Have you ever been to yoga class hungover? Satya, now, yogis. So there’s this yoga studio in Brooklyn that’s also a bar. Yes, a bar where people have beer and real cocktails called “teenagers from mars.” You can stumble into Friday’s “happy hour” yoga class drunk tired from the week, rejuvenate and then go have brew. Or you can get sloshed on Friday night and show up for Sunday’s “hangover” yoga class, at the merciful and civilized hour of 2:30pm. So you can have hangover brunch or hangover yoga. Or hangover yoga then hangover brunch. Or both at the same time, in the same place, since hangover yoga comes with a free drink, and it’s not green. Hair of the downward dog, if you will. Did we mention this is Brooklyn?
So drinking and yoga, counterproductive? Oxymoronic? Just moronic? Nikki Koch, Julia Huffman and Dana Bushman, co-owners of The Cobra Club a bar/yoga studio/café in Bushwick don’t think so. Neither does yoga teacher Reagan Wilson who leads the “hangover” class and is also a bartender.
“Hangover yoga,” which she[Reagan]’s been teaching since January, offers a chance to “let go of the embarrassing photos you took last night,” to detoxify, and to numb your pain with a new round of free booze.
“The same way social drinking can be a way to relax, yoga is another tool,” said Wilson, who’s taught yoga the past six years and bartends at the establishment. “It’s a lighthearted class. I make jokes about being in an altered state. I accept everyone as they come.”
Of course, there are no crazy inversions or stunt-y poses, but twists and forward folds during class either end in hangover relief, snoozing on the mat or another round of drinks at the bar. (Btw, bartender and yoga teacher is not an unusual combination in NYC. You gotta make a living.)
As you might expect, The Cobra Club caught a ton of flack when we posted about the opening last year. One of the criticisms asked, isn’t just yoga good enough on its own? While others were deeply offended, while still others cheered the effort in meeting yogis where they’re at. The Cobra Club’s counterpoint is, Can’t Brooklyn hipsters and non-hipsters who like to get their drink on feel welcome in yoga too?
And they’re not shy about the “value” of our vices. Their “About” page reads:
Yoga is not a sport. It’s not something to master, it’s something to enjoy. A gentle yoga practice provides inherent wisdom and sense of calm in our hectic lives.
There are those who think that yoga is a series of complicated poses leading to inner peace, and that a rigorous yoga practice and vegan diet is the only true path to enlightenment. At The Cobra Club we don’t believe there is a path. Enlightenment is an experience… not a destination.
We also reject the idea that in order to live full and happy lives we must abstain from all vices, detach from the world and become saint-like. We believe that if there is a secret to life, it lies in experiencing all sides of existence – the bad and the good, sadness and joy, darkness and light. We embrace our vices for the value they bring to our lives.
Welcome to The Cobra Club. Yoga for your dark side, spirits for your soul.
Some might argue this is the dark side of yoga. But, hey, if we can accept Metal Yoga and Star Wars Yoga, can we embrace Hangover Yoga in a big sloppy beer-muscled bear-asana hug? Maybe. If we can get a free drink or yoga class out of it? Hm.
Buzz is extra.
“Yoga is not a sport. It’s not something to master, it’s something to enjoy.”
Exactly because you don’t master the yoga you master the body through yoga. That’s the point. Toxifying the body while trying to heal it is the antithesis of yoga. It’s counter productive. IF that’s what you’re doing then own it don’t get defensive. That’s also not the point of yoga. Accept your hangover, accept your need to have a drink, accept yourself. The people will still come.
Yes, it does seem to go against the basic philosophical teachings. HOWEVER, many young people are finding balance between fun social activities, active physical exercise, and a growing spiritual life. This is an awesome way for yoga to be accessible to these young people. ALSO, it is a great way to make yoga available to those who might feel that yoga is “too spiritual” or “too serious” for them. This could be an awesome first stop on the path to becoming an active practicing yogi 🙂
Globalization of yoga at it’s finest.
I do love a good time and maybe like Jess says it will encourage others who might not be attracted to yoga. Still, regardless of yogic tradition—common sense tells me that drinking and any form of exercise, massage, yoga is counterproductive. Besides as an adult aren’t there enough social activities that encourage drinking?
Yoga is about waking up and this sounds like a while lot of falling asleep.
*whole lot of falling asleep* and after spending six weeks in India without seeing a single bar, I don’t see how this fits into practice at all.
Is this one of the yamas? I must have missed it when I was reading Patanjali.
“Globalization of yoga at it’s finest”? No, this is capitalism at it’s finest. Everything becomes a commodity and yoga is now a multi-billion dollar business. It’s all for sale. Find your niche. I was thinking about how energized a vinyasa class could be if cocaine were offered at the door. Of course, i guess it’s relative to what the state deems is legal right?
I am sick enough to have benumbed feet all the time. I can’t drink alcohol. I can’t do headstands and have to avoid most other inversions or the blood gushes to my head.
They should have yoga for people with chronic illnesses. Maybe teach yoga in a walk-in clinic, along with the Zumba classes … after all, yoga is a healing art. Not a strongman competition.
Might be a close cousin to the mild, forgiving, throwback style they teach at The Cobra Club.
Vision_Quest2, they do–it’s called restorative yoga, though you don’t have to be chronically ill to do it. That or yoga nidra–both are extremely gentle, healing, and restful.
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