New social trend blends yoga and beer

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Last summer when yoga instructor Kristy Paul was dining at Brown Iron Brewhouse in Washington Township, she thought their new 100-seat patio would be a dynamite place to host a class.

She’s one of many teachers around the country who are participating in the latest craze of pairing the ancient practice of yoga with beer, brunch, bars and happy hour. Beer and yoga events have been popping up nationwide over the past year in Michigan, Oregon, Wisconsin and California.

In the most basic terms, it’s a yoga class in a bar. Practice some downward-facing dog, down a cold beer after and chat with your fellow yogis. Doing yoga outside of a studio may elevate some of the uncertainty new yoga students may have, too.

“It’s bringing to things that people love into one great community event,” said Paul, who teaches at Bliss Yoga in Shelby Township. She hosted her first class at Brown Iron last September, and brought the monthly event back for the season in May.

“After we did the first one it was really successful. It created a nice dynamic where there’s food and yoga and drinks,” said Paul, a yoga teacher for about three years.

Her class, which they call “Balance, Brunch and Brew,” starts at 9 a.m. on the restaurant’s patio. It is followed by a light brunch at 10 a.m. The $37 price tag includes the class, choice of an entree and a drink (beer, cider or mimosa).

“It’s bringing together two things that people love,” Paul said. “People are always looking for something different and fun to do, and yeah, you can go to a yoga studio or you can go drink beer, but how often can you go to both?”

Brown Iron General Manager Wendy Pulaski said the first event they did with Paul was a hit with men and women alike.

“Our patio is big, it seats 100 people and has two fireplaces and a full bar. ... It’s just a neat space to do yoga in,” Pulaski said.

“It was so well-received that we said, ‘OK, we’re going to keep doing this. Let’s do it through the summer and even through the fall as long as we can, and just make it a regular thing.’ It seems like people really love it.”

It works for the restaurant, because the yoga students often hang out until the Brown Iron opens for the day at 11 a.m.

About 10 miles southwest, Michelle King from the Yoga Shelter said their events at Clubhouse BFD in Rochester are a way for them to offer libations at special events with their students without worrying about not having a liquor license.

“It’s our way of kind of reaching out into the community and partnering with different establishments to bring yoga into the mainstream,” said King. “We looked at a way of partnering with restaurant establishments to bring out a yoga class ... yoga is really becoming very mainstream and our company focus is to be the yoga company that’s for everybody.”

King said she’s been approached by a few restaurants to host yoga classes. The event at Clubhouse BFD next month is called “slow flow,” and aims to attract beginning yoga students. After the one-hour class, the restaurant offers a discount on craft beer.

“People can mix and mingle, so it becomes a social event,” King said. “It’s a great partnership. Yoga is hot right now and people of all ages and sizes are doing yoga and so I think it’s a great way to take a look at yoga being more of a social thing.”

King, who has taught yoga for 10 years and has been a group fitness instructor for 30 years, adds that while there is no scientific data that links beer with making one better at yoga, drinking in moderation after your practice isn’t going to hurt.

“We promote moderation and leading a healthy and balanced life and this is a way to partner with outside establishments and create a social atmosphere that will make yoga kind of inviting to those who may not necessarily choose to do yoga.”

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Twitter: @melodybaetens

Yoga and beer events

Brown Iron Brewery with Bliss Yoga: A one-hour yoga class on the patio with instructor Kristy Paul, followed by a light brunch and beverage. 9 a.m. June 25, and monthly through the summer. $37. 57695 Van Dyke, Washington Township. (586) 697-3300.

Beer Yogis at Atwater Brewery: A 60-minute vinyasa flow class for all levels. Ticket includes class and a pint. 6:30-7:30 p.m. June 30. $25. 237 Jos Campau, Detroit.

Clubhouse BFD and the Yoga Shelter: “Slow” flow yoga class with instructor Sarah Woodman followed by half-off Michigan draft beer and beer discussion. 11 a.m. July 10 with featured brewery Dark Horse. $20. 2265 Crooks, Rochester Hills. Email to reserve a space or inquire about future events.