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First Yoga Studio/Bar Opens in Brooklyn, Where Else?

in YD News

Would you like some fries and a frosty beer with that shakti shake? Call it the anti-detox retox movement. Bushwick, Brooklyn, aka “the next Williamsburg” is the new host neighborhood fo what we imagine is the first real yoga studio/bar offering lifted spirits of all kinds, Grubstreet reports. It’s called The Cobra Club, created by Yoga teachers and “hospitality industry vets” Nikki Koch, Julia Huffman, and Dana Bushman who felt yoga and booze would be just the right intoxicating combo.

No they do not serve beer during class. Instead the 2,500 square foot space is a studio by day serving up yoga classes and coffee, which by the afternoon turns into a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails (not cheesily named after yoga poses, for which we are both disappointed and relieved). Gastro fare includes Meat Hook hot dogs and Frito pies (with veggie options for either).

Co-owner Koch told Grubstreet:

“Every time we take a great class, afterward we want to go have a drink and relax and have a conversation,” Koch says, who then when on to share her penchant for “happy hour” handstands. Kidding! You know you’ve been there.

We’re absolutely guilty of grabbing a cold one from time to time after a sweaty yoga class, though we might toss in a few leafy greens to at least make us feel like we’re being half healthy.

Good idea? Bad idea?



77 comments… add one
  • Awful idea. There’s nothing like sitting in a posture thinking about grabbing a cold one after class, or guys in class hoping they get to hook up with the Lululemon princess on the mat in front of them. When you have to sell yoga using more than just yoga you deafeat the purpose.

  • When I come home from a yoga class or finish my meditation and head straight for a beer, I feel *guilty* like I’m un-doing what I just did. I don’t think drinking is wrong, but I feel like the bar atmosphere undermines the yoga studio atmosphere.

  • Horrible idea. Are you there for yoga and mindfulness or slamming some brews? There is just something intuitively wrong about this.

    • Sam Louise

      Why can’t you be there for both?? Are you also opposed to “juice bars” in yoga studios or the selling of water and other liquids near the reception area?

  • Shamanic_Rite

    They are going after the young, happy hour crowd.
    I’d always known it … with all the kick butt pose publicity photos and their advertisements of their playlists.

    Now they are more honest about their intentions …

  • Sigh … I don’t think drinking is immoral, but it is definitely not conducive of clarity of mind. It’s a choice. Practicing yoga is another choice. Each of these choices leads to a very different mental/physical/emotional outcome.

    This seems like yet another gimmick to sell yoga. In the process, the whole intention of practice, the settling of the mind into silence, is lost. As Judith Hanson Lasater says of all the myriad variations on “Yoga and …”, isn’t Yoga enough on its own?

    • great question, Charlotte! when did just doing yoga become not good enough?

      yoga in America = yoga as theme park

  • Shamanic_Rite

    Some yoga studios serve Kombucha … precursor to actual alcohol consumption …
    Many yoga class practices can center someone suited for it … precursor to getting high on booze and gourmet finger food ..

    So, it is not such a (pardon the pun) stretch

    I am too old to like it.
    This is a fad, anyway …
    And … evidence of Kali Yuga

    • AM

      Kali indeed. But we gotta pass through her to get to the next…

  • Mandi

    Wonderful idea! Obviously not for everyone, but I (and many others I know) enjoy a cold brew or a nice glass of red most evenings anyway, so why not combine the two? Yes, yoga is about many serious, self-improving things, blah blah blah…but it can also be a fun group activity that lends to socialization too. That is one of my favorite aspects of yoga–it has taught me to work on the serious inner parts of my being, but it can also be a part of having a good time too (and toned thighs. It doesnt hurt to have toned thighs with your Om).
    So like I said…certainly not for everyone, every time–but like baby yoga, dog yoga, naked yoga…it has its place. And not all yoga has to be so serious all the time.

  • honomann

    I don’t think they took it far enough. They should make it a methadone clinic too.

  • I’d rather hang with the Mob Wives than hang with yoga peeps who would go here….

  • Shamanic_Rite

    Well, these people cut their teeth at college parties doing unassisted keg stands … a natural evolution …

  • Chris

    “Every time we take a great class, afterward we want to go have a drink and relax and have a conversation,” Koch says

    After a powerful practice I desire nothing, nada, zilch. Contentment. If you are dying for an alcoholic beverage after class than you clearly are not in the right frame of mind while doing yoga. This coming from some teachers? …even worse

    • abbylou

      I go home after class feeling and eat dinner, which is often accompanied by a glass of wine. Does that mean I’m not in the right frame of mind while doing yoga? Oh, wait…I thought part of the practice is to observe where I am and be present, no matter what place my mind is. Guess I was wrong!

