A beer tent at the finish line of a 5K is not an uncommon sight, but the latest fitness pairing—yoga and beer—is bringing the workout inside the brewery. Yoga instructors are partnering with breweries across the country, from Hoppy Yoga at San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Co. to OM Brew Yoga at Florida’s Funky Buddha Brewery, to practice poses between tanks and barrels and follow shavasana, the corpse pose, with a pint or a round of tasters.
An unlikely combination, perhaps, but the brewery and the promise of beer after class creates a vibe not found in the typical unsullied yoga studio, says Beth Cosi, founder of Bendy Brewski & Tapas Yoga in Charleston, SC.
At Charleston’s Holy City Brewing, where Cosi teaches classes from March to November, the brewery’s garage-style doors are rolled up so it’s an indoor/outdoor experience, susceptible to gravel, grass, dirt, leaves and rain blowing in. It’s noisy, with the whirr of the glycol chiller and redolent with a potpourri of hops, sweet malt and sweat.
“Sometimes it can get a little bit overwhelming,” says Cosi, who also teaches in a studio. “I’m sure there have been students who have come and tried it out and it’s just not their thing, especially if you’re used to the fancy, pristine cleanliness, all the props, the very controlled incense smell of a studio, which is beautiful, but it’s very different than that.”
Yoga instructors are bringing beer into the studio, too. Cosi also partners with a local yoga studio for a class and tasting called Ales and OMs, and Philadelphia beer writer Joe Sixpack, also known as Don Russell, and his wife, yoga teacher Theresa Conroy, host Happy Hour Yoga, a one-hour all-levels class followed by a beer tasting.
The nontraditional format and space attract a diverse crowd, says Cosi: Her classes are usually split 50/50 between men and women, with students ranging from ages 12 to 55 (beers are served only for the over-21 crowd, of course), clad in everything from Lululemon gear to Carhartts or swim trunks.
The beginner-oriented 45-minute Hatha and Yin style class is followed by four 4-oz samples. A drop-in class costs $15 with tasting included, or a $60 five-class card is available for classes at any of her locations, including Holy City, Freehouse Brewing, Frothy Beard Brewing and Highwire Distilling Co.
Classes also bring new customers into breweries. And in brewery-rich Denver, where Adrienne Rinaldi founded BrewAsanas, there is no shortage of breweries willing to sweep their floors and open their tasting rooms for class. BrewAsanas holds hourlong classes at Denver- and Boulder-area breweries including Jagged Mountain Brewery, Diebolt Brewing Co., Kokopelli Beer Co. and Crystal Springs Brewing Co. She also started a class of vinyasa flow and deeper yin poses, followed by a drink of the fizzy, fermented tea known as kombucha, at Denver’s Happy Leaf Kombucha.
Rinaldi, who is also author of the beer blog “The Beer Snob Chick,” says that after one recent class a student tried a porter and discovered a new favorite style.
“You’re trying something new—yoga in a brewery, right?—so I think people are open to trying new beers and different breweries,” she says.
Mia Sabatino and Lynne Officer, founders of Hoppy Yoga in San Diego, even have a name for that effect of feeling relaxed, blissful and open to meeting new people after a class.
“We like to call those yoga goggles,” Officer says. “It makes people much more open to socialize after they’ve completed their yoga classes.” Sabatino and Officer started Hoppy Yoga a little over a year ago, growing it from a few friends to a loyal following who attend their classes at Green Flash, Mission Brewery, Modern Times Beer and Saint Archer Brewing Co.
It’s also not uncommon to see bartenders and brewery staff join for a class and then get behind the bar afterward, says Sabatino, citing a laid-back like-mindedness shared between the beer and yoga communities.
“The brewers have got to be on board,” agrees Cosi, of Bendy Brewski. “They’ve got to feel and know the benefit of the yoga class. It’s like a tribe.”
Chris Brown, partner and head brewer of Holy City Brewing, met Cosi when they worked together at EVO Pizzeria in North Charleston. She would teach classes there to friends in the food and beverage industry whose lower backs, arms and shoulders often ached. After Holy City Opened, they moved classes to the brewery, where he still joins in weekly.
“We’re on our feet all the time, sometimes nine to 12 hours a day, and we’re lifting lots of things,” he says. “We do the class, stretch it out, have a little bit of beer, and then start the work week.”
Whether it’s yoga after beer, or beer after yoga, the unlikely combination fits together like yin and yang, as Cosi says.
“People who are really into craft beer and things that are locally made, they want to put things that are more fresh and delicious in their body. … With yoga, it’s the same thing. It’s being more mindful and paying attention to your body and feeling a part of something that’s larger than you—being able to come together as a community.”
This story appears in the July issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here for a free trial of our next issue.