Liquid Health

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Inside the Golden Bridge Yoga studio in Los Angeles is a popular elixir bar. A barista from Dragon Herbs, the company that hosts the bar, prepares customized concoctions using herbal formulas with intriguing names such as Return to Youth and Tibetan Magic.

At the JivamukTea Café, inside Manhattan's Jivamukti Yoga Center, Tonic Herbs and Teas sponsors a monthly alcohol-free happy hour, where yogis sample tonic preparations while snacking on herb-infused hors d'oeuvres.

On tap at these trendy spots are tonic drinks (also called elixirs)—herbal preparations enjoyed in tea or cold—drink form that promise, among other things, to enhance memory, increase energy levels, and promote better health. They can be custom blended to help support specific short- or long-term goals. There are also classic tonic formulations that have been used for thousands of years.

Traditional Chinese medicine maintains that herbal tonics help strengthen life force, increase longevity, and, ultimately, promote radiant health. "Just as yoga is about more than a workout, tonic herbalism is about more than treating an ailment," says Dragon Herbs founder, Ron Teeguarden. "Both practices promote lifelong health by strengthening the ability of the body to produce energy, defend itself, cleanse itself, and restore and rejuvenate."

While most tonics are taken over time, drinking an herbal elixir after a vigorous vinyasa class can have its own benefit. "Sometimes you feel it right away," says Tonic Herbs and Teas co-founder Michael Farewell, a Jivamukti Yoga instructor. The tonic, he says, can help replenish energy and nutrients lost by the body during class.

However, he adds, for chronic tiredness a regular program of tonics might be in order. "You want something that would help your overall energy level. Tonics build up in your system. They're superfoods that are loaded with phytonutrients that help balance the systems and functions of the body to promote wellness," he says.