      • Sam Louise

        Abbylou – pay no attention to the yoga “purists” (the yoga world’s religious fundamentalists) and be yourself. Your idea of dinner and a lovely glass of wine sounds wonderful.

      • Chris

        That’s not at all what I’m saying and you know it, you’re just being patronizing.

        • Sam Louise

          Chris, the only one being patronizing is you.

          Here is your comment, “If you are dying for an alcoholic beverage after class than you clearly are not in the right frame of mind while doing yoga. This coming from some teachers? …even worse”. Can’t think of anything more judgemental and patronizing than that.

          • Chris

            Since when is following the “code of conduct” (yes I am generalizing) outlined in the Vedas and other texts a bad thing?

            That’s not an opinionated statement I made. Flat out, if you are dying for an alcoholic beverage after your yoga practice, than something is wrong. (Based on the philosophies behind the physical practices).

            I’m not saying you can’t have a drink or even a smoke after yoga class, I’m saying it’s the frame of mind your bringing to your actions.

            Yes Abbylou, your post-practice routine sounds absolutely fine.

            Sam L – as far as you coming in and labeling me a “religious fundamentalist,” chill out. I said nothing about you and you come here in attack mode AT me.

    • AM

      You have a point. But perhaps a nice mineral water wouldn’t hurt with some good friends and geeking out over sutras or sequencing.

    • abbylou

      Chris, I agree that a yoga studio and bar seems like a strange combination. And yes, it does seem odd that the inclination after a taking a great class is to drink.

  • jlafitte

    Yoga Sutra 4.1 – janmauṣadhimantratapaḥsamādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ
    Supernatural powers (siddhis) can arise from previous births, drugs, mantras, austerities and samadhi.

  • SoBeach

    Am I the only one who sweats like a lawn sprinkler during yoga?

    I don’t see myself at the bar after practice drinking a beer and shmoozing while I’m all sweaty. I don’t think anyone else wants to see me at the bar like that either.

    • AM

      You are not your sweat. Get over it

      • SoBeach

        I was just making a light-hearted comment. I’ll go off and feel bad now.

        • abbylou

          I have to wring out my hair after class.

        • AM

          🙂 don’t feel bad

  • MindiB

    Stupid idea, and condescending towards yoga.

    Things like this is the reason why the rest of the yoga world condemns what America is doing to it (don’t believe me? Do some workshops with non-US teachers and see what they have to say about the effect of the US on yoga).

    As someone else put it in the comments here, yoga in America = theme park. Once again America is throwing billions of dollars at somethings beautiful, exploiting it and ruining it for everyone else.

    • john

      More yoga racism

    • Lena

      MindiB; hear hear!

      “yogash citta vritti nirodha” (Yoga Sutras 1.2) or in other words; Yoga is the control of the modifications of the mind field.

      I don’t see how a yoga bar or Americanized yoga inc. helps with that. By all means have fun and enjoy your life; but stop calling nonsense like this yoga.

      • MindiB

        John: unfortunately it’s a fact. It doesn’t feel great having to say it, it’s great that America is taking it up, but it’s also starting to transform & twist it towards something unhealthy and too far from its roots. All for modernisation, but as Lena said – this garbage is not yoga.

        Real yoga = amazing talented unsigned band at your local pub. Songs you’ve never heard which make your spine tingle.
        American yoga = arena rock band with songs which all sound the same because everyone has heard those songs while bunching burgers in a lift.

        • john

          There’s no such thing as “American yoga”. The idea that there is, and that yoga in the mystical east (“Indian yoga”) is superior, is something unpleasantly similar to racism.

          • Lena

            Hi John,

            “There’s no such thing as “American yoga”.”

            I humbly disagree. Living in Europe, it is very easy to see the difference between “American” and Real Yoga. American yoga is all about transforming so called ‘yoga’ into a hip successful business formula that will generates heaps of money. To sell this formula, marketing techniques are used that play on our insecurities in general and on our outward appearance. Not only is this unhealthy (ahimsa anyone?), it downgrades ‘yoga’ to just another exercise program to help you look good and help you deal with your stress. In other words, “American yoga” is the now famous Yoga Inc.

            Because extremes can make a point much clearer, I urge you to look at this to see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSX3qV086A8

          • Lena

            P.s. This is not about “Indian Yoga” being superior; it is about calling things for what they are. Yoga is a path towards enlightenment, not the fitness program that is presented in most asana classes. The latter is of course very beneficial and fun, but it is not yoga.

