He asks as he sits at the bar sipping on his Skyhook Pale Ale.
I’m in the middle of changing out the garbage and recycling bins, trying to finish my closing chores at the Brewery so I can go home. Sam is fast becoming one of my favorite patrons at Figurehead Brewing company. He first came in after moving to the neighborhood, and he’s been in nearly every day since. He has a few beers and he makes conversation with not just whoever is behind the bar, but everyone who comes in. He’s witty, friendly, and has a pleasantly dry sense of humor making him affable to all he greets and engrosses in small chat. Or maybe thats just the kindred spirit in me. People like Sam are what make bartending a fun job. The craft brewing industry seems to draw in curious people and beer lovers alike, seeking to heighten their senses, bringing people together in camaraderie. So does “Sip N’ Stretch” , the Yoga and Beer tasting event I host at the Brewery, and the reason for Sam’s initial question that inspired this blog.
I finish tying off the garbage bag and look up at him. ” Thats a good question.” I say.
Sam had earlier mentioned never having done Yoga before and inquired about my Yoga and Beer class. I like it when unassuming and or *skeptical* people ask me questions like this, because it makes me think about how to give an understandable answer to those new to the whole idea of Yoga; the moment one realizes its not just guided stretching. It also demands that I stay connected to the meaning of Yoga myself. In a society and culture where Yoga has become a multi million dollar industry and fitness trend, where students tell me they want to do headstands and arm balances or put their foot on their head. Where I play loud house and hip hop music in most of my classes, where selling class packages to students and getting my next paycheck is part of my livelihood. Where as soon as those yoga students ( and many instructors) walk out of the studio door they immediately look at their smartphones to see what they missed in the last hour plus as they return to the grind of their busy lives. Its what we do on our mats for that hour plus, behind the closed doors of the yoga studio that drives it all home. Yoga gets us away from all of that other fluff, and more in tune with ourselves. It teaches us that with practice and discipline of moving through challenging postures or sitting in stillness that we can find peaceful and empowering tools for dealing with life. Thats the point. Not allowing all the of noise and the incessant chatter of this crazy fucking world consume us to the core. Not allowing the myriad distractions society has built around us to eat us from the inside out.
Yoga is about uniting and ideally finding balance in all parts of your self, its about awareness. Its about getting to know yourself better and being honest with yourself. Its about observing stillness and concurring the anxiety that can come with that, quieting the mind, and calming the nerves. Its feeling your breath and your heartbeat, as you move your body in and out of asana ( postures) designed to open and strengthen the entire body so when you do sit you will be more at ease. Yoga is a practice of discipline and a study of philosophies that asks us to question the nature of our existence and our everyday actions as human beings in this universe. It teaches us to treat ourselves, others, and the world at large with a mutual respect that one only gets when we give ourselves permission to “wake up” , to open our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our minds to whats not only within us but around us, and how to address it all. Its not an easy job, but as with anything with practice we learn and we grow.
I tell this all to Sam more or less as he finishes his beer. He responds with ” Okay, so Sunday August 6 huh?” Thats the date of my next Yoga and beer class. I smile at him realizing I just planted a seed. ” Well I can’t make any promises but I’m definitely intrigued.” He says before getting up to leave. “Yoga and beer” he chuckles. “Brilliant.”
Whatever gets you to your mat is my philosophy these days. Whether its the drive to sweat and stretch to the back beat of energizing, freeing music, becoming more spiritually evolved and mindful through meditation, or the controversiality of having a beer after your efforts. Yoga brings about a self awareness that teaches us how to be better at not only who we are, but better in our actions and recognition of unhealthy habits, which in due time will inevitably start to fade away into an abyss of undesireability.
“Sip N’ Stretch” is held the first Sunday of each month at Figurehead Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington and hosted by me. Namaste and have a beer.