Yoga isn’t really my jam. My experience is limited to two Groupons’ worth of Bikram (too hot, too smelly), a weekly vinyasa flow during marathon training (too boring), and a couple of hip-hop yoga classes at Y7 (too crowded).
But I do like wine.
So, on a recent Thursday evening, I found myself on the terrace at the Even Hotel in Midtown East in Warrior II pose, balancing a glass of red in my right hand (with five others, including a co-worker I coerced into joining me and a few hotel guests).
“It’s OK if you spill,” says Drunk Yoga creator Eli Walker, 29, an actress and yogi who created the trademarked yoga brand in 2017. “But if you do spill on your mat, you have to say one nice thing about yourself.”
Her 90-minute class, set to a variety of pop music and throwback jams (every class ends with Bobby McFerrin’s ’80s bop, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), features proprietary moves like the Corkscrew, where you spin around in the pretzel-like Gomukhasana pose without taking your feet off the ground. There’s also the Twerking Downward Dog, which is exactly what it sounds like — Downward Dog while shaking your rear — and a bit dizzying after drinking alcohol.
On the booze front: Yogis sip red, white or sparkling (with a two-glass max) throughout the class, but only when prompted. Sometimes, vino doubles as a prop: for example, when we’re told to balance the cups on our heads during Chair pose.
Although I did break a sweat — granted, it was 85 degrees and humid — I didn’t feel like I really got a workout.
Of course, fitness isn’t really the point.
“Drunk Yoga is an entertainment experience led through a beginner-friendly yoga class that teaches the art of cultivating personal joy,” Walker tells The Post.
Like the many questionable forms of yoga that preceded it — goat, cat, Harry Potter, naked (Google it), etc. — Drunk Yoga is more gimmick than gym session. It’s better suited to bachelorette parties and out-of-the-box co-worker bonding than your ongoing workout regimen.
Still, the shtick helped Walker land a book deal (“Drunk Yoga: 50 Wine & Yoga Poses to Lift Your Spirit(s)”) and she’s garnered enough interest that 15 certified instructors have signed on to teach the program in New York, California and abroad (Drunk Yoga recently hosted a retreat in Tuscany, Italy).
“People say I’m ruining yoga,” says Walker, who has certifications in Iyengar and ashtanga, among others. “One woman, a [yogi], said she hopes I get cancer.” She thinks the outrage is ridiculous. “Everyone [in the yoga community] has become too self-important and too serious.”
So, clearly it’s not passing muster with prestigious yogis. But is it safe?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), alcohol use can cause sports-related injuries because it affects cognitive function, balance and motor control — all of which are key for optimal sports performance. Regular alcohol use was also found to slow down the healing process from sports-related injuries. (Walker says that she limits her participants to two glasses of wine and monitors their behavior, and has seen no issues related to injuries so far.)
Tejal Patel, a yoga instructor at Humming Puppy in Chelsea, isn’t above a little substance-enhanced yoga class: She teaches a monthly CBD restorative yoga class.
But CBD, she tells The Post, doesn’t affect your body the way alcohol does — and she thinks drinking through sun salutations is downright irresponsible.
“If you’re drinking [and doing yoga], it’s like operating heavy machinery, but the machinery is your body,” says the Brooklyn resident, who runs a podcast called “Yoga is Dead.”
Plus, it ruins the point of yoga, which is to be in the moment, she says.
“These gimmicks take away some of the mindfulness of the practice,” Patel says. “Why does a goat have to be on your mat? It’s a distraction. The postures are challenging enough.”
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