Bending the Rules to Offer Yoga With a Beer Chaser

A chef, 24 yogis and a dog walk into an Art Deco bar. It’s 10:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday, and most of the yogis have just completed a 2.3-mile run through downtown Los Angeles, led by a chef, Rob Rice, who is a certified yoga instructor.

Mr. Rice fires up his latest Detox Retox Spotify playlist and guides the class through a series of sun salutations, including a handful of downward dog poses, which arouse the canine into shaming the human yogis when he completes the namesake move perfectly.

Ninety minutes later, the beginner/intermediate class is over. But instead of his traditional signoff of “namaste and cheers,” Mr. Rice extends gratitude to attendees at this inaugural class at Angel City Brewery, which follows Detox Retox’s yearlong success with a Saturday class at Golden Road, a nearby brewery.

Ten minutes later, most participants have paid the $10 fee and traded the drink ticket for a beer at the bar.

Detox Retox is part of a growing trend of yoga paired with post-practice beer. These classes, often placed in breweries, are popping up across the country, and some have cheeky names like Happy Hour Yoga with Joe Sixpack in Philadelphia, BrewAsanas in Colorado (Boulder and Denver) and Three Sheets to the Warrior Pose in Wilmington, Del.

The trend was started two and a half years ago in Charleston, S.C., by Beth Cosi, a restaurant worker turned yoga instructor. Ms. Cosi regularly invited her friends to take her class, but few actually made it to the studio. After connecting with a local brewery, she extended another invitation to her non-yoga-practicing friends to attend a beginner’s class that was followed by a beer tasting.

Ms. Cosi, whose friends showed up, learned that beer is an effective carrot on a stick.

“The biggest surprise is how it’s taken on a life of its own,” she said. “I never envisioned for these classes to grow larger than the one brewery, Holy City, and need to move into other.”

Bendy Brewski classes regularly have more than 50 attendees, so Ms. Cosi added an assistant to help with student adjustments. Ms. Cosi’s most popular class in Charleston’s largest studio? Less than 40, the maximum occupancy of the studio.

Ms. Cosi recently added a class — Bendy Boozey — at a distillery.

The post-class beer adds a social element to yoga. “The largest component is connection: They get permission to hang out,” she said. “People talk and laugh. It’s very social. It’s totally about community. The yoga is secondary. It’s a way to bring people together.”

These classes often include more men than in Ms. Cosi’s traditional classes.

But some purists frown upon adding alcohol to the ancient practice of yoga. Ashtanga Yoga Boston states on its website: “We consider the consumption of alcohol, being both an intoxicant and a poison, to be inconsistent with the practice of Ashtanga yoga. We expect that all students will make a good-faith effort to reduce to a minimum and ideally curtail their consumption of alcohol while enrolled in the school.”

Rhonda Hobgood, the owner of Salt Room Yoga in Seattle, said: “It depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to live yogic lifestyle, paring those two, alcohol and yoga, don’t go together.” She added: “If you’re drinking, you’re detracting from that very subtle process of fine-tuning your consciousness. Alcohol is a toxin. It creates its own state of mental being, which typically people use as an escape. The practice of yoga is the exactly the opposite of escaping yourself. You want to go full into whatever you’re experiencing, without altering it with an external substance.”

Before being lured to Detox Retox with the promise of a post-class beer, Mark Roden had taken about six yoga classes in the last 14 years. In the last 12 months, Mr. Roden has completed about 30 classes and compares the experience to the rise in popularity of atheist megachurches.

“A place for people without spiritual beliefs to get the community aspect of a church,” he said. “That’s what we have at Detox Retox.”

Source: New York Times

When A Yoga Teacher Ticks You Off, Is It Rude To Walk Out?

You’ve made a commitment to yoga to improve your health.

So there you are in class, with a teacher you’ve never had before. And while you’re flipping your down dog, you realize you’re not exactly flipping over the teacher.

Maybe the teacher is a yoga bully: “OK, everybody up for wheel! People in the back row, what’s your problem?”

