Is Beer Yoga Really Good for You?

Over the course of the last few years, yoga has moved from a fringe exercise to a mainstream fitness activity that millions participate in. Part meditation and part workout, this fitness phenomenon has grown a major cult following, which can partially be traced to the rise of unique yoga classes that are currently being offered. Yogis can now go to classes involving marijuana, goats, cats, dogs and, even beer. What began as a mere gimmick has evolved into a major part of yoga around the world.

Beer Yoga was first officially coined in 2015 by two German yoga practitioners who aimed to create a style of yoga that appealed to a larger group of people. The founders, Emily and Jhula, felt that by combining two timeworn types of relaxation, yogis could reach their highest level of consciousness. Beer yoga classes can come in a few different forms. Generally, a beer yoga class involves consuming 1-2 beers during the one hour session. Other sessions will only involve a beer afterwards, which is already the norm for many yogis these days. For some, it is easy to see the benefits of beer yoga. Enjoying a chilled, hoppy beverage of your choice while getting a solid workout is an easy sell for yoga and beer lovers alike. For those with a busy schedule (let’s face it, most people these days), beer yoga is a great way to combine multiple activities at once. Beer yoga is very much a social activity and allows participants to catch up with friends as well as get in a quick workout. This is one of the major draws for those who choose to participate. Another major positive of beer yoga is that it, like other non traditional yoga classes, tends to bring people to the mat that would not typically practice.

Despite its massive growth in popularity, there is still a significant controversy hanging over beer yoga. Beer yoga sells itself as a fun, unique and healthy way to practice, but in reality, that is a bit misleading. In general, yoga is not a high-calorie burning activity and when combined with 1-2 beers (most craft beers are around 450 calories), most of the benefits derived from a typical yoga session are completely negated.

Other critics feel that beer yoga can be unsafe. Though beer yoga is typically a lower intensity session, it still requires adequate hydration. Consuming beer can cause participants to become dehydrated, which can be intensified in a hot crowded yoga studio. Many yoga poses are very strenuous and require the participants to be in the right physical and mental state for best participation. Dehydration and a loss of balance can easily cause even master yogi to appear new to the practice, practicing the poses incorrectly and potentially causing injury.

For yoga purists, beer yoga is an abomination. Yoga is meant to be practiced on an empty stomach, not one with a few pints sloshing around. Though beer and yoga are both considered modes of relaxation, yoga is meant to raise consciousness, whereas beer lowers it. For yoga to be practiced in its most pure and effective form, participants must be in the right physical and mental state.

Despite the downsides, beer yoga is a great tool to expose newcomers to the activity. Yoga has tremendous benefits for both physical and mental well being. Regular yoga practice significantly improves flexibility, which can help prevent minor injuries and strains, as well as improve posture and overall health. Due to the strenuous nature of many of the poses, yoga is a great way to tone muscle. As a form of meditation, a yoga class can offer a mental reprieve from the ever growing stresses of daily life. Yoga offers participants numerous health benefits, but is also a solution for those with medical issues. According to researchers, yoga is commonly recommended for those suffering from sciatica, a fairly common medical condition that causes pain from the lower back down through the legs. If practiced correctly, yoga is an excellent form of preventative care and rehabilitation.

Beer yoga may be trendy, and rightfully so as it combines two activities that are fun, relaxing and positively contribute to personal wellness, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. Beer yoga is a great way to get into the practice. The classes tend to be more social and go at a slower, more relaxed pace, giving beginners a great chance to become familiar with the different types of poses. It’s the perfect place to drag a friend, co-worker or family member who is opposed to the idea of yoga for one reason or another, thanks to the enticing idea of downing a cold one while getting a little exercise. Beyond that however, beer yoga is more of a gimmick than physical activity. It causes unsafe and unhealthy practice of yoga, which could easily lead to injury. If you’re the type of person who is looking for a non-traditional approach to yoga, check out goat yoga, another trending style of yoga. Though the goats can be a distraction, goat yoga offers a quirky, fun option with none of the negatives of beer yoga.