For many, the words “namaste” and “cheers” may not seem synonymous, but that hasn’t stopped instructors of YogaDurango from marrying the two wellness activities of simple yoga and beer drinking. Only at Ska Brewing Co. does “happy hour” have a whole new meaning.
Offered Mondays at 5:30 p.m. every week, YogaDurango instructor Brady Wilson leads a crowd of eager students through a simple and social yoga experience. Those who last the hour-long bendy sesh receive a free token for a pint at the main bar.
For Wilson, there is a connection between namaste and cheers, although he contends the Spanish word “salute” is more accurate. He said the combination of the atmosphere of Ska and the space itself is the reason why it’s the only place in Durango fit for yoga and beer.
“I think a couple of yoga teachers took this idea and approached some of the other breweries, but there wasn’t necessarily the space or the vibe or something to make it right,” Wilson said, adding that the staff at Ska is an integral piece to making “Namaska” happen.
“The way that it is here, the team here, the space and everything is just really conducive of the whole thing.”
Wilson admitted the yoga and brewski combo wasn’t his idea. He gave credit for bringing yoga to Ska to fellow YogaDurango instructor Heather Hooten, who taught the class for about two years. Ska’s Marketing Maven Kristen Muraro teamed up with Hooten to bring a fun activity to the brewery on the typically slow Monday nights.
“I still say we were the first brewery ever to do it. Within a couple years they’ve started to pop up around the country,” Muraro said, adding popularity for happy hour yoga took off since its inception in 2011.
Wilson sees yoga and beer lovers alike weekly, and some Monday nights are better than others, and bring in 23 students. Spilling into the hallway and sprawling every which way, Wilson said the nontraditional social aspect of the class is what brings people back every week.
“Just the fact that there is a social context greater than putting on your shoes together and leaving the room, there is an opportunity for people to hang out after class, to have conversation and get to know each other,” he added.
“I bring a sense of lightness and humor to the class that you won’t find in a regular yoga studio. Lighthearted and humorous. Sometimes I feel like more of a comedian than a yoga teacher.”
Some purists may “poo poo the movement,” as Wilson put it, but if alcohol is the reasoning to get people to try yoga, he’s all for it.
“The way that I see it is yoga is so variable, and so diverse at this point that it isn’t up to us to create it as we want it to be,” he said. “I mean, here it’s accessing a whole other demographic that might not have otherwise be doing yoga. So in that sense, it’s inviting people, new students to experience this other possibility.”
As for the most refreshing part of the experience – the drinking beer bit – Wilson strongly suggests people wait for after the yoga sesh. He cites balance as the key to any yoga practice.
Even the alignment-based intermediate to beginner yoga style he offers is best done sober.
“The beer is the balance after the yoga practice, like detox-retox,” he chuckled. “Not only do you get to breathe deeply, but you also get to experience the olfactory pleasure of hops, malt and barley while connecting to your spiritual self.”
So the question is, what beer is best paired with yoga? Both Wilson and Muraro came to a consensus on the Euphoria Pale Ale, available during autumn and winter.
“It’s seasonal here, too, ya know? So in the summer it would be the Mexi Logger, and in the winter it would be the Euphoria Pale Ale and in the fall. Just don’t fall over,” Wilson laughed.
Muraro agreed, “In the winter time, I always love our Euphoria Pale Ale after it. It’s not too heavy of a beer, and it’s just a lot of good flavors.”