While I wish that I could consistently be on a plane en route to countries filled with sidewalk cafes, getting lost down small alleyways and finding historic treasures, sometimes I find a little local piece of heaven too.
I have been a yogi since college, and this past weekend was sheer yoga bliss. Seeking inner peace and a solid workout, I attended one of the most atmospheric breweries—dim white lights with a gorgeous twisting tree logo–for morning yoga. As I unrolled my Manduka on the concrete floor, a gorgeous industrial-beamed ceiling greeted me. Like a Lightroom filter, silver and muted tones of blues and oranges ensconced my mat and soothed my yoga soul. My love of beer may have helped my ambivalence, too.
Unlike other classes, I hit the participant jackpot on this particular Saturday. I’m not going to lie. I love going to yoga and just chilling on my mat before class—and I love when others do too. I typically watch as poser…I mean yogis, cough, cough…stretch and twist, taking their claimed spot on the floor as well as their abilities very seriously. Very. Seriously. Was a split really necessary before class starts, in front of everyone? Let me just start doing 40 pushups too. Might as well jog in place while we are at it. In beautifully matched, designer yoga outfits—p.s. It’s 10 AM on a Saturday, my hair is in a mess of a ponytail, but hey, I put on deodorant—these type of attendees glance over and make unsolicited suggestions about others’ mise en place like everyone else is a newbie or just in their way. I picture them cracking out yoga poses everywhere they go: the grocery store, their living room, and at a cocktail party–in celebration of their otherworldliness that we must all clearly want to see and idolize. This isn’t a fancy NYC studio: It’s Florida. On a slightly dirty concrete floor. Surrounded by beer kegs and distribution boxes. It’s a $12 drop-in class with beer. Beer!! Not Kombucha—which my auto-correct, she knows me so well, tried to change into ‘Sambuca.’ I just smile. The words ‘chill’ and ‘self’ blink in my eyes, which I soon close because I’m losing my inner serenity. Why didn’t I just stay at home with my cats and my girl Adriene Mishler?!
Thankfully, this is not one of those pretentiously obnoxious days. The yogis around me spread out, sitting patiently and happily. Sleep still in our eyes, we snuggle in fleeces and hug ourselves. These are my people. The mood has been unintentionally set, and in my head, Om/Aum-style I chant ‘thank god.’ There are no impressions to be made except in the creases of yoga mats. Bring on the Zen, and after, my beer.
As the instructor enters and silence descends, the emanating bubbling from the brew kettles beguile me into a meditative state. Our gentle leader asks that we focus on a mantra or affirmation. “Beer, beer, beer!” Opps. I mean, “I can do anything I want; I can succeed. This year is for me.” Gurgle, gurgle, bubble, bubble….”Beer, beer, beer.” Hey, no one is perfect. As our yogi guide switches on light music, and although you would think Ed Sheeran’s Perfect might make me flinch, I’m totally down–and not just in a dog. We start with a lengthy child’s pose (already a win for the session) and the reverberations of simmering beer fuse with my daydreams of dancing barefoot under the stars. I am completely zoned out and ready to move.
Throughout the class, I remain in a cosmic trance of beerful bliss. I appreciate instructors who only circulate to reach everyone with their voices or to help if eyes and legs are asking for it. Yoga is like my personal diary, and while I may share pieces among close friends, hands off. My poses are not perfect, and quite frankly that’s not my goal. Ten years later, I still cannot touch my toes without a slight bend in my knees and downward dog is just starting to feel like a resting pose instead of a cruel punishment. My pigeon still wobbles, my chair is crooked, my boat is clearly about to sink, and my dolphin is more like a faux break-dancer attempting a snake. Still, I persevere, and I love every second. Yoga, unlike the elliptical, is not unrequited love.
As class ends, we celebrate with beer mimosas, helping me to maintain my inner peace for the ride home.