How to Quit Caffeine and Still Bring Energy to Your Day
Little-known yogic philosophy and techniques that can help you quit
“For I have known them all already, known them all — Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” ― T.S. Eliot
If you saw me drinking my coffee every morning at 5:30 am, you’d think I’m a connoisseur. Without a doubt, those few minutes in the morning with my cup of coffee are (or should I say were) the most peaceful moments of my life.
I’d take in the aroma, light a wax candle, and sit in the darkness, slowly sipping the nectar I’d prepared with exactly one tablespoon of coffee powder and half a glass of water.
As the vapors from the cup entered my nostrils, it felt as if I’d come back to life. The first sip gave me chills down the spine.
A day without coffee was like….well, I don’t know! I’ve never had any.
About 6 years ago, I picked up the habit of drinking coffee every day from my father. He used to travel to hundreds of places and would order an Americano everywhere he went.
For some reason, I thought it was super cool. Coffee was almost a status symbol for me. In India, tea is the staple drink. The second place goes to coffee with milk. And since black coffee doesn’t exist on the list, it made me feel like a part of an elitist cult.
Over the years, this infatuation turned into an obsession — to the point of having 4 cups of coffee every day along with 1–2 cups of tea.
I never realized the damage I was doing to myself. I’d brag about how I drank coffee at 10 in the night and 5 in the morning. What a fool I was, bragging about my own demise!
Since then, I was, fortunately, able to reduce my intake to 1–2 cups a day. This was going great. I was still a coffee lover, but I didn’t obsess over it. But recently, for all the love I had for coffee, I gave it all up.
That’s right. No coffee. Completely cold turkey.
Caffeine Does More Than Just Keep You Awake
Most people *need *a morning cup of coffee or perhaps a cup in the afternoon to keep them going.
Caffeine is so widely available that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says about 80 percent of U.S. adults take some form of caffeine every day.
But what does caffeine exactly do? According to [Healthline](https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body#Central-nervous-system), caffeine, more than anything is a nervous system stimulant.
When it reaches your brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. You’ll feel more awake and less tired, so it’s a common ingredient in medications to treat or manage drowsiness, headaches, and migraines.
As you consume caffeine regularly, you develop a tolerance to it. This is why it’s difficult to convince people to quit coffee — they think that they need a certain number of cups and without that, they won’t be able to function.
Even when people try to quit, they start seeing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, drowsiness, and so on.
A Yogic Way of Life
“Yoga is not just repetition of few postures — it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.”― Amit Ray
Being a yogi doesn’t mean doing yoga every morning at 8 am in your fancy gym and tight pants.
It’s a way of life. And an important part of the yogic life is the food that we take.
To aid our spiritual and yogic practices, food matters more than you think.
“Purity of food brings in purity of mind. That power which connects the body and the mind is present in the food that we take.”— Swami Sivananda
The effect of the kind of food you take directly impacts brain-cells, emotions, and passions.
Just as a marathon runner, boxer, and basketball player need different diets to progress in their field, a yogi needs a different diet to fulfill the higher goal in life — union with God.
But like any other dietary system, yogic philosophy doesn’t lay emphasis on calories, macronutrients, and so on. It pays attention to the type of food and its qualities.
Yogis who live for more than a hundred years in the mountains, eat much less than us but still enjoy supreme health. There’s indeed a secret here for anyone who’s willing to grasp it.
As I started paying more attention to my diet, and how it relates to my meditations, I quickly realized the foods that I should avoid.
Applying common sense to figure food choices in a yogic diet is simple. Avoid what excites the nervous system and eat what makes you calm.
For example, meat excites the nervous system since it brings the vibrations of fear and greed (from the animals that were killed to serve it), inside your body. This interferes with your energy. So, avoid meat.
You can then see why I made the decision to avoid coffee too.
Every morning when I had a cup of coffee and sat down to meditate, I felt a great deal of energy at first. But I wasn’t able to focus for a long time. My mind always wandered from one thought to another. I thought it’s just my inability to focus that’s causing this.
