Bottoms up! South Florida breweries pair yoga and beer

South Florida breweries @Saltwaterbrewer, @miamibrewingco and more pair yoga classes and beer

On weekend mornings at SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, it's not uncommon to hear the sound of yoga chants mingle with the clink of beer glasses.

It's the newest beer pairing in South Florida: People are hopping from downward dog to taproom barstools at local breweries, where the exercise-minded can unwind with bending and then unwind again with craft brews.

"I call it going from detox to re-tox," says yoga instructor Alexis King, who teaches Bend at the Brewery on Saturdays and Sundays inside SaltWater Brewery's beer hall. The $15 class, held before the brewery opens for business, buys visitors a one-hour session followed by four flights (or 4-ounce pours) of beer.

As with SaltWater, Twisted Trunk Brewery in Palm Beach Gardens, Concrete Beach Brewery in Wynwood and Miami Brewing Company in Homestead are serving up Namaste with pints of beer. The beer-meets-yoga vibe, instructors and brewery owners say, has drawn more women to taprooms and more men to yoga, lured by a communion of fit people who enjoy relaxing, exercising and — perhaps most important — rewarding that stretching with stouts and ales.

"It's a great opportunity to teach yoga to people who might be intimidated about yoga and yoga studios. What's more comfortable than a brewery?" asks King, of Delray Beach, adding that "75 to 80 percent" of her brewery yoga students are first-timers. "Plus, there's a lot of females here, so why wouldn't a guy want to come?"

On a recent Sunday morning, rows of multicolored yoga mats covered this Saltwater's terrazzo floors instead of the usual oak tables and barstools. As the brewery's walls rattled from the Tri-Rail rolling past, King strolled among the yoga mats, delivering instructions to the barefoot 15 women and six men who flexed their arms and thighs on the floor.

"Keep your sternum close to the mat as you swoop into upward-facing dog," King, 32, told her class, as she moved them from sun salutations to warrior poses.

Andy Sziraki, who has been attending King's classes for nearly a year, says SaltWater's "chill," casual setting cuts across gender and breaks down stereotypes that yoga is "dominated by women."

"I call it 'broga.' It's when bros go to yoga," says Andy Sziraki, 31, of Delray Beach, in between post-workout sips of Accomplice Strawberry Cider from a snifter glass. "When I talk to the buddies about yoga, I'm like, 'It's in a brewery, though.' That helps. You get up in the morning to do some physical and stay athletic."

Chris Gove, the president of SaltWater Brewery, says yoga in the brewery not only "mimics" a fitness trend born in California and Washington's craft-beer scenes, but has the bonus of converting yoga students into regular customers.

"The South Florida lifestyle is all about healthy living, and beer and yoga balance each other out well," Gove says. "It all about the relaxation they bring."

At Miami Brewing Company in Homestead, Shelah Davis' Om Brew Yoga has been going strong on Saturday mornings. Her class, which also costs $15 and averages about 40 people per session, migrated here two years ago from Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park to teach closer to home. Davis' classes often attract "people with a bit more fluff to their bods" and beer enthusiasts trying yoga for the first time.

"We get a lot of men coming into the brewery," Davis says. "Their girlfriends and significant others are just saying, 'I can get him to try yoga and I'll bribe him with beer.'"

First-timers always ask the inevitable question: Why practice healthy yoga when beer packs on calories?

"It does sound like they contradict each other, but having beer once in a while won't hurt anyone," Davis says. "They're definitely a logical pairing, plus it's fun."

Back at SaltWater, Delray Beach couple Christie Bellino, 29, and Eric Hammer, 31, mop sweat from their brows while rolling up their yoga mats. Lured to yoga by his fiancée with the promise of free beer, Hammer says he's grown to enjoy the morning routine.

"[Christie] was like, 'This is something we can do together,'" Hammer says. "For me, a brewery is more comfortable, a different energy from a yoga studio. It's neutral territory, and you can get a beer afterward."

Bend at the Brewery runs 10-11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays at SaltWater Brewery, 1701 W. Atlantic Ave., in Delray Beach. Cost is $15. Call 561-865-5373 or go to SaltWaterBrewery.com.

Om Brew Yoga begins 10:45 a.m. Saturdays at Miami Brewing Company, 30205 SW 217th Ave., in Homestead. Cost is $15. Call 305-242-1224 or go to MiamiBrewing.org.

Detox Yoga begins 11 a.m. Sundays at Twisted Trunk Brewing, 2000 PGA Blvd., in Palm Beach Gardens. Cost is $18. Call 561-671-2337 or go to TwistedTrunkBrewing.com.

Na'Ima Stay and Have a Pint runs 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays at Concrete Beach Brewery, 339 NW 24th St., in Miami. Cost is $15. Call 305-796-2727 or go to ConcreteBeachBrewery.com

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