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How to Pair Beer and Yoga

Misc Musings

Combining beer and yoga makes sense. Finding the perfect pairing is what’s difficult. This guide will get you saying “Namaste” faster than you can tap a keg.

Beer and yoga are both ancient, so old that nobody knows exactly know how old they are. That’s probably why beer and yoga go well together. I call this perfectly matched pairing, “boga.” There are many reasons to boga, and-- surprise, surprise -- they’re all about balance:

  • Yoga is physically taxing. Beer is full of vitamins and minerals and energy (calories). If your yoga gets you down, beer will pick you back up!
  • Yoga is also mentally taxing. Hops are natural sedatives and beer releases mood-promoting brain juices. If your yoga gets you up, beer will take you back down.
  • Yoga is an exercise that turns your focus inward, mindfully noticing what’s happening in your brain and body as you practice. This is true even in public classes. On the other hand, drinking beer is a social exercise -- trying new breweries and flavors is a great way to make new friends or connect with the old. What’s that mean? Yoga + Beer = Balance!

By now you’re probably cracking open a beer and flexing your toes, ready to give boga try. You’re probably looking for breweries that already host yoga classes, like Jester King (Texas), Santiam (Oregon), Interboro (New York). Or, you can sign up for groups like Just Add Yoga and Beer Fit Club who partner with breweries to host regular classes and one-off events.

So you’ve made it to your mat -- but what will you drink?! Yoga and beer are both complex, multi-faceted undertakings. This pairing guide will help you find the style and flavor for you.

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Photo by @rashidkhreiss on Unsplash.com

Hatha: The first style of yoga ever, Hatha was also the only style for many years. These classes always follow the same sequence of poses. It’s equally great for beginners who haven’t memorized pose names and for advanced yogis who can push themselves. You’ll do one pose; hold it; and then move on to the next, no “flowing” required.
Pairs well with: Pilsner. No frills, no unexpected flavors, just a good, light taste that you come to know, love, and crave.

Kundalini: The Kundalini yogis get real hippie with it. They believe that energy is stored like a coiled snake at the base of our spine. Yoga’s job is to unwind that energy right up the chakras, which are energy centers along the spine. Classes have lots of fast-moving, repetitive motions with breaks for deep breathing, corework, and chanting. Rise, snakey, rise!
Pairs well with: Wild Ales, the hippies of the beer world that rely on unlocking the hidden energy of the yeast all around us. Try to find a beer that uses local yeast and a brewery that finds it with their own two hands.

Power: Like Hatha yoga, Power asks you to hold poses for longer than is comfortable. But in Power Yoga you’ll do different poses in each class, probably building to something a bit pretzel-y. Don’t worry -- you’ll still get a good long savasana (when you just lay there at the end).
Pairs well with: A loaded DIPA that offers a heavy fist burst of flavor, like the intense Power poses, but lands with a soft IPA finish, like the relaxation of savasana.

Iyengar: A famous yogi named B.K.S. Iyengar coined this unique style that uses straps, hanging from a wall and other props to help yogis get really deep. It’s relaxing and great for injuries. Or, vampires, because you do a lot of hanging upside down.
Paris well with: Dark Imperial Stouts -- the deeper the roastiness, the better!

Trapeze: Seriously! You can do yoga while hanging on a trapeze! It’s a swing-like structure that supports you when you do poses that mildly resemble the yoga poses you mildly recognize. Although it’s a totally modern and unexpected rendition of yoga, hanging upside down with your legs spread wide feels freaking awesome on your back.
Pairs well with: Black Lager, another unexpectedly delicious, modern take on an old classic.

Ashtanga: This is basically the Crossift of yoga, an intense exercise of six different series that culminate in pose transitions fit for Cirque de Soleil. There is a clear progression: once you’ve nailed series one, linking all the poses together seamlessly, then you do series one and series two. You build each series pyramid-style until you’re doing amazing stretchy things for hours. People tend to get into Ashtanga because they can memorize the series and keep adding more.
Pairs well with: A session IPA -- you’ll never stop!

Vinyasa: This is perhaps the most popular type of yoga class in America. The term means something like, “one breath with one movement.” So, you’ll move through poses more-or-less continuously, trying to be graceful as you do. Every class is different and usually set to music. Your instructor will most likely teach you several poses and then string them together in a flow. Vinyasa is basically unregulated, so come without expectations.
Pairs well with: Hazy IPAs, because they’re trending and some say they lack clear definition…

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Photo by @Form on Unsplash.com

Bikram/ Hot Yoga: Bikram Choudry founded this style and its offshoots. Bikram emphasizes joint mobility, holding poses, an instructor who never shuts up, and a set sequence of poses. Most importantly, you practice in a room that’s anywhere from 97-107 degrees and 50%-90% humidity. It’s like doing yoga in a sauna. Like “Zumba” and “Crossfit,” “Bikram” yoga is a brand that you have to pay to use. That’s why you’ll often see “hot yoga” instead. If you’re super tight, this is the practice for you.
Pairs well with: Cask ale, because this is perhaps the only style of beer that is intentionally served “warm” (in beer speak that means room temperature). It’s also an old-school English style favored by old-school blokes, who also tend to love hot yoga’s ability to loosen their creaky joints.

Yin/ Restorative: This is great for people who have no problem laying around, doing nothing, and paying for it. You’ll lay in poses for such a long time that even your blood slows. You’ll also use props like pillows and soft blocks to help you get 100% relaxed.
Pairs well with: Boozy Barleywine -- get drunk and just lay around, feeling grateful for tradition.

Forrest: Forrest Yoga was the first style of yoga to emphasize the idea of “breathing into” pain -- i.e., instead of running from your screaming muscles, confront the tension and sit through it. Creator, Ana Forrest is a freak for handstands, twisty power poses, and slow-burner core work.
Pairs well with: Spicy beers, with ingredients like serrano pepper -- you’ll feel the burn!

There are so many types of yoga and so many types of beer that you’ll surely be able to find one version of each that suits you. Have fun with the experimentation, and comment here if you discover a crafty new boga combo!

Written by Emily Stewart

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