          • Shamanic_Vision

            Didn’t think you’d go there, but you did.

            And those types are no strangers to Sanskrit or self-mortification.

            Why retain the venal, money grubbing hypocrisy, justify your greed with “spirituality”, and throw out the rest?

      • Sam Louise

        Lena, there is no such thing as “Real yoga”. Every philosophical, spiritual, or religious system that is brought to a different culture adapts to the new culture or it doesn’t survive and thrive there. Get off your high horse.

        • Lena

          Hi Sam Louise,

          “Every philosophical, spiritual, or religious system that is brought to a different culture adapts to the new culture or it doesn’t survive and thrive there”

          I agree with you here but I don’t see what the yoga that comes here from the States (Bikram, vinyasa accompanied with loud beats etc.) has to do with a spiritual system? It’s fitness. It’s healthy, it’s fun but a sprititual system? Please. It’s only called ‘yoga’ because that word sells. Simple as that.

          Because the term ‘yoga’ in the general point of view is already associated with fitness, tight clothes, hip young people with a hot yoga butt etc, . I make a distinction with that by calling the yoga – as a holistic path to enlightenment- Real yoga. If that annoys you I’m sorry, but if everybody would call things what they are (asana inc., fitness or yoga) this would not be necessary.

  • Viaion_Quest2

    My alter-ego said it before. “Theme park” is just touching the surface:

    This is what the hospitality industry(already) knows:

    Yoga has become the new:

    (1) Wine-tasting party
    (2) Team-building session
    (3) Cocktails poolside
    (4) Intense backlit discussion (for a now overly wired world)
    (5) Lobby huddle
    (6) Hot tub huddle
    (7) Ice breaking/networking session
    (8) Group therapy
    (9) (Dare I say it?) Foreplay

    Passing trend? Not likely.

    • Janet

      We’ve got:
      – yoga raves
      – yoga bars
      – yogawear outlet centers
      – yoga daycare
      – yoga ….screw it – where’s the yoga sex shop and yoga swingers club?

  • Its not my idea of yoga, but then there are alot of ideas out there that are not things I would want/do.

  • I think the only issue that I would have with it is logistics. If the bar is too loud, will it disturb the class going on simultaneously? They must have gotten really good sound proofing.

    In my mind, this is really no different than some of the “yoga studios of old.” There are studios that still exist that have cafes, for example. There’s one in Australia that’s been a cafe cum camp ground cum yoga studio for about 25 years now apparently (maybe more). I figure that someone just decided to open up what they loved and make it accessible to people. I think there’s a similar cafe in NYC and also one in San Fran.

    I believe Walt Baptiste’s original place also had a cafe in addition to the yoga studios and, I believe but can’t be sure, an actual weight lifting/gym environment (i read some reports that say yes, others that say no). I mean, he opened his place in the 1940s, I think.

    For me, it’s no big deal. One of my friends opened her raw food cafe next door to the yoga studio because she knew she’d have a “captive audience” or a lot of foot-traffic. And she did. The studio saw 500 people a week in there, and she said that the majority of her clients are those yoga students. She also sees several people from the near-by gym as well as the near-by hospital and doctor’s offices (she often does bulk orders for them). There’s also a theater (stage/plays) about 1/2 a block from her place. She was savvy. She knew these “types” would be interested in her food.

    And her business is very successful. She was able to move to a larger location even.

    So, I see it as two things: 1. people doing what they love; and 2. people being good entrepreneurs. Generally, if you like something, chances are other people like it too. If you like getting smoothie after your yoga, or a beer, then combining those two things and creating a space that can attract similar people isn’t terrible.

    I don’t really think of this as a gimmick so much as an expression. 25-30 years ago an Aussie couple found their paradise. They built a little building and opened a cafe and yoga studio there. They build massive organic gardens. They do what they love — was it a gimmick? Or just passions for them?

    I mean, I find it kind of harsh to just be like “no, these people are shallow.” I really see people who say “After yoga, I like to do this. So, when I decided to open my yoga shop, I wanted to offer this.” I don’t really see anything wrong with that, truly.

    If my friend were to decide to rock up to NZ and try to open a raw food cafe, I might be like “yeah, look, lets do it combined. You do your cafe, and I’ll do a holistic center right by.” Why not? Everyone benefits.

    I suppose I’m just more liberal. I mean, after all, for me, yoga isn’t the end all and be all, and it’s not just one thing. I can take a yoga class, get a massage or acupuncture or energy healing in my place. And then pop down to Kapai and grab a great salad and cup of soup before heading into my office to eat that and do my emails and comment on YogaDork. 😉

    If Kapai said “hey, we are thinking about a joint venture” I’d be like “good. lets do it.” With a business plan and proper legal formation and stuff, of course.

