for casual sipping without a sugary buzz.  Found it at the Dram Shop.

Kombucha – For me, home brewing kombucha (fermented black/green tea) the past 5 years is what gave me a huge boost in kicking beer/champagne urges.  All the fizz you need to fit in.  Kombucha has wonderful health benefits including probiotics, and acids that replicate those that keep the body healthy and detoxified.  You can brew your own, or buy some from Beanies.  Black teas are better for a beery flavor, green teas can be elegant and light.  Watch out, once bottled they can explode with fizz!  Come see me if you need a free starter, and check online at to get your kit.  Forget the hooch, Bring on the ‘Booch! 

Rochester Ginger - this stuff is great.  Bring this to any gathering and everyone will take a shot.  It’s just that, a great hot hit to the throat of ginger - just like a Whisky!  This is lovely to sip on after dinner by the fire.  It feels great on a cold congested throat too.  Get it at Holland and Barrett for £4.99.  So Dickensian.

The Borowski Blend – I don’t know if anyone else has had this as a family drink, but we used to get this mixer as kids at my great-grandmothers house in Little Neck.  I love it, and it’s super easy: 

¼ glass Orange Juice

¼ glass Cranberry juice

½ glass Seltzer (fizzy) water. 

Bam, a tall bevvie!

If you still need some ideas of what to drink, there are choices abound.  Holland and Barrett have all kinds of juices and health drinks like Rabenhorst.  You can always have fresh fruit/juice with fizzy water.  If you’re particularly crafty and want to go wild, you can recreate some of the shots we had at our Member’s Appreciation party earlier this year with fresh ginger, lime and turmeric juice shots (with a grind of black pepper on top).  Either way, enjoy yourself this season, drink what you want to drink, feel elated by love and festive cheer and keep that high into the New Year.  You got this!

Let me know how you get on, and tell us your own experiences about going booze free.  Happy Holidays!


Big Love,
Anne Marie