Studies support Guruji’s claim: ‘No coffee, no prana’

“No coffee, no prana,” Guruji used to say.

Tim Miller tells great stories about being just wiped out after practicing in the early days in Mysore, lying down for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes in Savasana until Guruji’s wife, Amma, would stick her head into the room and quietly ask, “Tim? OK? Coffee, Tim?”

A cup of joe, via wikipedia

There might be something to it.

A trio of recent studies are suggesting that Guruji was right about coffee — or more specifically, the caffeine contained therein. It does help boost physical performance, up to and including ones governed by acute mental focus.  (I’m waiting anxiously for studies to prove that sugar makes you flexible.)

One study was done at the Coventry University in England. It had 13 “fit” young men repeat a wight-lifting sequence. Before one workout, they’d have a sugar-free energy drink with caffeine. Before another, the same drink sans caffeine. They performed more reps, reported less exhaustion and — this apparently catches researchers’ attention — said they were anxious to do it all again when they’d had caffeine.

Another, from the Journal of Applied Physiology, put subjects through a series of grueling physical tests meant to simulate a soccer or basketball game. Performance was 16% better if the person had had a caffeine pill 70 minutes beforehand. Build-up of potassium also was less, and researchers think that contributes to fatigue.

Finally, a third study — this one from the British Journal of Sports Medicine — suggests that caffeine has a positive effect on mood and motor coordination. Test subjects, soccer players this time, did better dribbling and heading soccer balls if they’d had caffeine.


But a few cautions. Researchers note they have zero idea what the optimal “dose” of caffeine is. (Can I suggest the more, the merrier?) And they aren’t sure how a steady stream of the stuff — i.e. swilling coffee or tea all day — affects performance.

That seems like small qualifications to me, though. Fire up the espresso machine!

For more, including links to the studies noted above, check out this link.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

12 thoughts on “Studies support Guruji’s claim: ‘No coffee, no prana’”

  1. I love coffee too, But too much plus exercise can lead to some pretty tapped adrenal glands. Ashtanga is pretty taxing all by itself, especially if you are doing a 6 day/wk practice, working a 9-5 job and have kids or any kind of social life. a little coffee does wonders but rest and sleep can do more. drink responsibly. 😉

    1. Thank you for saying it stresses out the adrenal glands. It also can increase blood pressure and heart rate. My students who drink coffee seem to sweat profusely almost immediately and tend to zoom through the practice without any reverence for it. I feel like it causes more mind chatter and less meditation. To each his own…

  2. Coffee might boost your physical performance, and I never found it impacting negatively on my asanas practice, but how about meditation? Well, but then – Sharath says doing the precise same asanas, fully concentrated, mentally present, six days a week just IS meditation. As always, it all depends 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s