When I first read about Drunk Yoga, a 45-minute beginner Vinyasa class hosted by yoga instructor Eli Walker, I figured it would be easy on the body and light on the alcohol. After all, drinking while working out isn't an idea most fitness professionals would recommend—alcohol is a diuretic and can lead to dehydration and cramping. So it's not like I thought we'd be taking shots in chair pose. (Related: Is Blacklight Yoga the New Rave Party?)
Walker's "vino"-yasa is hosted on Saturdays at noon at a Lower East Side bar in NYC (where I definitely used to drink too many Red Bull Vodkas as an early 20-something ). I showed up at the bar this past Saturday to find nine other people already sipping prosecco, white wine, and rosé from bottles sweating in an ice bucket on the wood-paneled bar. I assumed this was the wine portion of the event—we'd sip and mingle, then get down to yoga business. (For $30, you get a spot in class and access to the open bar.)
That was not the case. After we set up, Walker instructed everyone to bring their drinks to the mat with them. "Drunk yoga is an idea I came up with when I was drunk," she told us as we settled in. (Of course!) "It's meant to be an experience where you can be silly and have fun. You don't need to be perfect on your mat to get something out of drunk yoga."
It's a nice sentiment in an Instagram-heavy yoga world, where many instructors seem to be rail-thin and improbably flexible. I have a lot of friends who would love to get into yoga, but they're too intimidated to try it out in classes with yogis who look like they were born to do standing splits. Walker has just a few rules for her very-beginner-friendly class: Drink wine (no hard liquor here, she's not trying to get you plastered by pigeon pose); if you fall out of a pose, you need to take three sips of your drink (the class is more about having fun than perfecting poses); and if you spill on someone's mat, you need to compliment them. It's all meant to make the class feel even more welcoming and sociable to yoga newbies.
Drunk yoga started, like most yoga classes, with a few slow, easy sun salutations. Every time we made our way back to the floor, whether to downward dog or during a Vinyasa, we sipped from our wine cups (Walker thoughtfully brought straws, to help us maintain our alignment while drinking). Our cups were worked in throughout class: We did chair pose and tree pose lifting them to the ceiling, we did a boat pose variation where we threaded them through our legs, and we did lots of detoxifying twists while lifting glass to mouth—the phrase "detox to retox" has never felt so apt.
I practice yoga about once a week, so I felt confident in the poses we did. But by the time we were halfway through the class, I noticed my tree pose wasn't quite as stable as usual. That was part of the fun, though. The tipsier we (and our poses) were, the more laughter, chatter, and bonding there seemed to be. (And surprisingly, the benefits of the wine yoga trend go beyond just social.)
I left Drunk Yoga feeling pleasantly loose—thanks in part to the easy, restorative poses but mostly due to the alcohol. Walker's final rule for Drunk Yoga is that "you have to have fun and be happy by the time you leave." It's pretty hard not to have fun when you're refilling your wine glass while in warrior III, so, cheers to that.
The word yoga, at its root, means "to join" or "to unite." What unites strangers better than a few glasses of wine during a silly, shared experience? Drunk yoga isn't the class you go to if you're trying to nail a handstand or practice a serious flow. But if you think your yoga bliss comes with a glass of rosé in hand, then you've found your nirvana.
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