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I was laying on my back with my eyes closed when I felt someone pushing on my shoulders and hovering over me. Upon opening my eyes, I met the woman I would soon interview. This might seem like a strange introduction to a person -- but not when that woman is Après Yoga instructor Denelle Numis, who teaches classes in breweries.
I’d done yoga in a brewery before and loved the experience. Sure, the yoga was enjoyable -- but mostly because I knew I’d get to drink beer after the workout. So when a friend told me that Numis was embarking on a cross-country brewery/winery yoga class tour, I knew that this was the type of person I needed to speak to.
Numis kept the atmosphere loose -- I didn’t know you could smile and laugh so much in a yoga class. And the brewery was a beautiful space, despite the fact that when I did certain poses, I could see an array of different colored gum that had been stuck to the bottom of the bar. Yep, I was definitely doing yoga in a brewery...
Welcome to another edition of Let’s Have a Beer With…, a series in which I sit down with interesting people over a cold one to find out more about their lives. Numis and I met up at Alpine Dog Brewing Co. in Denver, Colorado after I took one of her Sunday morning classes. It cost $15, which is about what any average yoga class costs these days -- except this one came with a free beer.
I ordered the refreshing-as-heck Fresh Soul Grapefruit Session IPA and she got the West Coast-style Yakima Nectar IPA. “My go-to has been the grapefruit,” she says. “I think [the Yakima Nectar] is similar, but a little hoppier than the grapefruit. Has a nice amber color, too.”
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Once we got a few sips in, I asked her about how she ended up teaching yoga in spaces more conducive to creating beer guts than eliminating them:
On people’s misconceptions about yoga: “When I tell people I teach yoga, I often hear, ‘I’m so inflexible,’ or, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m too [fill in the blank].’ I try to explain that it’s a balance of strength and flexibility. It’s about tuning into your own breath and body, [and finding] what feels right. It’s scary for some people to do that. My classes are for all levels. I try to make it accessible and versatile, so I get you out of your comfort zone. Try to shock the body a little bit.”
Why you should drink after yoga: “There are people in other countries like Germany or Thailand that drink while practicing -- and while that might be cool and novel, I’m not an advocate. There’s a sanctity about the yoga practice that’s spiritual and transformative that you don’t get when you’re imbibing. If more people come to yoga because they get a beer afterwards, that’s great. But the beer has to be after practice, because the practice itself is so special, unique, and transformative. Then they can enjoy the beer and connect with the community after class. That’s why we call it ‘yoga with benefits.’”
Where she’s stopping on her 20+ city yoga and brewery/winery tour that wraps up September 1st: “I’m going to Crazy Mountain (Edwards, CO), Zephyr Brewing (Denver, CO), and then I’m back here at Alpine Dog. Then it’s Perennial (St. Louis, MO), Streetside (Cincinnati, OH), Forest City (Cleveland, OH), Confluence Brewing (Des Moines, IA), Track 7 (Sacramento), and a winery, Brack Mountain (Sebastopol, CA). Then it’s more breweries: 21st Amendment (San Leandro, CA), before I drive down the coast to Stone Brewing (San Diego, CA), Mission Brewing (also San Diego). Then I drive through Joshua Tree, Phoenix, and Sedona, before coming back to Denver and teaching a class at Upslope (Boulder, CO).” That’s a lot of yoga. And a lot of beer to drink!
On the perfect post-yoga beer: “I usually go for a pale ale, because it’s an easy-drinking option. At Alpine Dog, I like Miss American Rye, because I’m from Rye, New York! And it’s also a lighter beer. I’d recommend people drink something under 8% and have some water, too. And a snack! Sometimes I bring pastries or baked goods for everyone to eat.”
An hour after the class ended, most of the people I’d done yoga with (many of whom are regulars) were chatting at the bar, drinking their second or third Alpine Dog selection. Beer and yoga might be an unlikely pairing on the surface, but Numis has helped create a community that revolves around the enjoyment of both. After all, who can say no to beer and two extremely relaxed shoulders?