A trend I’ve noticed cropping up in breweries and brewpubs is combining yoga with beer. Yogis come to a brewery or brewpub to take a class with a local yoga instructor, then have a pint at the bar. Featuring an assortment of fun names, including “Bends and Brews” and “Detox and Retox,” the classes offer a unique way to enjoy craft beer.
I have actually been into yoga longer than beer. I started practicing when I was 18. While my regular practice is off-and-on, I always feel better when I take time to stretch, relax, and reflect. I’ve always wanted to attend a beer and yoga class, and finally did so this past month, at the newly-opened Sehkraft Brewing in Arlington.
Sehkraft Brewing hosts a Detox + Retox class on the first Monday of each month. I spoke with the class’ instructor, Erin Sonn, about the unlikely marriage of yoga and beer. Erin has practiced yoga for eight years, enjoyed craft beer for seventeen years, and married them both two years ago as a student. She started leading classes at breweries just this past January.
Erin sees beer as a means of “enticing” people to yoga. By attending the classes (which, depending on the brewery, usually include a pint of beer with the class’ fee), new practitioners can “be present on the mat, appreciate the benefit of the practice, and get into the practice through their love of beer.”
Yoga’s many benefits include a healthy feeling that comes from tight muscles being relaxed and the body “detoxing” through sweating and stretching it out. As such, one may wonder why “retoxing” with a beer afterward would lend itself to the practice. Erin sees the connection as a social benefit. She describes meeting afterward to share a beer and conversation as “taking yoga off the mat” and into a community space. It’s a community she describes as “kind and compassionate and grateful” — all qualities that make people feel good, even as they’re “retoxing” with a couple of beers.
I attended Erin’s class at Sehkraft on Monday, February 1st. The class was sold out, and there were an assortment of beer and yoga fans there, both men and women. The class took place in front of their concert stage, with Erin on the stage. It was a bit of a tight squeeze, but everyone was in a good mood and space was accommodated when there were stretches or poses that placed, say, my foot overtop my neighbor’s mat.
The class featured a vinyasa flow, focusing on sun salutations and balance poses. The class is suitable for all levels, with beginning poses as the base point and Erin showing variations for intermediate and expert levels. By the end of the hour, my skin was warm and my muscles were stretched. It felt really good resting in shavasana and being surrounded by similarly happy folks.
There was a bit of a dichotomy between the scene near the stage and the bar immediately next to us. We were not the only patrons, as customers who weren’t taking part in the detox half of the night were still being served. The customers were (pretty) quiet, though, and didn’t disturb the class, which was a nice gesture on their part. The only noticeable disturbance — which I actually found funny as opposed to annoying — was that the bar’s music was still playing, so we’d get some classic rock infused with the yoga music playing on our side of the bar. This resulted in a very happy moment where, as we finished our practice, “Stairway to Heaven” started playing. Yoga magic in my mind.
After the class, we walked over to the bar and found a drink I was absolutely craving — water. I was all about the retox to come, but after doing intermediate yoga for an hour, the water was just as much a candidate for five stars on Untappd as any beer. As I sipped (okay, chugged) my water, I ordered my complimentary beer — Dark Hours, a barrel-aged imperial stout from Lost Rhino Brewing Co. Hey, if I’m retoxing, then go big or go home, right?
As I sipped my beer and chatted with Erin, her husband Andy, and other participants, I very much got the sense of community that Erin described in our conversation before the class. Beer is often referred to as a social lubricant, and given how my shyness melts after a couple of pints, I can attest to this. However, the calm and peace I feel after a yoga session gives me that same confidence — and is a lot healthier for me at that. Gathering for a pint was a good excuse to gather, but “taking the yoga off the mat” made the experience all the richer for me, as I was already feeling happier and more confident. This was a pleasant feeling that contributed to me sticking around for awhile (and buying another beer, which I’m sure made the bar happy).
As we spoke afterward about yoga, beer, and our lives, Erin said to me, “Yoga is my therapy. It teaches me patience. It teaches me how to detach.” All of this is certainly true in my practice, and I’m happy that yoga is finding ways to reach myself and others — even at a brewpub. I immediately signed up for the March 7th class when I got home (hope to see you there, Arlington locals), and look forward to making this a regular practice.
One final note: if you attend a similar class where a pint of beer is offered with your class fee, please be mindful of bringing some extra cash to tip the bartender!