Here are a few types of yoga classes you can find around Southwest Florida:
Goat yoga: Yoga in a barnyard while baby goats crawl all over you. Cat yoga: Yoga at a Humane Society or animal rescue center—much like goat yoga, only the animals are smaller, know how to use a litter box, and are completely aloof to your bending and stretching. Dog yoga: Also known as “doga” (may involve dog breath). Hot yoga: No animals involved, though the room smells somewhat barnyard-like as humans sweat in a room kept at around 104 degrees. Nude yoga: Um, self-explanatory (bring your own yoga mat—please).
For moi, any kind of contorting, twisting, flexing and inverting my body into shapes and poses that don’t involve lying on my sofa while eating crackers and binge-watching The Handmaid’s Tale sounds like an adventure. So, I’m pretty sure I don’t need goats, cats, dogs, heat or nudity to add to the peril.
And yet—brave adventuress that I am—I tried. Afternoon rains caused Barnyard Yoga with goats in Lehigh Acres to get canceled a few times in a row (I get it—I have no desire to add lightning to my yoga or to my baby goats). Alas, cat yoga and dog yoga happen around Southwest Florida sporadically, and classes were hard to find. I attempted to get my 23-year-old cat, LaLai, to do some yoga with me on our living room floor, but she only yawned in boredom, snarled sarcastically and curled up in the corner for her 37th nap of the day (and it was only noon).
Hot yoga was out of the question. I’m in the throes of menopause, reader—my entire existence these days is hot yoga. Whether it’s putting away the groceries or folding my laundry—it’s all hot yoga.
And don’t get me started on nude yoga. Have you ever seen someone doing a downward dog pose? Even for an adventure, would you really subject me to observing that Asana posture from behind? I’m a columnist, not a gastroenterologist. Naked people doing yoga does not sound very Zen to me at all. Namaste, and to each his or her own, but no—just no.
I was reaching the end of my patience Chakra when my good friend Sadie texted me to ask if I was up for “Yoga & Brews” at Scotty’s Bierworks in Cape Coral on a Sunday afternoon at 1. Now, this was something I could wrap my Vinyasa around. Frankly, I’m more of a wine, Champagne and martini girl than a beer fan, but hey. I was willing to try anything cold and frothy while attempting a core-shaking plank pose.
We grabbed our friend Thomas, a local actor who’s dedicated to getting into fighting shape for an upcoming role, and we headed to Scotty’s (which, by the way, is super easy to get to just off Pondella Road).
Scotty’s is a brewery as well as a bar—it was spacious and casual with picnic tables, popcorn and a resident crooked-tailed gray kitty named “Brewmaster” (although he wasn’t there for yoga—in fact, there were a few signs scattered throughout the bar that said “Please Do Not Pick Up Cat”—and I wasn’t about to try).
The staff were super-friendly and accommodating—they put out a giant thermos of cold water, and our $15 fee for an hour of yoga got us a complimentary brew of our choice. Sadie and I each chose a “beermosa,” which is exactly what you think it is: beer mixed with orange juice—although Scotty’s adds a splash of prosecco. It wasn’t bad—nice and cold, and it tasted like Sunday.
When I checked in on Facebook, my friend Karen, a food writer, wrote that she and her husband, Jim, a wine writer, live just down the street. They grabbed their yoga mats and joined us. There was also a young mother with her 5-year-old daughter, a (very) pregnant lady (her husband and their toddler waited for her in the bar), as well as a middle-aged woman who, judging from her flexible moves, was clearly not a beginner. It was Scotty’s inaugural Yoga & Brews, and it was a pretty impressive showing.
Our instructor, Mandi Carozza, was a delight. She encouraged everyone to grab a cold one, and instead of the usual mantra about letting go of your stress and being in the moment (blah, blah, blah), Mandi posed the question, “Remember your very first cold, delicious beer? Maybe you were at the beach with friends—or out having fun with a great group of folks. Go back to how relaxed it made you feel, how wonderful it tasted…”
Clearly, this wasn’t going to be your typical yoga class.
Between poses (many were surprisingly challenging), Mandi frequently reminded us not only to breathe, but to take a sip of our beers if that’s what our bodies craved. Her class was never boring, and she encouraged us to “do what feels right for you.” So there was no pressure, but I did find myself working up a good sweat to keep up with her. You could have bounced a quarter off Mandi’s abs, so if that’s what beer and yoga could do for me—I was all in. Fortunately, my beermosa kept me well-hydrated.
Mandi played the usual relaxing yoga-type background music (the same new-agey sounds that you hear when getting a facial or a massage), but the bar and the area where we were sweating, finding our Zen and drinking beer were separated by a glass wall and a glass door. So, the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman and Lynard Skynard’s Sweet Home Alabama kept bleeding in. I didn’t mind though—I prefer rock and roll with my Vinyasa flow.
Meanwhile, the bar was filled with a few dudes day-drinking on a Sunday, but whenever I got a glance at them, they seemed pretty mesmerized. When we twisted to the side in an inverted warrior pose, I could hear one guy at the bar with a southern accent say, “Damn, y’all, that one looks hard. I’d probably fall on my face and dislocate a shoulder!”
Luckily, no shoulders were dislocated that Sunday afternoon (though I was a little sore the next day—in a good way), and we enjoyed hanging out afterward for a post-yoga beer and some popcorn.
Someday, I may experience goat yoga, cat yoga and dog yoga (don’t hold your breath for hot yoga or naked yoga, though). But meanwhile, I couldn’t be happier with beer yoga—and the fact that they also serve wine is icing on my yoga mat. Truly, this kind of yoga totally speaks to my heart center. Namaste—and cheers!
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901 E. Industrial Circle, Cape Coral, Florida
Yoga & Brews is every other Sunday at 1 p.m., and $15 includes yoga class and one beer or glass of wine. Call for details: 239-888-5482