Bring a mat, an open mind and your drinking buddy.
Erin Sonn of Eat.Yoga.Drink. views her all-levels yoga classes, which are largely held in nontraditional spaces like local sports bars and breweries, as opportunities to eliminate the intimidation she believes many traditional studios unwittingly bring to the table.
“A lot of people who haven’t yet started a yoga practice feel like maybe their body doesn’t look like the typical yoga practitioner, or it’s expensive, or maybe they just don’t know that they’re going to be supported and welcomed in a way that will make the practice inviting to them,” Sonn says.
The fear that prevents so many would-be students from coming to know yoga’s physical and mental benefits is mitigated at Eat.Yoga.Drink. classes. The lure of drinks and a casual atmosphere help create what Sonn calls “gateway yoga classes”—playful iterations of yoga that are both accessible and appealing to a much wider audience.
Up until now, Sonn’s sessions have consisted of an hourlong vinyasa flow followed by a drink at the bar, but after her students repeatedly tagged her in a Facebook video of a yoga class that incorporated beer-drinking into the practice itself, Sonn decided to change things up.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say, ‘I want to bring my boyfriend or my fiancé or my husband. Maybe if you give them a drink while we practice, they’ll come.’ So I thought, let’s do it; let’s put it out there and see how the experience goes,” Sonn says.
The ticket for Sonn’s 21-plus Mindful Yoga with Drinks class, which will take place Aug. 1 from 7-9 p.m. at Crystal City Sports Pub, will include two alcoholic or nonalcoholic drinks, one of which will be incorporated into the yoga sequences taught during the class.
“This particular class is going to be a bit lighter on the asana—the physical practice—and heavier on the mental practice because the whole time, you’ll be holding a drink,” Sonn says. “It will be very much a cultivation of mindful awareness. How often when we’re in a bar do we take the time to notice the aromas and textures and complexity of what we’re drinking?”
Sonn’s classes also afford practitioners the unique opportunity to debrief how they feel the session went and bond with fellow yogis at the bar afterward. As opposed to studio environments that discourage disruptive chatter, Sonn says she is overjoyed when students strike up conversations.
“That sense of community is such an integral part of my events,” she says. “And it makes me so happy.”