Community, unity, beer.
That's what was on the mat and the menu Thursday night at Atwater Brewery in Detroit in an event that offered practice alongside the pints.
The event treated attendees to feed their spiritual side and their social side as the Beer Yogis brought their yoga-and-beer road show to Detroit for the second of 22 stops in just under a month. Yogis were treated to an hour-long vinyasa-style class and a pint of beer, to be enjoyed before, during or after class.
The Beer Yogis are two women living the dream: Mikki Trowbridge, who lives in Salem, Oregon, and Melissa Klimo-Major of Cleveland. They joined forces teaching at two breweries in New York City and then decided to take their efforts on the road to cities they like, wanted to visit or that have good beer.
The lighthearted class took place in a room off the Atwater taproom where yogis practiced while viewing the taproom through large windows.
"People want a workout with their beer," Klimo-Major said, so they chose vinyasa because it offers a more vigorous practice. Trowbridge added that it's also because it's easier for people new to yoga, and beer events attract many folks who are new to yoga.
"Someone who's into yoga and trying to get their friends to come can get people to come for beer," Klimo-Major said. It makes it approachable for everyone, she added.
Beer and yoga were a natural pairing for the two. "They're things we were both naturally passionate about; we liked to go out for a beer after class, so we started offering yoga and beer workshops and they went over really well," Klimo-Major said. From there, they ultimately fashioned this summer's roadmap.
"The principal aspect of our tour is to build a communal environment after class, to create community and make friends with your yoga buddies," said Trowbridge, sporting hops earrings with her yoga pants and tank top.
Klimo-Major was familiar with Atwater's beers. The four-year yoga teaching veteran is a fan of barrel-aged dark beers and saisons. She enjoyed a Vanilla Java Porter after class. Trowbridge, who prefers porters and saisons, especially during Oregon's fresh hops season, also sipped on a Vanilla Java Porter, but chose the nitro version.
"Everything in moderation," Trowbridge said during the yoga class, "You can have too much yoga. You can have too much beer. The key is moderation."
The class may have featured lighter moments -- during a challenging sequence, Klimo-Major urged the yogis to "take a sip of water, or beer" -- but the women are truly driven to connect yoga and beer in a meaningful way.
"People come to yoga to connect with themselves," Trowbridge said. "They also have that desire for connection to the community. We can take it out of the seriousness and make that connection happen."
The social aspect of the event was evident from the beginning. Ellen Faba of Ferndale grabbed a Hop-A-Peel before class and took a few sips while chatting with her friend, Greg Black, who was drinking a Conniption Fit. Asked whether she likes yoga or beer more, she pondered. "Maybe yoga," she said, then switched her answer. "I like them equally." She was drawn to the event by both, she said, since she enjoys yoga with a real community feeling.
"I've seen you drink more craft beer than do yoga," Black said, but of course, he came to Atwater Thursday to drink the beer, not do yoga.
There were no new yogis in the Atwater class, so everyone came prepared to sweat. Trowbridge and Klimo-Major wove in references to beer throughout the class -- at one point, Trowbridge urged everyone to focus on alignment as though there were a small pint glass balanced on each hip and each shoulder. The class itself was challenging and fun, and the beer afterward (Corktown Rye IPA, my favorite) tasted darn good.
Yoga or beer? Stephanie Newell of Detroit refused to pick. "They both serve such a great purpose," she said after class, sipping on a hard cider. Newell, a yoga instructor, plans to lead similar events at Dearborn Brewing later this summer.
"Beer makes it more accessible," Newell said, who came to the event with her friend Malia Xie of Birmingham.
"It's a good end to the work day," said Xie, who was drinking Whango, a mango wheat beer.
The connection of yoga and beer started almost immediately in the class, because the taproom was visible from inside the yoga space. The room was quiet, so we could hear our breath and the instructions from Trowbridge and Klimo-Major. But looking out at the people enjoying their evening made us realize why were were there: to push ourselves, to connect and to drink good beer.
Want to catch the Beer Yogis on tour this summer? Click here.