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Yoga and Beer: An Unlikely Match

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Namaste, now let’s raise a pint.

Beer + yoga at Mantra Artisan Ales in Nashville.
Beer + yoga at Mantra Artisan Ales in Nashville.
Tyler Sharpe

Most yoga enthusiasts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces of water after class, not 16 ounces of craft beer. Yet, yoga classes followed by a pint of beer are becoming increasingly popular at breweries throughout the country.

Yoga and beer may seem like an unlikely duo, but a quick Google search yields a long list of breweries offering weekly yoga classes, often on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Even Lululemon, the Canadian-based purveyor of stylish yoga wear, is part of this growing trend. Last summer, the company introduced a specialty beer, Curiosity Lager, available in slender cans and made by Stanley Park Brewing in Vancouver, Canada.

Though it’s unclear how, exactly, this movement was born, the New York Times credits Beth Cosi, owner of Bendy Brewski Yoga in Charleston, S.C., with leading the first brewery yoga class which ended with a pint post workout.

Cosi’s first informal yoga class took place in 2011 at Charleston's Holy City Brewing to help the brewery’s employees deal with upper back and shoulder pain commonly associated with working behind a bar. "I had friends who were chefs and bartenders," says Cosi, who was teaching yoga and waiting tables at the time, "and I could never get them to come to my yoga class because they were too intimidated to come to the studio."

Initially, Cosi lead a 30 minute morning class for Holy City's male employees. When they invited their girlfriends to join, too, Cosi asked Holy City’s owner Chris Brown if she could open the class up to the public and use a free pint of beer as an incentive to get people in the door.

Brewery yoga at Bendy Brewski Yoga in Charleston. [Photo by Emily Shoemaker]

Cosi held her first public Holy City class in May 2011. She now leads two weekly classes there, another at Tradesman Brewing, also in Charleston, and a monthly class at nearby High Wire Distilling Co., where yoga is followed by a cocktail. In fact, Cosi’s yoga classes in breweries have been such a success that she stopped teaching studio yoga two years ago.

"I never thought a true yogi would want to do yoga at a brewery."

Rob Rice, owner of Detox Retox Events in Los Angeles, tells a similar story of how yoga and beer became unlikely partners at Golden Road Brewing. Rice was training as a yoga instructor in 2012 while working at a restaurant. When one of his kitchen buddies saw the positive effects of yoga on Rice’s body, he asked Rice to show him a few moves. Rice and his friend practiced poses on the front lawn at Golden Road Brewing each day, and soon other people at the brewery wanted to join.

Now, Detox Retox Events offers classes and gatherings at several Los Angeles breweries, including a Sunday morning run, yoga, and beer class at Downtown's Angel City Brewery. Participants run 2 miles, participate in a 90-minute vinyasa flow class, and then enjoy a pint of beer afterward. The 60 person class sells out each week, and many have been coming for the past three years, Rice says.

"I never thought a true yogi would want to do yoga at a brewery," he admits.

Meanwhile, Derrick Morse and his wife, Kaleigh Morse, have been practicing yoga for three years and working in the craft beer industry since 2008. When they decided to open their own brewery, they wanted to combine these two interests, and thusly they opened Mantra Artisan Ales in Nashville, Tennessee, last November.

Mantra Artisan Ales

Inside Mantra Artisan Ales in Nashville. [Photo by Tyler Sharpe]

Mantra’s logo features a yogi in a lotus flower and a lotus flower within a hop cone. In addition to offering a weekly yoga class, Mantra even brews a milk chai stout named Japa—a word that represents the casual chanting sometimes practiced during yoga.

Morse sees the yoga and beer combination as a natural extension of the synergy between craft beer and outdoor activities. Go to any craft beer centric location, he says, and you’ll find a large portion of the population engaged in an outdoor activityrunning, snowboarding, or bikingand then having a recovery pint afterward. In fact, he says, when he and his wife lived in Boulder, Colorado, they’d go to a yoga class and afterwards visit a nearby brewery with friends from the class for a recovery drink.

"It’s the balance of detox and retox."

Cosi agrees that people who are active generally also enjoy craft beer and good food. "The people who drink moderately are also the people who exercise," she says. "It’s the balance of detox and retox. They’re the people who, afterward, are going out and getting a cocktail or a beer with friends because they want to celebrate themselves, living well, and eating and drinking well."

Mia Degroot, co-owner of Hoppy Yoga in San Diego, California, says yoga has become as social an activity as skiing and biking. Customers aren’t rolling up their mats and heading to their cars without talking to each other at the end of class, she says. Even if you don’t know anyone, if you attend class in a brewery you stay and have a beer afterwards.

Degroot and her business partner Lynne Officer launched Hoppy Yoga three years ago. Now they teach yoga classes at 10 breweries in and around San Diego, including Mission Brewery (their first client), Green Flash Brewing Co., and Modern Times Beer.

Outdoor brewery yoga at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles.

Outdoor brewery yoga at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles.

Our classes attract a mix of people, Degroot explains. Some started as craft beer drinkers and decided to try yoga, and others originally came just for the yoga but found they really like craft beer. In fact, Degroot admits she was never really a big craft beer drinker before she started teaching yoga at breweries, but now she couldn’t imagine teaching a yoga class in a studio because she would miss having a beer afterwards.

Yoga classes at breweries are often much cheaper than those taught at yoga studios, and usually don’t cost more than a pint or two of beer. Prices range from $5 for a 60-minute yoga class at Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, N.C. (plus a pint of beer), to $10 for a 2-mile run and 90-minute yoga class (plus a pint of beer) at Angel City Brewery, to $20 for a 75-minute yoga class (followed by a beer flight tasting or a pint) at Green Flash Brewing Co.

Regardless of this trend's roots, most brewery staff will admit that yoga is a good way to introduce new clientele to their beers. "We have people who never heard of our brewery, finding it because they searched for yoga classes," says Jackie Rubbo, director of creative, culture and chaos at Yonkers Brewing Co., in Yonkers, New York. "We also have people who come in for a drink and see that we are doing yoga and get interested."

Morse believes the combination of yoga and beer is a great way to market Mantra’s brews to more women. "I dislike the concept that craft beer is just for men," Morse says. "We’re trying to transcend that craft beer has to be only for millennial and Gen X men. We want to make craft beer gender neutral."