Local breweries get the zen treatment

Photo: Breweries, such as Springboro’s Crooked Handle, offer large and open spaces for yoga; photo: Dana Walczak

By Dana Walczak

I’m not a yogi. Not by any means. I’ve dabbled here and there throughout the years, but it never really stuck. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like it to, but here we are. So, when I discovered that you can take non-committal yoga classes at breweries throughout Dayton at a fraction of the price of a studio class, I was intrigued. Some of the breweries that provide these monthly classes include Warped Wing Brewery, Toxic Brew Company, Dayton Beer Company, and Crooked Handle Brewing Company.

Beer and yoga are two of the best ways to relieve stress, so combining them made sense to me. A workout I could get behind. Thinking I could finally find my zen, I took a “Yoga on Tap” class at Crooked Handle, and I actually enjoyed it.

“When we first started the classes, it was just as a free community event on Wednesdays during the day,” says Taproom Manager Kristy Moore. “But once we realized that people are working and kids were in school, it wasn’t very successful. But once we started to do yoga and brunch on Saturday mornings, we have sold out every event so far.”

Classes are taught by Jessica Hecker, who also teaches at Ignite, Club 51, and Practice Fitness, and are tailored to fit any skill level. Whether you are a yoga-every-damn-day practitioner or you haven’t the slightest idea what downward dog is, Hecker will make the class work for you. One of my favorite aspects of the class was that there wasn’t a single sun salutation in sight. It was a creative practice, and I was engaged the entire time. Not to mention the music is better. No Enya in these classes.

Yoga and craft beer may sound like an odd combination, but the passion and friendliness of each industry creates a sense of community that crosses over seamlessly to both. It is not uncommon for breweries to embrace their communities and their interests therein. Beer yoga is just one of the many “extra” activities you will find at your local brew pub. From trivia nights, to painting classes, to collaborative beers with other local breweries. There is something for everyone to participate in while enjoying a pint.

“I love yoga, and I knew that this was a space where it could be done. I just thought it was a great way to bring, specifically, women into the brewery that might not come by themselves. Unfortunately, now I don’t get to participate in the classes because I’m running the bar,” Moore says.

Around the area, more and more people are attending such classes as a way to do something productive and fun.

“[These classes] are a good way for women to get their husbands or significant others to do something with them that they would never, ever do,” Hecker says. “It is also a great way to connect with your friends that [you] might not get to see very often because time doesn’t allow. Or we might not want to take the time away from our family and children to go to dinner with our friends, but we can go work out on a Saturday morning—it feels better, sounds better. It helps to build community and relationships.”

Beer yoga classes have seen an increase in popularity in the past few years. With a huge following out West and in Europe, largely due to the boom of the craft brewing industry and the idea of a living a healthy and active lifestyle, classes can be found pretty much anywhere you look.

These classes have only relatively recently started receiving attention in the U.S. News sites like the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have reported on these classes starting in Germany and Australia.

Part of the lack of widespread national attention might be due to the communities in which these classes take place. While of course the brewery wants to make money, they don’t need to advertise these classes much because repeat regular patrons and word of mouth help to quickly fill up the spots. (When you find a local watering hole you like and you can work out there, you most likely stick with it. And you tell your friends.)

Breweries, by design, are usually large and open, making a great setting for people to spread out their mats and relax. And while you are allowed to drink during the class, and people won’t judge you for it, it is typically recommended to wait until the class is over. Balancing is hard when you are tipsy.

“That’s what I like about the class,” says Crooked Handle bartender Ashley Paul. “Nobody pays attention to whether you are good or not.”

And who cares if you wind up drinking back all of the calories you burned? You will still leave feeling good about yourself.

 

For the next available beer and yoga sessions, please call Warped Wing Brewery at 937.222.7003, Toxic Brew Company at 937.985.3618, Dayton Beer Company at 937.228.2337, and Crooked Handle Brewing Company at 937.790.3450.

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Dana Walczak
Reach DCP freelance writer Dana Walczak at DanaWalczak@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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