But the problem didn’t end there. Almost 3 hours after I had my cup of coffee, I had to endure a strong caffeine crash. Out of nowhere, I’d get tired at 9 am and felt the urge to go back to sleep. Even then, I couldn’t sleep properly.
So you see, I was caught in a precarious situation not knowing that my dear cup of coffee is causing all this.
One day, I heard from one of my teachers that tea/coffee makes people jittery and restless before their meditation. Immediately, I knew that this is a problem for me.
Yet, I wasn’t ready to yet leave coffee. I had my apprehensions. After all, over the years, I’d reduced my coffee intake significantly. To give it up would be too much, I thought.
Nevertheless, the next morning, with some willpower and with a desire to go deeper in my meditations, I skipped the cup of coffee.
I admit I didn’t have as much energy the first couple of days. But you know what? I also didn’t have the caffeine highs and lows. My energy levels were much more stable throughout the day.
On the third day, I started feeling great. Greater than when I did have my customary morning cup of joe.
Other Sources of Energy
Since I had successfully removed coffee from my diet, I needed other sources to get more energy throughout the day.
The strongest urge to consume caffeine comes when I’m tired. So I had to ensure that I don’t feel tired!
Here are some ways I did that:
You saw this coming. Didn’t you?
I hate to break it to you, but if you feel tired in the afternoon, desperately searching for a bed to sleep on, you probably didn’t get enough sleep last night.
So one of the first steps to ensure a steady flow of energy was to get as much sleep as my body needs.
I sleep at 9 pm and don’t use an alarm clock. I naturally get up around 5 am.
Since I don’t consume caffeine, there’s nothing that interferes with my sleep.
Apart from that, I follow the basics of sleep hygiene — avoid blue lights before bed, meditate for a few minutes, list down your tasks for the next day (so they don’t trouble your mind at night), and so on.
2. Energizing Exercises
“All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” ― Nikola Tesla
As soon as I get up, I do these energization exercises by Paramahansa Yogananda, a fully liberated yoga master. I’ve talked about this before on many occasions.
These are a set of 39 exercises that take 7–15 minutes to complete (depending on your speed and number of rounds).
Humans live on prana (energy) or as the Chinese call it, *chi. *We don’t directly live on food and water. Yogananda designed these exercises to recharge the body at will with energy.
I do 2–3 rounds every single day and it’s the best pick-me-up I’ve found. It’s also great on days when you’re fasting.
Try it and see for yourself.
3. Tensing and Relaxing Body Parts
If you’re feeling tired, tense and relax all different body parts individually.
Feet, calves, thighs, buttocks, lower arms, upper arms, stomach, chest, lower back, middle back, upper back, shoulders, and neck.
By doing this you concentrate on each muscle. And energy follows concentration. The more you concentrate on one body part, the more energy flows towards it.
4. Proper Breathing
“Poor breathing is to low energy as bad air filter is to low car performance.”― Sukhraj S. Dhillon
The way you breathe may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired.
Proper deep breathing helps balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood. It’s vital for high energy levels and mental alertness. Since oxygen is the breath of life, it’s rocket fuel for the body and mind.
Shallow breathing leads to an imbalance in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
To solve this, you can try to do simple exercises like box breathing or the Wim Hof method.
Along with this, make sure throughout the day that you’re breathing with your belly and take deep breaths whenever possible.
Slowly, but surely, you will train yourself to breathe the right way and enjoy the energizing benefits it gives.
Coffee is nice. I still like it. But when I weigh the effect it has on my body, it isn’t worth it.
I’ve quit it for now. If I do pick it up again, it’ll be in a controlled manner that doesn’t affect my meditations and spiritual practices.
If you too have always wanted to quit caffeine, realize that it adversely affects your awareness and mindfulness by stimulating your nervous system.
And if you think you’ll not be as energetic without it, think again! With the few steps above, you’ll be well on your way to living life with a much more stable and reliable energy source.
Life is already difficult. Don’t make it more so by adding caffeine-induced highs and lows!
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