Yoga and Beer?

Bendy Brewski Yoga yoga class
Photo Credit: Bendy Brewski Yoga

Like peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese and all those other matches made in heaven—beer and yoga have finally found one another.

OK, so not everyone is so convinced that getting your bandhas and a buzz on at the same time is necessarily a good idea. But it’s true that yoga classes at breweries—though not entirely new—seem to be growing in popularity this summer. And why not? It’s hot out. People like beer. People like yoga. Breweries are trendy, yoga is trendy, so on and so forth.

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Personally, I find it a little strange (I’d rather chug a kombucha after class than an IPA), but it’s not altogether surprising. Lately, it seems like everyone is questioning what yoga should or shouldn’t be, what constitutes a “real” yoga practice, et cetera. But if people can do yoga on horseback, yoga underwater and yoga while they get their toes painted—it was only a matter of time before beer-swilling yogis closed the distance between the mat and the taps. (The beer and socializing typically comes after the yoga, though one does wonder what the effect might be if the itinerary were reversed.) Most classes are on the shorter side (typically in the 45 minute range), are geared toward beginners, and are followed by beer tastings and socializing at the bar.

The majority of the classes have punny names like Bend and Brew in Asheville, NC, Bendy Brewski in Charleston, SC, BrewAsana in Boulder and Denver, CO and Hoppy Yoga in San Diego, CA. Cameron Gunter, founder of Traveling Yogini Tours in Asheville and organizer of Bend and Brew yoga classes, describes the classes as “very social and upbeat. We play great music. The poses are energizing [but] it’s not meditative. [The beers are still] brewing while we are bending.”

Supporters of the events say that the laid-back, social atmosphere encourages people to try yoga who might otherwise never step foot in a studio. “I like the idea of yoga and beer because it allows people who might not want to try yoga but love beer feel comfortable in a social setting [and] give it a try,” says Gunter. “It’s especially fun to see the guys [who] come with the girls and are only there for the tasters end up loving the yoga class.”

Those less thrilled about this ‘beerasana’ trend point to the aspects of the pairing you might expect—mostly that yoga in this alcohol-imbibing context cheapens and/or further commercializes the practice. Others say it pulls people further away from yoga philosophy, as well as the meditative qualities that Gunter admits are absent in the brewery setting. After all, happy hour isn’t exactly one of the eight limbs.

So what do you think? Are these classes an innovative way of getting yoga out of the studio and out to the masses? Are they warping tradition? And then of course, there’s the Big Question: Is this “real” yoga?

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