The Best New Trend In Yoga Brings Beer Drinking To The Mat
Jay Dawson June 7th 2017 Health
We've seen some pretty insane trends in our time. Some of them have been mere memes, some of them have somehow stuck around, and some of them have just been downright stupid. Well, we've uncovered the newest craze around, and for once it actually makes a whole lot of sense. It's called Beer Yoga, and it's going to change the way you think about exercise forever.
A Spiritual Union
We're not going to beat around the bush with this one. The name really says it all: it's yoga, but with beer. Have you ever heard of a combination that sounds so perfect? Yoga is not just about flexibility and subtle exercise - it's also a workout for the spirit, an exercise for the soul. It's about channeling the good energy into your life, and using slow and steady mindfulness to bring calm to your day.
Which is, in a way, exactly what beer does too. Sure, it can be abused, but then again so can exercise (just look at bodybuilders). When you sit down for a beer at the end of the day, though, you're performing a ritual that brings you relief, brings you into the present moment, and as the cool malty richness of the brew slides down your parched throat, makes everything in the world seem just right. So why not bring the two together?
History Of Yoga
Let's start with yoga, the ancient art that's part of everyday life for millions of people around the world. Yoga is not necessarily just the exercises you see advertised at your local gym. Developed around the 5th and 6th century BCE in ancient India, yoga - as it figures in Hindu, Buddhist and Janaist religions, is a combination of physical, spiritual, and mental practices that bring about a better state of being and religious devotion.
It's about meditation as much as the physical exercise (which is called Hatha Yoga, a branch of the larger tree of yoga). As yoga took form and developed, during 200BCE to 500AD, its philosophy and system were also put into writing. But it wasn't until the mid-19th century that the western world really started to notice this ancient art. And it took the free love movement of the 1960s to really make it popular with modern-day audiences.
Other Yoga Combinations
Since its resurgence in the 1980s, yoga has almost never left the public consciousness. Even people who are not spiritually minded, or distrust the ancient religious teachings, find value in its meditation and exercise. Gyms with yoga classes and yoga studios have sprouted like flowers across the world, offering this unique kind of exercise to the masses, and now there are hundreds of millions of devout followers.
The other feature of the 21st century, of course, is commercialization. Yoga studios won't survive on love alone. So yoga studios have had to come up with new and weird ways to promote the activity, and bring in members that might go elsewhere. From the old fad of bikram or "hot" yoga has come even stranger versions: things like antigravity yoga (in a hammock), yoga on a stand-up paddleboard, snowga (yoga in the snow), noga (yoga, butt-naked), and doga (yoga with a dog). We wish we made that last one up.
The Beauty Of Beer
So adding beer to yoga isn't really as wacky as it may seem, especially in a class where you tend to get all hot and sweaty. What better way to replace those precious bodily fluids? Beer is, despite the best efforts of teetotalers and governments to tell us otherwise, a wonderful thing. A nectar of the gods. It lets us relax, tastes like heaven, and gives us pleasure at the end of a hard day.
Beer has an ancient history and tradition that can't be denied, much like yoga. In fact, since it possibly dates back to 9500BCE, it's the oldest alcoholic beverage in existence and possibly even older than yoga itself. Currently, it's the third most popular beverage in the world, after water and tea, and it's easy to see why. Even back in 5000BCE, in Uruk (what is now Iraq), workers were actually paid in beer. Quite possibly the best system in the planet.
For a while, though, beer was going through a flat patch. The world of beer was more or less owned by just a handful of mega breweries, and most beer in the last two decades was becoming more and more generic, more mass-manufactured. It was mostly the labels that differentiated one beer from another - not the taste. And this was when beer became a tool to get drunk, not a liquid drunk for pleasure.
Enter the craft brewers, which in a sense have been operating in Germany for centuries, but have only really caught on elsewhere in the last decade. They're small, independently-run breweries that are not afraid to use both bold flavors and traditional methods to make beer with love. And now, beer is almost on the same level as wine: a drink made so well, and with such variance in flavor and subtlety, that it can be paired with certain foods. It's back again as a drink that we have, simply because we love it.
How You Do It
But enough about the history of yoga and beer, and how this beautiful marriage came to be. It's time to show you exactly how it can be done. It's going to be explained much further in the video to come, but for now we'll give you, as it were, a little taste of the action. Are you ready? Roll out your mat, slip on some tights, and grab a beer. Let's get started.
Actually, you're already doing Beer Yoga. That's all you need: to do yoga while you have a beer in the hand. Just try all the classic poses - The Warrior, The Archer, The Downward Dog, The Drunken Monkey - and keep that beer off the floor. It might seem like the stupidest of combinations, but you'll soon find that it's actually not. It actually requires a lot of concentration, once you add beer into the mix.
The Benefits Of Beer Yoga
One of the goals of Beer Yoga, in fact, is to make those astana (poses) that little bit more difficult. By holding and having to balance a beer at the same time, you're working extra muscles and improving your balance more than in regular yoga. Which is probably about the first time in the history of the world that beer has been used to give you better balance.
There are a number of other benefits to this unusual brand of yoga. Beer, obviously, is a relaxant, so in small amounts it can actually make you more flexible and more able to push your body to the limits. Given the social atmosphere of yoga, too, drinking beer while you're working out is a natural fit. Not to mention beer's other benefit, too: it makes those unflattering gym pants look so much hotter.
As good as beer yoga is - and you'll see for yourself in the following video - we can't help but feel that it's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to weird yoga. Why stop at beer, anyway? A beer bottle seems too easy - why not bring in a gin and tonic or a cosmopolitan, and make it a real challenge to pull those poses without spilling your drink everywhere?
Even moving past liquor-based yoga, there's a whole world of possibilities. We're talking yoga on an anthill, where you have to try and hold your poses while an army of fire ants crawl all over your body. Or skydiving yoga, an expensive but thrilling form of the practice. It might not help with the meditation, but it certainly would be a lot quicker. These are just two thoughts - where do you think yoga's heading next?
Where You Can Do It
Beer Yoga, for the moment, is not a worldwide phenomenon. Visit an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas and you're pretty unlikely to find it being practiced. No, for the moment it's only available in a few places, mostly where craft breweries have taken up the banner and organized it in conjunction with their brewery tours and tasting paddles.
If you're in Berlin, Germany, or even Australia, you're in luck: these beer giants jumped on the bandwagon pretty quickly. There's some breweries in the States that are offering it, but you'll have to head to the big craft scenes in Portland, New York, and Milwaukee. There's also the Burning Man festival, which is where this craziness all started, or you could just bring a beer to your local studio and see if they say anything. Then again, you could just do it at home. That way, you don't have to drive back.
Learning For Yourself
Yoga is all about preparation, and Beer Yoga doubly so. Now that you've learned the facts and the history, you're almost ready to get started. All you need now is to drink a glass of milk, line the stomach, and maybe do a few stretches. Even once you've done that, you might want to have a few warm-up beers just to lubricate the mind. It's hard to achieve a Zen-like state with all that stress on your shoulders.
Once you've done all that, you're ready to learn how to do Beer Yoga. If you're already familiar with yoga, just take a look at this video and you'll be on your way to becoming a beer yogi in no time at all. And if you've never tried yoga before, a) what planet do you live on? and b) that beer will really help ease you in to this world of pain.