  • What could be more natural than yoga and eating and drinking?

    “Can I live?”

  • john

    I am much more spiritual than these people because I walk out of the yoga studio and into a restaurant after class if I want to drink and eat and chat with my friends.

    Nobody has asked the essential question. Are the yoga classes any good? The rest is just silly. If you don’t like the bar don’t stop there.

  • Shamanic_Journeys

    Evidently, no yoga class is good enough.

    I remember when I had been a yoga nidra addict.

    And I guess I’d never evolved to a great stage. Nothing like the stories you read about yogis in India.

    Just one drink would in 5 minutes chemically get me to that noetic/feeling place where it always had taken about an hour of yoga nidra to pull off.

  • ammo

    I checked out their website, and they seem pretty upfront about the fact that they are a “home for yoga misfits”. I don’t see anything wrong with this. I feel no need to control another person’s practice nor condemn those inspired to create a new type of community. If it isn’t my thing, I simply won’t be a patron.

    • Shamanic_Rite

      From their website, it sounds like they teach a forgiving style, and that they are not looking for people looking for a “workout” from yoga or someone who wants to explore the philosophy or the Sutras. And, they will make their money from running the bar, so there is no pressure to sell/upsell unlimited passes or private sessions … it seems very much as if a party venue ran a yoga studio rather than a yoga studio throwing a “community” party.

      I’ve been around long enough to know what old-school yoga feels like, what gym yoga based on fusion feels like.

      It’s not the place where they teach or pretend they will teach, just to rope an unsuspecting young person in, scorpion handstand. For that I give them a BIG pass. I’m someone on the far side of 50, and while I do like the Sanskrit, I do NOT like the hype and the sideshows.

      I may change my mind if by some chance Briohny Smyth teaches an acro workshop there and become the hater you young people love to call “haters”

      Showoff yoga can suck it. Which means I really don’t care if this is a party place.

      • Shamanic_Rite

        Beginner-friendly/non-intimidating for first timers? Not much in the way of hypocrisy?

        Sounds like Bikram, minus the drill sergeant …

        YMMV, but two of the five yoga studios I ever tried, felt like they were secret societies–no introductions of themselves by the teacher, no asking if the students have any injuries … we’re not on a mountain somewhere, O great guru …

      • john

        Sanskrit is a sideshow of its own. I know plenty of people over 50 with solid scorpion handstands. I also know what old school yoga is like; give me the modern stuff any day, there are more of the gifted teachers around and the run of the mill are a whole lot better educated.

  • Lena

    P.s. This is not about “Indian Yoga” being superior; it is about calling things for what they are. Yoga is a path towards enlightenment, not the fitness program that is presented in most asana classes. The latter is of course very beneficial and fun, but why call it yoga when it is not? It’s like saying I drive a car when I only have a bike ’cause it sounds much more hip and cool and will make me more friends…

    • Shamanic_Vision

      And that “car” you are talking about is easier on my arthritis ….

    • Sam Louise

      Yoga is what you want it to be for yourself. Quit telling everyone what yoga is for you.

      • Lena

        “Quit telling everyone what yoga is for you.”

        SL, you did this yourself in the sentence before this one 🙂 And thanks for the heads up that it is illegal nowadays to even talk about the meaning of the term yoga.

        “Yoga is what you want it to be for yourself”

        I’m glad I received a much clearer answer than this from my teachers when I wanted to know what yoga is.

        P.s. Sorry for the double post of the original post. It was an addition to something I wrote earlier in this thread.

        • Sam Louise

          I think you misunderstand me, Lena. When I say “yoga is what you want it to be” I am saying to leave the door wide open for individual interpretations. For some people, like yourself, it is for achieving enlightenment (whatever that is), for some it is a stress reliever, for someone else it is exercise. To each their own.

          And no , I never said it was ‘illegal” to talk of what yoga is. I was discussing how it is problematic to be telling people what yoga is. You said it is for enlightenment and then universalized the statement. Just because someone is not seeking enlightenment (again, whatever that is) does not mean they are not doing yoga. I’m merely pointing out your dogmatism.

          • Lena

            Again, we come back to calling things for what they are. You say yoga is not ‘whatever you want it to be’, and I disagree. It is a well described framework of practices consisting of 8 limbs, discussed in many books and scriptures and practised consistently for ages by many people.

