Updated on January 4, 2017
“Bring your gaze to the bottle. Focus on how it looks.
Now feel the bottle. Feel how cool it is. The coolness of the condensation; the squishiness of the beer cozy; maybe you can even feel the label under your fingers.
Now bring the beer to your ear, and listen. You might hear the bubbling away of the carbonation; or maybe you hear the hollow sound that you might hear from a seashell. “Bringing the beer now to your nose, inhale the scent. You might be able to smell the hops or wheat; or perhaps even a fruity smell.
And finally, we take a sip, noticing how cool it is on the tongue, feeling it trickle down the throat, how the taste changes from the front of the tongue to the back.
…and it’s always a good idea to take a second sip, just to make sure you got all that.”
The attention to detail, the deep appreciation… sounds like a craft beer tasting, right? Right? Right?
It’s the opening meditation of Beer Yoga.
(Okay so it didn’t sound that much like a beer tasting.)
My wife loves yoga.
And after years of her asking me to try yoga with her, this summer I decided to give it a crack. With the full expectation that my bits wouldn’t bend the right way and I’d fall over an awful lot.
The first time we went, I took some beers to have as a reward after the class. (I needed it. So much pain.)
We went two more times. And you know what? I liked it.
Then I discovered that Beer Yoga exists.
And my life changed forever.
We showed up to The Brat Cave, a new small bar in Woolloongabba, where people were milling around, chatting with yoga mats under their arms.
I borrowed one from behind the bar, and started to glance around nonchalantly to see if anyone had a beer yet. Do we get our beer before the class? Or after?
At two minutes before go-time, everyone grabbed a beer from the bar. I went for a tinnie of Mountain Goat Fancy Pants in a Brat Haus stubby cooler (that’s ‘beer cozy’ to some of you) and took my place in front of the instructor Sammy. At which point the above meditation kicked off the class, and I realised this is DEFINITELY my kind of yoga.
“Reach forward and scoop up your beer.
Now inhale deeply as you lift it above your head.
Now exhale as you bring it down to heart centre… and take a sip.”
Whenever Sammy led us in Reverse Warrior pose (or as I like to call it, “Hello, Clouds!”), she told us to take a cheeky sip as we sent our top arm up and over our head. When we were in Tree pose, she encouraged us to have some ‘liquid balance’. (Isn’t beer more like liquid unbalance? Either way, I fell over a bunch of times—and I wasn’t even doing the most difficult version of it.)
Every yoga class ends with a pose called Shivasana… which is just lying on your back. I’m excellent at that pose. Yoga combines exercise and relaxation, and while I’m new to exercise, I’m a long-time pro at relaxation. And you know, I think this is one of the reasons beer and yoga go so well together.
- Yoga’s a relaxation technique, and newcomers often feel self-conscious trying some of the weird positions.
- Beer’s a relaxant, and lowers your inhibitions.
They’re a perfect match.
(Of course, beer can also affect your balance and co-ordination. But that just makes the crazy poses more fun, right?)
“Personally, I haven’t done any exercise since 1998 up until 2016,” said Ben from The Brat Cave. He fell in love with the concept of Beer Yoga when he heard about it happening in Berlin, and decided Brisbane needed it.
“Now I’ve been to Beer Yoga almost every time. I forgot how good stretching can make you feel, and with a delicious cold beer to reward each painful reach up or forward or worse, out, that beer becomes my saviour.”
“Beer Yoga shows those like myself, who love beer but not exercise, that Yoga doesn’t have to be serious.”
And for this, Ben found the ideal yoga teacher—Samantha Ball.
“I’ve always been a fan of beer,” Sammy told me. “I managed to sneak a sip of my dad’s beer every now and then when I was younger.”
She started practising yoga because she was stressed out from her 9 to 5 government job.
“Beer and yoga seem to be the perfect match—as long as it’s done mindfully.”
And Sammy does a great job of bringing the two together seamlessly. She even managed to get her husband, who refuses to do yoga, to test out the Beer Yoga moves before the first class… beer included, of course.
I’ve only yoga’d four times so far. I’m still quite wobbly, and I even rolled backwards over my head once, which I’m pretty sure isn’t meant to happen. But I’ve already noticed myself getting better at some of the moves—I’m getting stronger and bendier, which must be a good thing.
So maybe this ‘exercise’ thing isn’t so bad. And a cold tinnie certainly gives me incentive to show up, which I plan to do again as soon as Beer Yoga starts back up in February.
Yoga classes generally end with thanking yourself and/or each other and/or ‘the universe’, or something of the like. At the end of Beer Yoga, we thanked the beer.
“And next time you have a beer—try to enjoy it mindfully.”
Which is pretty much what the craft beer movement is about, isn’t it?
Would you be willing to have a crack at Beer Yoga? Let me know in the comments.