Maybe the teacher is making absurd claims about yoga (“Doing an inversion is like having a face-lift!”).

Or it’s hot yoga and you’re thirsty and the teacher says, “Don’t drink!” But … you are really thirsty!

Or maybe the teacher just doesn’t seem to know what he or she is doing. And is actually reading from a yoga book to describe a pose.

I’ve been in all those situations. (I’ve also been in classes with amazing teachers who make the minutes fly by and who make me feel so much better than when I did my first down dog of the day, so don’t accuse me of being a yoga basher.)

And I know that staying with a yoga class can be a very good thing. Studies show that the ancient practice can improve flexibility, offer relief for back pain and reduce stress.

But in those classes where everything isn’t flowing my way, the question lurks: Should I pack my mat and go? Or is that bad yoga etiquette? And is there any benefit to sticking it out?

I put the question to yoga teachers. None of them think you can never leave. But some of them definitely leaned toward the idea of staying.

“I think it’s good to respect the space and maybe come to child’s pose,” says Fanny Oehl, who teaches at Yoga Shanti New York. “Unless you think you’re endangering yourself, I would relax on the mat.”

“I have suffered through some miserable classes,” says Peg Mulqueen, who teaches at Flow Yoga in Washington, D.C. “Somebody would have to be doing something pretty egregious for me to walk out. If someone is doing something harmful or going to destroy me, I guess I would pack up and go. Otherwise, it’s all a learning experience: You’re learning what you didn’t want. If you sit through a class, and oh my God that instructor would not shut up, you’ve learned you want to find a class with minimal talking.”

Other instructors say it’s worth sticking it out. “I say to people [who want to leave] take a moment. Why are you leaving? Are you being a spoiled brat?” says Ilona Holland, who teaches in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “Stay till the end, even if you do savasana [aka corpse pose]. Say OK, I did it, I saw it out to the end and it’s really not for me.”

Look inward before heading outward, says Laura Parris, founder of Georgetown Yoga Therapy in Washington, D.C. “If you go to a class where you feel uncomfortable in any way, first look at your own biases: ‘Am I being a little too judgmental? Maybe I can relax a little more, be a little more accepting.’ But if it becomes intolerable, if you feel you’re being abused in some way, leave.”

One example: Her 67-year-old mother went to a class where “the teacher was yelling at her about not being able to get into her position correctly.”

In that situation, Parris says, “Don’t stand for any kind of abuse.” And tell the studio why you’re walking out.

Then again, some yoga teachers don’t believe you need to experience major abuse to take a hike.

“If you’re feeling like you are not into the class, just leave,” says Ayanna Smith, who teaches in Maryland and Washington, D.C. “I’ve had people do that to me. I don’t feel any way about it. I know they’re doing what’s right for them.”

Next time I’m not connecting with a class, I may just take her advice! If you have a different point of view, go ahead and make me eat crow pose!


Yoga Class for Guinness Attempt

To get into the Guinness Book of World Records, a mega yoga demonstration will be held in Dakshina Kannada (DK) and Udupi districts on Wednesday, Udupi District Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake said on Sunday.

Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Yoga Matthu Naithika Shikshana Yojane of Shanthivana Trust in association with the Department of Public Instructions will conduct the event.

He said ‘Yoga for Future’ is the theme of the event. “One lakh students from two districts will gather at 50 different playgrounds between 10 and 10.30 am and demonstrate Soorya Namaskara and a few yogasanas to get in to the Guinness Book,” he said. Some of the yogasanas include Trikonasana, Parshwa Konasana, Shashankasana, Pavana Mukthasana, Sarvangasana, Vajrasana, Makarasana, Bhujangasana and Dhanurasana.

“This attempt will be categorised as the world’s largest yoga class at multiple locations,” event co-coordinator Shailaja Srikanth said. There will be one yoga instructor for every 50 students.

Meanwhile, two students from Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Yoga and Naturotheraphy College will demonstrate yoga at each of the 50 places and two Class A officials will be the witnesses. The entire event will be videographed.

“The exact number of students participating will be counted by the number of ribbon bands issued,” she said.