Yoga is often associated with green tea and cold-pressed juices, but alcohol? Not so much. Yet the latest fitness fad to twist the yoga community into a bind is sipping a pint while practicing.
A studio dedicated to beer yoga first popped up in 2015, fittingly enough in Germany, home of the world’s finest beers. “Beer Yoga is the marriage of two great loves — beer and yoga,” the BierYoga website reads. “Both are centuries-old therapies for body, mind, nd soul. The joy of drinking beer and the mindfulness of yoga complement each other, and make for an energizing experience.”
Yet the practice didn’t originate in Berlin, but rather at the eclectic California arts festival Burning Man (of course). BierYoga founder Jhula became inspired to find enlightenment with a frosty cold one after seeing it done at the iconic event.
As the practice spreads across the globe (now with classes offered in Australia, Asia, and New Zealand), yogis remain torn over whether reaching a higher state of consciousness while under the influence is really the smartest route.
While drinking beer does offer some health benefits like strengthening your bones, aiding in digestion, and preventing anemia, it does not act as a substitute for water. Getting buzzed while trying to balance a beer bottle on your head is not only potentially hazardous, but could distract you from reaching nirvana.
“It’s contradictory. Yoga is supposed to increase your consciousness, whereas, drinking beer lowers it. Alcohol makes you sleepy,” Fitness expert Amaresh Ojha told The Hindustan Times.
Drinking alcohol will alter your state of consciousness thereby making it more difficult to concentrate and reach a higher level of awareness. Furthermore, yoga is traditionally practiced on an empty stomach.
“Doing proper yoga requires (an) empty stomach. That is 4 hours after having a simple meal and 8 hours after having any kind of alcohol,” Facebook user Suma Narayanappa wrote on the Facebook page for a beer yoga event in Sydney.
Practicing yoga on an empty stomach is essential in gaining the maximum health benefits of the practice. If you don’t practice yoga on an empty stomach, you could increase your chances of disrupting the digestive process and contributing to bloating, gas, or nausea during your practice. Yoga requires a lot of energy to perform the various poses, and if practiced on a full stomach, the energy needed to aid in the digestion process is taken away, which limits your body’s ability to digest properly.
Many yoga poses also require pressure on your stomach. Flipping upside down right after sloshing down some bubbly brew might compel you to run to the nearest bathroom instead of focusing on your mat.
Beer yoga and similarly unusual fitness crazes like weed-infused yoga definitely attract new participants, but they threaten the core of the practice and its health and spiritual benefits.
While I am always one to venture out and try new, unique forms of yoga like laughter yoga for instance, this trend is one I am sure not to attempt. I am certainly an alcohol enthusiast (a glass of wine a day is good for the heart, right?), but beer yoga definitely feels sacrilegious for this ancient practice and counterproductive to my own health goals. Call me granola or old-fashioned, but I’ve appreciated the internal serenity yoga brings and mixing it with alcohol (something I reserve for more social occasions) just disturbs the solitary peace I crave from yoga.
Maybe I’m not edgy enough to clink glasses during my tree pose, but something I might be more intrigued to try is post-yoga beer tastings. These classes are typically offered at breweries and are beginning to pop up across the United States in cities like Los Angeles. Beth Cosi of Bendy Brewski Yoga is credited with starting this movement once she began offering brewery yoga classes in Charleston, South Carolina. After your yoga session, you get to have a pint with your fellow yogis. They combine the fun of drinking with yoga without clashing the two during your personal time on the mat.
So while turning yoga into a happy hour might sound like a fun time, if you are serious about having a relaxing mindfulness meditation, it’s best to save the drink for after yoga class.
Have you ever tried beer yoga?
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