“You can fart in there,” says Tammy Portnoy, heading into BeerYoga at Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria. That’s what happens in breweries, says Portnoy, Port City’s Beer Admiral of marketing and events. “If you consume enough CO2 …”
Yoga and passing gas have a twisted relationship. The more the body twists, the more it just may release. And yet, yoga studios often attract a crop of chic, toned ladies to hushed, Zen-like spaces — rarefied atmospheres that can intimidate potential participants, flatulent or not.
Beer and, by extension, breweries tend to have a democratizing effect. It’s a drink that defies pretense, often slurped from the bottle and linked to such laid-back leisure activities as watching sports, grilling out and burping the alphabet.
Whether it’s the silliness of stretching among belching barrels of brew, or the popularity of craft beer and social culture of microbreweries, or the ubiquitousness of yoga, practicing it in a brewhouse is a thing, drawing yogis and those who have never stepped foot on a yoga mat to let their bodies and drinks flow.
Port City’s BeerYoga ($15 for yoga and a pint) has become so popular that its twice-monthly classes sell out within a day. Last month, Detox to Retox, a monthly summer series of yoga, tastings and discounts ($25, eventbrite.com) launched at D.C.’s Hellbender Brewing Company. And Monday, Capitol City Brewing Company hosted its first Asana & Ale in Shirlington. (The $15 event moves to its downtown site next; facebook.com/CapCityBrew.)
“I really see D.C. as a place where maybe the two most sought after post-work activities are working out in some form or another and attending happy hours with your friends or co-workers,” says Amy Rizzotto, a yoga instructor/nutrition coach who, in leading Detox to Retox, aims to offer the balance of both.
Rizzotto says her “guy’s guy” boyfriend inspired the class.
“He was like, ‘Well, if you want to get the likes of people like me involved, this is something that you could try,’ ” she says.
While the concept has taken off in many parts of the country, Rizzotto felt D.C.’s beer-yoga market wasn’t fully tapped: “So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and just thought it would be a lot of fun, and it really was. … People felt free to take it lightly, which I think is such a rarity with yoga in D.C. and in studios.”
At Port City’s BeerYoga, participants seemed to revel in the playfulness of the practice. And instructor Melody Abella kept the mood focused on fun.
“If you have no clue what’s going on, it’s OK,” Abella said, flipping into a back bend.
That approachability is part of what keeps Kevin McGovern, 28, a government contractor in Alexandria, coming back.
“I don’t know what these poses are called or things like that,” says McGovern, who had never attended an organized fitness class before joining Port City’s first BeerYoga last fall. (The beer helped lure him there, according to his fiancee, who said he’s registered the couple for every class since.)
“I actually felt like relaxed by the time I left,” he says, “like I earn the beer after.”
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