Beer yoga – exercise with a tinge of fun

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Yoga coach Anna Bachmann (left) and practitioner Sreylin Van Basar during a session. Hong Menea

There are at least 11 types of yoga styles, with the most popular being Vinyasa yoga, Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, Yin yoga and Restorative yoga.

Traditionalists who are passionate about this Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, which includes breath control, meditation and the adoption of specific postures that are widely practised for health and relaxation will be shocked to learn of a new-age addition – Beer yoga.

Sreyline Vann Bacha, 25, who practices this form of yoga says: “Beer yoga offers fun rather than sport because it makes us fresh and releases tension. I get bored within 20 minutes of starting traditional yoga sessions.

“But when I practice yoga and sip beer, I tend to sweat more and it makes the session with friends far more fun,” she says.

Beer yoga is claimed to be one of several hybrid yogas. It combines the practice of asanas yoga postures with other forms of recreational activities or pets, such as dogs.

It is unclear how Beer yoga was started, but the Times of India and Hindustan Times reported that it originated from the Burning Man Festival in the US’ Nevada desert sometime in 2013.

Then a company called Beer Yoga was founded in Oklahoma City, US, in 2015, followed by Bier Yoga in Germany the same year. Now the practice of Beer yoga is spreading from Europe to Australia and Asia.

Practising beer yoga is an excuse to grab a beer, learn yoga and have fun. Beer yoga movements are not much different from traditional yoga. They are yoga movements that incorporate a glass of beer.

TwoBirds Craft Beer general manager Connor Cheney Kirsch, who organises the event, says: “For me, Beer yoga is a little different from traditional yoga.

“Traditional yoga should be considered a sport, while Beer yoga is more of a leisure after-work activity,” he says.

Kirsch says his idea is to cheer up people who feel tired at work by organising a Beer yoga session on Tuesdays, as it is considered the most boring day of the week.

Beer yoga sessions are held after working hours for those who seek fun with a little bit of sweat.

Participants are encouraged to book their space mats since the numbers are limited to fewer than 12 mats per session.

“Fact is, for most people, Tuesdays are not fun. It’s the second day of the week and a long way away from the next weekend,” says Kirsch.

The co-founder of TwoBirds Craft Beer says the goal is not to get drunk or force participants to withstand a hard workout.

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Sreylin Van Basar enjoying her yoga workout and a beer after work. Hong Menea

The goal, he claims, is to take the mind off presentations, deadlines and decisions of the following days and to have some fun responsibly.

“To make things a little more bearable, we offer the more hard-working people a one-hour escape from their busy week,” Kirsch says.

Every Tuesday, tables and chairs are put aside to make space for yoga mats.

Before grabbing a glass of beer and heading for the mat, Basar sprays her hands with alcohol sanitiser at the entrance of TwoBirds Craft Beer, located at the Factory, in Phnom Penh.

She tells The Post: “I hadn’t practised yoga previously and when my friend told me about beer yoga, I said, ‘why don’t we try it?’

“Until now, I have just practised yoga three times in my life – once at a traditional yoga class and twice during beer yoga.”

Yoga coach Anna is an experienced practitioner and teacher of traditional yoga and keen to incorporate beer in her classes.

“This class is something you can take part in with friends. Beer gives it an element of fun while performing the various yoga positions. Maybe it is a new way to practice yoga,” says Bachmann, who has been a yoga coach for over a year.

“But the idea of this practice is to make it very friendly. People can have a good laugh, enjoy their beer and not take the classes too seriously,” she says.

Bachmann who just landed in Cambodia about two months ago says she attended the French school Lycee Francais Rene Descartes (LFRD) in Phnom Penh from 2005 to 2010.

Later, she worked in communications for a year before quitting her job to become a yoga teacher.

Before introducing basic yoga postures, Bachmann tells her students: “If you want to have a nice time with your friends and colleagues, you can come here, exercise a little and have a drink too. It’s very relaxing, friendly, and casual.”

The postures she uses to practice with her amateur yogis depend on people who join the sessions.

Bachmann, who is a Vietnamese-French, says: “We practice very basic yoga, but sometimes we do some advanced exercises too. Even though one’s posture is not completely right, as long as you are having fun and sing along with the music, it will be fine.

“This is the perfect combination of working out, spending time with friends and having some beer. You have everything in a single session.”

Beer yoga is probably the first of its kind in Cambodia. “We want everyone to be part of this beer revolution. Having fun is so important in life, and there is so much more to craft beer than just getting drunk,” says Kirsch, who also takes part in the exercises.

Though it might seem ridiculous at first, he claims that participants value the experience they get out of it.

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Anna Bachmann (lady on blue mat) the yoga coach and Connor Cheney Kirsch the general manager of TwoBirds Craft Beer brewery. Hong Menea

“It is important to realise that it is a lot less serious than traditional yoga while being just as physically challenging. It simply is a fun thing,” he says.

Aside from Covid-19 restrictions, the turn-up also varies because some regular participants might be held up at work.

“Usually we have around 10 participants at a time, which is a manageable number that ensures Teacher Anna can pay attention to everyone,” says Kirsch.

Every customer in TwoBirds had their temperatures taken at the entrances of the Factory or Urban Village.

“Additionally we record everyone’s name and phone number, give out sanitisers and free masks. Your safety is our priority,” he says.

A one-hour fun Beer yoga session costs $8 with the first glass of beer thrown in for free. There is also no admission fee to attend the sessions which start at 6pm.

Basar says: “If we want some fun with friends and sweat at the same time, beer yoga is a fun experience to try.”

For more information, visit TwoBirds Craft Beer’s Facebook page @TwoBirdsCraftBeer.