            If certain parts of this system are useful for an individual, for example mediation for stress relieve, or asana for exercise; all for the better. Everybody is free to take what is beneficial for them. But practising a part does not mean you practice the whole. And that goes especially for asana’s; 99% of what we practice today is no more than 100 years old and has little to do with the yoga system.

            Patanjali summarised the system about 1800 years ago, and this is still seen as one of the best descriptions of yoga ever written. So what is yoga:”Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah”. How do you get there? Practice the 8 limbs. Many more commentaries, scriptures and books followed after this one, aimed at discussing this set of practices in more detail.

            This is the context of yoga, whether you like it or not. And with all due respect to your opinion; ‘yoga is whatever you want it to be’ isn’t really a good summary of this. Maybe you mean something more along the lines of “everybody is free to use those practices found in yoga that are beneficial for them”. If so, I wholeheartedly agree.

  • AM



  • VQ2

    Researched the possible lineage of The Cobra Club.

    It seems that the yoga they teach is not out for blood. It seems, at first glance, to be from Abhyasa Yoga Center, Therapeutic Yoga school. [J. Brown’s place]

    But I quit practicing in public before I could become burned out on vinyasa … so I am assuming that the refugees who’ve had it “up to here” with the take-no-prisoners bootcamp stuff would be swarming to a place like The Cobra Club.

    I may be wrong about all this.

    But, as that old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar …”

    • VQ2

      And my curiosity stems from seeing if it had anything to do with another lineage, which is starting to market itself aggressively in NYC… I am pleasantly relieved!

  • I do not like this idea. In my practice I have learned the benefit of not altering the state of my mind with intoxicating substances. I have used yoga to find a place of inner stillness and stillness. Yoga sets prepare the body and mind for meditation. The environment of a bar and the energies within it would be in direct conflict with that. In Savasana and meditation we are especially susceptible to the energies around us. I would neither practice or teach at such a place

  • choonmoon

    Hey everyone! Practice and let practice. This must have been what the denomination of Christianity was like. How does anyone’s practice affect yours? Let them enjoy their life and their yoga. If your offended that someone below your moral/ethical/social standard is doing something and calling it yoga, quietly recognize the difference and move on. I love wine, and I love yoga. The two do not mesh well for most, but I won’t shun anyone who combines the two. Not everyone is practicing yoga for your reasons. Some people practice to stay in shape, some for relaxation, some for inner peace, and some for being part of a group activity. All are valid. Live and let live.

  • All of these judgemental statements are not very yogic…are they?

    Its about building communities… I have tons of clients that drink wine…. I have clients that are in AA.. I have some who are ex junkies… some that have robbed banks… some that have stayed in bad marriages .. some are rich and some are poor….

    The asanas do the magic… Have faith…
    MIRRORS and DIRTY SWEATY CARPET and rockstar head sets…If these can be yoga… than a glass of wine can be too… IMO..



  • I have chainsmokers, sex addicts, GOSSIPS… but the worst is this radical dogma that’s being spewed here… Obvious to me that some of you have to judge others… what happened to NAMASTE???

  • JMS

    I do yoga for the sports benefits because I need to keep up the flexibility and strength to play ice hockey goalie. I feel uncomfortable going to places which get preachy with all thia spiritual stuff which is not for me . I just want to do yoga and work on my body. That being said I was once someone who did Ashtanga and practiced with Pattabhi Jois. But after a while I got so burnt out and realized it was not happening. I went back to playing ice hockey and using yoga as part of my training along with weight lifting and endurance exercises. SO some of us are on different journeys….
    ALSO have you ever been to this place? I gather not from the comments. It is a well designed place. The yoga studio is separate from the bar and the way the layout is – you would not hear see or be near the bar while practicing- you are in fact in a different space in the building which is HUGE. It is as if a yoga studio is renting space from another business. If you live in NY you know how space is. FOR INSTANCE- I had a work holiday party at the Puck Building in NY and watched a co-worker throw up all over the place. The next month I am at the Puck building doing ashtanga with Pattabhi Jois. JUST wanted to point that out.
    In this economy- If they did not operate part of the building as a bar they would not be open. It’s the only way to survive in Bushwick which is a neighborhood which is slowly changing and struggling. I approve of the business model and if you saw the space it is very nice and has ‘good energy’ as far as I can see. I also love my beer and wine.

    • VQ2

      I wasn’t going to comment again, but you are absolutely right! Another blogger did point out over on Facebook that running a bar is a MUCH better cash cow for a yoga venue than holding teacher trainings back to back (unless your style is special, known or in demand).

      Which brings me to the point that it doesn’t even have to be a wet bar … it could be any high-volume, higher margin cash/carry business …

  • You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work
    you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe.

    Always follow your heart.

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