Get Fit: Beer Yoga
Editorial Assistant Lillian Stone ohm-ed her way through restorative poses and a refreshing pint at White River Brewing Company’s beer yoga.
Written by Lillian Stone | Photos by Brandon Alms
White River Yoga (WROGA)
505 W. Commercial St., Springfield, 417-869-1366, whiteriverbrewingco.com
Type of Activity: A beginner-friendly yoga class with bursts of intensity, a healing restorative finish and the opportunity to enjoy a pint after class.
Price: $10 includes one hour-long yoga class and a pint of White River beer.
Hours: WROGA occurs on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m.
Don't Forget: A yoga mat, water and your trendiest pair of stretchy pants
I like to keep my chakras in check. A casual yogini since high school, I turn to my mat when my naturally uncooperative hamstrings need some TLC. Speaking of TLC: I also feel strongly about the healing powers of a good local brew. The creators of beer yoga—a yoga class concluded with a hoppy delight—share my passions. When I heard about beer yoga, I was pleased that the recreation gods had finally answered my prayers. When 417-land’s own White River Brewing Company began offering monthly beer yoga, I pitched the story to my editor and was on my merry way.
White River’s WROGA class draws a crowd of health nuts and beer lovers alike.
White River Brewing Company is the brainchild of John “Buz” Hosfield and Dave Lamb, who joined forces to create the brewery. They’ve been bringing traditional European-style beers to 417-land since shipping out their first kegs in 2013. The brewery is housed at the west end of Commercial Street’s bustling stretch and fits right in with the friendly C-Street social scene. White River’s version of beer yoga—known as WROGA—is housed in the brewery’s event center, an airy space that allows the evening sun to shine on visiting yogis and yoginis. The room is pretty massive, but it fills up quickly with WROGA-loving locals.
I arrived a few minutes early for the class to get my stretch on. The first thing I noticed? The friendly feel of the chatty WROGA crowd. If we’re being honest, some yoga studios can give off an intimidating, eerily silent vibe—like, “Hey, come within 3 feet of my Lululemon and I’ll kick your asana.” The WROGA-goers were clearly here to have a good time while getting a little bendy.
Soothing tunes were our cue that it was time to settle. Instructor Grace Rybarczyk began the class with a quick announcement: Today’s class would be slightly more challenging than past WROGA sessions. The class, however, was open to all levels of practice—I noticed a few very young yogis in the room—so I took a breath. Rybarczyk, who teaches private classes and weekly group sessions at Urban Roots Farm, led the class, taking us through a series of seated and standing poses over the course of an hour. Rybarczyk’s class began with a focus on the core—a region of my bod that I’ve admittedly been neglecting. A few belly-burning poses later and my ponytail was already drooping. The beer element had me expecting a more easygoing class, but WROGA was no joke. We quickly moved on to standing poses and a flow that took us through the majority of the class. The standard vinyasa flow is the controlled movement between a series of poses with the intention of coming back to your breath. No flailing allowed. It’s enough to get anyone sweating—and I had been out of the yoga game for about a month. Between flows, there was a notable focus on leg and balance work. We went between several rounds of classic warrior poses and lunges, which was both heaven and hell on my overworked legs. Throughout the session, Rybarczyk maintained a steady pace to match the groovy background music. She also circulated through the class, making adjustments to off-kilter poses. As the class progressed, I heard a symphony of chuckles. We were all feeling the burn.
We concluded the class with a much-needed savasana, or corpse pose. If you have never had a proper savasana, you’re missing out. The technique varies, but the average student stays flat on their back, eyes closed, taking up as much space as possible on their mat. It’s the perfect conclusion to an imperfect practice: giving yourself permission to rest and really reap the benefits of some serious bending.
Lillian sips a pint of Table Rock Red Ale after a challenging yoga class.
After we drifted back to full consciousness and sat up, class concluded with a hearty “namaste” and it was off to the tasting room. My most recent practice has involved heated Bikram yoga—a rigorous 80-minute practice in a balmy room—so I’m accustomed to guzzling fluids after a yoga class. Water, that is. Rewarding myself for a challenging class with a pint of craft beer was another story. I chose my go-to White River brew: the Table Rock Red Ale. Concluding the health-conscious practice with a hearty beer seemed to make a statement of self-love. To be clear, White River does not deal in light beers. For this reason, seeing a row of sweaty, sports bra–clad women slurping suds was a liberating thing. Yes, an hour of yoga is good for your physical health. But time spent alongside like-minded yogis and beer lovers can work wonders for your mental health. This was a common theme throughout the WROGA experience: balance. In a WROGA class, it’s okay to laugh if you fall out of a pose. It’s okay to come to class looking like a mess after a hard day. It’s understood that your yoga practice should make you feel happy, not punished. A mudra in one hand and a beer in the other? That may be the very definition of balance.
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