Guruji is supposed to have said these famous words, and recently I have noticed that when I practice early in the morning without coffee, my practice is terrible – I feel heavy, lethargic and lifeless, and I can barely get through the standing poses. If I have a coffee first, I feel much lighter, energised and able to get through to navasana, even right through the primary series if time allows.
In Ayurveda, coffee is said to be rajasic – producing activity. However, it is not that we should avoid rajasic foods altogether, rather have a balance between rajasic and sattvic foods (sattvic producing understanding), & avoiding tamasic foods (meat, etc, which produce inertia and ignorance). So by implication, a little coffee before practice should be ok.
Sharath actually likened the practice to drinking a cup of coffee. He said that he looks forward to that first cup of coffee in the morning and makes a conscious effort to relish and enjoy it. The practice, he said, should be just like that too. You shouldn’t just do the practice just to do it and get it done, you should enjoy your practice every day. My takeaway from this speaks deeply to the mind training of the Ashtanga Yoga method. You can go through the motions of the practice just like you can chug a cup of coffee in the morning because it’s part of your routine. Or you can consciously choose to savor each sip of your life. You can choose to train your mind to enjoy every moment of your practice just as you can choose to focus on the positive elements of every life experience.