By Kosta Miachin
Beer yoga—yet another yoga hybrid, which this time has made its way overseas from a small yoga studio in Germany.
After being discovered by some Australian yoga enthusiasts and then eventually making its way to the UK, it is now being described as the latest international fitness craze. The class takes the form of a regular vinyasa practice, except students combine the poses with taking sips from a beer bottle. “Beer salutations” have replaced sun salutations, and the bottle is even being used as a prop by balancing it on the head to test balance.
Let’s take a second to really think about this. What is the purpose of Beer Yoga? Why do people do yoga? Why do people drink beer? Is the marriage of the two appropriate or necessary?
Most people go to yoga to stretch, tone and strengthen their bodies, whilst also learning to calm the incessant chatter of their minds. There are already a range of yoga “methods,” ranging from more traditional hatha, to invigorating vinyasa. Somewhere in the mix there also exists relaxing yin yoga, and yoga nidra (which is essentially yogic sleep). There is now even an airborne variety of the practice known as aerial yoga. Despite their differences, the underlying purpose of all these practices is to teach the practitioner how to live in the present moment, thus taking away the stresses and strains of everyday life.
For centuries in the western world, drinking alcohol has been a deeply integrated part of the culture. Most people drink in order to help them relax and unwind after a hard day’s work. On weekdays after work—not to mention weekends—bars and pubs are full of punters where drinkers can be found en masse.
The argument for the marriage of yoga and beer is that both can help us slow down, release tension and let off steam. It can also be argued that both practices act as a form of escapism—a small break where we don’t have to think about the pressures of our daily routines. Both give us time to come back to ourselves, connect to our surroundings and to find joy.
Additionally, both drinking and yoga can provide a sense of community. People often refer to their “drinking buddies” or their “yoga friends,” and it is clear that many close relationships are formed equally around local watering holes and local yoga studios. From this point of view it’s possible to draw comparisons. With alcohol consumption being an integral part of our culture, and the health and wellness industry rising at an astounding rate, it seems inevitable that the two would eventually collide.
On the other hand, it’s thanks to the rise of the health and wellness industry that more and more people are starting to reduce alcohol consumption due to its unhealthy nature and the devastating effects on the body and the mind. Therefore, pairing it with yoga—which traditionally views the body as a vessel to be loved and cared for in action and in thought—can be seen as somewhat of a juxtaposition.
We could get caught up for hours debating and discussing whether or not beer-drinking and yoga should be uttered in the same breath, much less performed in the same vicinity, but it seems of little importance. Beer yoga is a craze, and will undoubtedly pass with time, most likely with the onset of winter. Yoga, on the other hand, has been practiced in the west for the best part of a century and with more people stepping onto a mat for the first time every day, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon.
Looking at the positives, beer yoga could entice a whole new kind of practitioner into becoming a dedicated yogi.
Diversifying the practice of yoga allows for a multitude of new possibilities. Putting a new spin on an old practice, that we have seen many times before, in many different forms, allows the practice to be explored and developed again and again.
So, instead of criticising and questioning how these new varieties of yoga take form, perhaps we should instead be celebrating how our loved practice is spreading and evolving. It doesn’t matter whether or not you enjoy your asanas accompanied by a cold beer, as long as you are practicing with the right intention.
After all, collaboration is vital for evolution, and the practice of yoga is also the practice of acceptance. Food (beer) for thought!
Editor: Dana Gornall