beer balance blunders
Life is too important to be taken seriously. ~Oscar Wilde
The other night, I taught the Beer Yoga class at This Land Yoga. For anyone who is curious as to what that is, well, it’s just like it sounds. We have beer and practice yoga. Simultaneously, of course. I don’t normally teach this class, so being creative in incorporating the beer drinking into the asana is oddly easy and challenging. Let’s take a step back in the day, quickly, before I get into that…
It was somewhere mid-morning, and I’m sitting at the coffee bar chattering with my ‘office mates.’ One of my closest friends manages Elemental Coffee Shop, provider of said bar, and as she whizzes by, she excitedly announces that she’s coming to my class tonight. I fire back "Fantastic! Any requests? “Core, for sure.” Got it. I knew she wanted to be challenged, and immediately, I knew where to go with this. Half an hour later, I was off to the store to buy straws.
At 5:29, a minute before class time, I told everyone to grab a beer, grab a straw, and come onto their backs. As they are setting into their mats, settling into their breath, I’m explaining to the newbies that this is not intended to be the typical introspective, digging deep, finding serenity within type of class. This class is meant to be lighthearted. Relaxed. Extroverted. The sort of class where you could hold hands or make funny faces at your neighbor. Sure, it may not seem very yogic in the traditional sense, but sometimes it’s necessary in life to put a little bend in traditions. When we finally were up and moving, I began leading them into all the various forms of crow pose I could think of, because what better time to teach an arm balance class with untraditional versions than when we are bending the yoga rules? With beer. We popped the cans open, stuck straws in them, and took swigs while balancing on our arms. It happened. And it was magic!
As we neared the end of class, I could sense that everyone’s shoulders were unquestionably trashed, making the possibility of an impale-my-throat-with-my-straw-faceplant very real, I rerouted the class. “Okay,” I say, “Grab your beer, ditch the straw, and stand with your feet directly underneath your hips. Pick all twelve toes up (thanks to all those who are a good sport about my bad jokes), spread them out, and set them down one by one so that you can see the color of your mat in between each toe. Lift your knee caps up and notice how your quads strengthen. Brace your entire core, front to back, top to bottom. Stand strongly on your right right, and while keeping your right hip squeezing into the midline, lift your left knee into your chest. You have the option to take traditional vrksasana, but if you have half lotus, let’s go there. Once you arrive, adjust the sole of your left foot so that the sole is flattened toward the ceiling. This is where your beer rests!” I exclaim as I demo my impromptu beer balancing brilliance. I’m ecstatic that it’s actually happening, and just as I’m reinforcing their commitment to try with words about how maintaining a drishte and a breath pattern and an activated core will keep them steady, my very nearly full beer can slides off of my foot and its ass end lands squarely on the wooden floor, sending a volcanic spew of suds all over me, all over my space, all over one of my students and his mat. Beer everywhere. And do you know what we did? We all laughed while I cleaned it up… even that poor man who had to spend the rest of his practice bathed in an IPA. But do you know what you should do when you find yourself unsuccessfully dodging a beer sud volcano? You laugh, because life is funny. Because yoga is funny. Because when your balance is shaken and things (your beer, your body, your life) fall to the floor, you recover so, so much more quickly if you don’t let your attitude fall down, too. When you choose not to take yourself so seriously, you are choosing not to put a ceiling on your growth. Not to be defeated. When you choose clemency and tolerance and kindness toward yourself - especially when you blunder - you are choosing a life without limits.