Coffee may not help with … what word am I looking for? Creativity

The aim here is to demonstrate how reliable all our pro-coffee posts have been in the past.

Because this time we’re pointing you toward some negatives about coffee/caffeine. See, we’re trustworthy!

The New Yorker has a story online on how caffeine might not be the power boost to creativity that it often gets portrayed as — via someone like Balzac, who gutted down the rumored equivalent of 50 cups of coffee per day.

Here’s the crux of the issue:

The more their mind wandered when they stepped away, the better they fared at being creative. In fact, the benefit was not seen at all when the subjects engaged in an unrelated but demanding task.

In other words, a break in intense concentration may increase unconscious associative processing. That, in turn, allows us to perceive connections that we would otherwise miss. Letting our minds wander may also increase communication between the brain’s default mode network—the parts of our brain that are more active when we’re at rest—and its executive areas, which are used in so-called higher reasoning and decision-making functions. These two regions become activated right before we solve problems of insight. Caffeine prevents our focus from becoming too diffuse; it instead hones our attention in a hyper-vigilant fashion.

And then there’s this: “Caffeine also inhibits another mental process that’s necessary for creative thinking: sleep.”

All is not lost, though. The piece — perhaps driven by the writer’s own desire to redeem the humble cup of joe — gets to a best-case scenario: You drink coffee while researching or investigating ideas and information, and then you get into a more mind-wandering state when it comes time to be creative.

Of course, this may be moot given Ashtanga’s set sequence. For it, you really don’t need much creativity. (And don’t go making up your own sequences too soon.)

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “Coffee may not help with … what word am I looking for? Creativity”

  1. I love my 2-3 cups in the morning, after my practice & meditation. Lately, I’ve been wondering about the negative effects on the kidneys, liver, pancreas, & adrenals. Not too mention increased heart rate, perspiration, & occasional headache. I think it’s time to switch back to herbal tea & give the system a break. Namaste’

  2. Hi Steve,
    I am very sensitive to caffeine and I simple can’t drink coffee because I suffer with mood swings when i drink it . I do not know how people can defend the use of coffee for the practice of ashtanga yoga. After all caffeine is a drug.
    Nuno from Portugal

    1. Hi Nuno.

      As we always try to make clear, our coffee posts are done with ample senses of humor. We understand that Guruji’s pronouncement has multiple levels of meaning. But it is one that gives us a little room to cover coffee, almost entirely for fun.

      We know it isn’t for everyone. But we allow ourselves a vice or two.


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