Beer and yoga. People love them both, right? So why not just merge the two into one activity and call it “beer yoga”?
I can think of a few reasons why not to do this, but the train has already left the station on beer yoga. It is, as this article says, already a “thing.” According to the article, it first got popular with “Berlin hipsters.” And now it’s caught on in Australia.
It sounds like a cheap publicity stunt. I mean, as if yoga has not already been thoroughly enough stripped of its rarified, sacred, Eastern roots. Its popularity in the West has turned it into just another activity–a high-end activity at that, with a whole style culture associated with it–with the occasional “Om” and “Namaste” thrown in for pseudo-spiritual good measure.
But the German group that started it isn’t just serving up beer after a yoga class. According to the BierYoga website:
BeerYoga is the marriage of two great loves–beer and yoga. Both are centuries old therapies for body, mind, and soul. The joy of drinking beer and the mindfulness of yoga compliment each other, and make for an energizing experience.
Now I understand that as a non-drinker who has chosen not to drink because of my addictive personality I may not have the most objective attitude about this. But it strikes me that it may be an exaggeration to call beer a “therapy” for the body, mind or soul. I was always taught that if you’re using booze to feel better, you may well have a problem.
I would think we need to encourage people to drink less, not more, beer. But BierYoga makes some extravagant claims on its website about its “philosophy”:
Beer yoga is fun but it’s no joke–we take the philosophies of yoga and pair it with the pleasure of beer-drinking to reach your highest level of consciousness.
Call me a skeptic, but I just don’t buy it. I mean, maybe you like beer and maybe you like yoga. Fine. So I get that there may be a novelty factor. But if you want to reach your highest level of consciousness, I’m going to say beer yoga is not likely your ticket to nirvana.
In general I’m not keen on the association of drinking with other activities that are good for our health and well-being. I can live without the women and wine theme of the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon, for example, even though I generally like the event. I can’t even imagine wanting to run the beer mile.
I guess my thinking on this is that basically anything that’s worth pursuing is not made better by adding beer or wine or scotch or martinis or anything along those lines. Considering that alcohol is a known depressant and generally acts as a drug with mood-altering qualities, I’m not down with promoting it as a harmless or effective way of achieving well-being. And the pairing of beer with yoga seems especially egregious to me because, granted that most yoga isn’t usually delivered in a way that keeps it strongly grounded in its origins these days, it still has those origins.
In the US, the yoga-beer thing is a bit less integrated. Some breweries are offering “Yoga+Beer” according to this article. Their claims are more modest, not about reaching a higher level of consciousness but instead about doing yoga in unexpected places and then having a beer:
“I find that teaching traditional yoga in nontraditional places brings people to the mat who otherwise wouldn’t normally start a yoga practice,” Erin Sonn, founder of Eat. Yoga. Drink. in Northern Virginia, which offers “Yoga+Beer” sessions, told Washington radio station WTOP.
Backers say it combines two activities with the same goal.
“We do these activities because they’re both relaxing,” Kristin Kelly of the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland, told the Frederick News-Dispatch. “So putting these two activities together really just makes sense. You’re doing your yoga in the morning before the brewery even opens, and then you get to hang out and have a beer.”
Maybe that makes a bit more sense. People everywhere like to go out for something–breakfast, coffee, beer, whatever–after their yoga class, long run, hockey practice, or day on the slopes. It’s a social thing. I can understand that.
But making the drinking of alcohol an integrated part of the activity that’s meant to help you reach an enlightened state. I don’t think so.