Beer yoga in Des Moines: Tapping into your inner reward system
Beer Yoga is a business started in 2015 by Brooke Larson of Oklahoma City. It combines a rigorous yoga class topped off by a nice, tasty beer as a reward for 50 minutes of exercise. Brian Taylor Carlson/The Register
It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting on a brand-new yoga mat on the floor. Smooth electronic music plays softly in the background in a big, industrial-looking space. I’ve never done yoga before, and I’m stretching and doing poses in a beginner-friendly class. About 50 people are scattered around the room around me, and we are all moving – or attempting to move – in a synchronous fashion. We need to keep up with Brooke Larson, owner and instructor of Beer Yoga.
Tables and chairs have been pulled over to the side of the room to make enough space for us yoga-doers. Our gear is piled on four blue leather booths at the rear of the room. The bar and beer taps are on the other. Giant vats are visible behind plate glass windows that separate the beer tasting room from the brewing equipment.
“Don’t worry if you can’t stretch as far as others in the class,” Larson says. “Just do as much as your body can do.” I'm trying not to get caught looking at the beer menu on the wall.
This isn’t a typical yoga class. We all have one thing on our minds to get us through repeated chaturangas (similar to a push-up) into upward-facing dog pose: beer. But not just any beer. This class is taking place at Confluence Brewing Company at 1235 Thomas Beck Rd. in Des Moines. And the beer is brewed right in the building.
It's part of a slow but growing list of available options of yoga paired with beer in Des Moines. It’s unclear where or when the idea of combining beer and yoga began, but it's rumored to have started at the Burning Man festival in Nevada over four years ago. In Germany and Australia, yoga classes are taught while drinking beer. Participants are rumored to achieve a spiritual connection with their beer during the class.
But for Larson’s class, good things come to those who wait. And she’s had this idea for several years. “I took a silly picture of myself sipping beer and doing yoga in February of 2013,” said Larson. “I posted it to my private Facebook page, and my friends thought it was just a hoot. I thought, ‘This is a funny idea.’ So, I looked up Instagram about it and there was nothing, so I started an Instagram page called Beer Yoga.”
Larson started her business officially in July, 2015 in her hometown of Oklahoma City. “I started teaching classes at local breweries. And then I was contacted by some breweries in Texas. So, I started traveling to breweries and now I am in eight states.”
This was Larson's first time teaching a class in Des Moines in three years. But more beer and yoga events are coming up around Des Moines at Peace Tree Brewing Co., Fox Brewing and Exile Brewing Company. Most often, you can find a beer yoga class by going to the brewery's website or watch its Facebook page for announcements.
After 50 minutes of stretching, posing, meditating, breathing and relaxing exercises, we all congregate at the bar for a beer. “The beer is like the icing on the cake,” said Jenn Chess of Des Moines. “It’s guiltless. We earned it. I used my carbs, so I’m going to replenish my carbs.”
Larson sticks to only local breweries. And that brings new people into yoga, including me. Now she does classes in eight states and has to adhere to states’ varying liquor laws. “In Utah, I teach a class for a certain amount and then offer a free beer sample at the end instead of including a full beer,” Larson said. Most of the time, the price of admission ($21.49) includes a full pint. Tickets for her classes can be purchased through Eventbrite.
The idea of combining beer and yoga is catching on. And other beer yoga companies are popping up all over the country, including Pints & Poses and Hoppy Yoga. Fun wordplay on yoga poses combining beer and yoga are coming into being, like “beerasana.” Larson hopes to offer more classes in the future for different competence levels.
That all sounds great, but for now, I’m ready to dig into this rich, cocoa-licious Confluence 2016 Anniversary Porter.
It’s a beautiful thing.