Yoga District bends the brunch rules

December 1, 2013

Kate Ainsworth, left, leads a Sunday morning class at Yoga District that’s followed by a vegan brunch, above. (Teddy Wolff/for Express)

The typical yoga class finishes in savasana, or corpse pose. A Sunday morning asana practice at Yoga District ends with students in a very different position: seated at a communal table, digging into a bowl of greens and grains and leaning in for a conversation.

“This reminds me of California,” Maya Graham, 32, said as she sipped a ginger-coconut kombucha at the new weekly Yoga+Brunch at the studio’s downtown location. On the ground floor is District Tea Lodge, where the meal is served. “It’s a great combination — the class was relaxing and calming, and this is energizing and lively.”

That description is exactly what Yoga District founder Jasmine Chehrazi had in mind when she conceived the program. She’s always thought of brunch as a fun tradition, but after a morning of lazing around and downing mimosas, it’s hard not to “feel like the rest of the day is trashed,” she said.

By pushing people out of bed for a class and a trip downstairs to the Tea Lodge for healthful meal, Chehrazi hopes to reinvent the ritual.

“Brunch doesn’t have to be eggs and bacon and maple syrup all over your face,” she said. “The food cleans the inside and yoga cleans the mind.”

Putting the activities together made sense to Amyre Barker, 30, of Mount Rainier, Md., who was enjoying her first Yoga+Brunch. “I’m always hungry, especially after class,” she said.

Instead of having to hunt for something to scarf down, Barker could focus on catching up with instructor Kate Ainsworth, who leads the Sunday morning practice.

Ainsworth makes time before class to connect with students, ask about injuries and check in on how they’re feeling. But those fleeting moments can’t compare to sitting down for a meal, Ainsworth said.

The vibe is even more social when folks show up together, like Graham, a Dupont Circle resident, and her pal Larnies Bowen, who used the outing as an affordable adventure. They both ordered the Buddha Tea Bowl: quinoa, kale, tomatoes and carrots in a broth made of tea, mushrooms and spices.

“I’m not vegan now, but I was, so it’s nice to have plant-based options,” said Bowen, 28, who lives in Brightwood. “I don’t know that there are other places like this.”

District Tea Lodge manager Melanie Hunter says she strives to create the right post-yoga vibe. “It’s a no-alcohol environment, where people can center themselves for the hellacious week,” Hunter said.

Michelle Moon, 24, can drink to that. When she headed out after brunch on a recent Sunday, she was fortified for every errand on her list.

“I have a lot of things I need to get done,” she said. “But I feel calmer now.”

Details

Yoga+Brunch is at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday at 1922 I St. NW. Both the Flow 1-2 Asana Practice and a meal (one entree and one drink) are included in the $22 price. Register under the “workshops” tab at yogadistrict.com.

Other Ways to Go From Mat to Meal

Instructor Mallory Hemerlein wants students of all levels, bodies and backgrounds to feel comfortable at h(OM)e, a donation-based yoga brunch. Held at noon Saturdays at The Dunes (1402 Meridian Place NW; makemsayom.com), the class is a slow-moving, alignment-oriented practice. That’s followed by what Hemerlein describes as “a potluck of sorts.” She offers her special recipe of yogi chai tea, while other students often share cookies, muffins or fresh fruit. “Everyone brings something, even if it’s just their presence,” she says. Don’t have a mat? No problem — Hemerlein has 10 to lend out. But bringing your own tea mug is recommended.

After Curtis Allred, general manager of Ovvio Osteria, takes a yoga class, he wants three bottles of water and a spinach omelet. Folks can order that at his restaurant (2727 Merrilee Drive, Merrifield, Va.; ovvioosteria.com) — along with everything else on the brunch menu — for 10 percent off on Sundays. But first they need to go next door to Village Yoga (villageyogayogi.com) and take the 10 a.m. Level 2/3 Vinyasa flow class. It’s $10 instead of the typical drop-in fee of $18. Village Yoga owner Freddie Margolis hopes the package deal helps build community at the new studio. “If you like where you go, you’ll continue to go,” Margolis says.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Beth Marlowe · December 1, 2013