Although the Bronx might have a fraction of the yoga studios than Manhattan and Brooklyn do, the borough has something the rest of New York does not: class in a working brewery.
Every Saturday, a group of yogis meet at Gun Hill Brewery in the Williamsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, which opened earlier this year. For an hour before the brewery opens, they practice yoga. Around noon, they roll up their mats and head to the tasting room to indulge in their well-earned craft libations.
“People try to find similarities in each other after class,” MardeahGbotoe said. “I feel like sitting down and drinking after you’ve done a down dog together is more intimate than a blind date.”
Gbotoe, 33, is a co-organizer of the group, along with Yvette Quaye Akua. The poet and Trader Joe’s employee said she had visited the brewery several times after it opened, and was talking to co-owner Kieran Farrell about the pressures of opening a new business. Farrell joked about trying yoga, and Gbotoe said she “pitched the idea right then and there.”
Yoga classes held in breweries is a small but growing trend in places such as Colorado, Pennsylvania and California.
“Why not the Bronx, everyone else gets all the attention,” Gbotoe said. “It’d be kind of cool to get something that’s unique.”
Yogis of all experience levels have come to the Saturday morning classes over the past two months, traveling from New Jersey, Yonkers, Queens and Long Island.
“Yoga means to unite and join together. Why not put the two (yoga and beer) together?” Gbotoe asked.
And while the classes have a small following, Gbotoe is hoping the concept strikes the right chord, and the group gets a consistent showing of about 15 people each week. All ages, levels of experience and flexibility are welcome, Gbotoe said, and the only collective goal is to “feel stronger” when you leave the brewery.
The organizers are hoping to provide affordable, community access to yoga in a borough where studios are few and far between.
“Getting people to show up is hard, and getting people to come back is even harder,” said Victor Chaves, who teaches the class and lives in the Bronx. “There’s a drug store on every corner in the Bronx … I want people to know that there’s another option out there, a more natural and healthy option.”
Brewery co-owner Farrell, 45, said the brewery is happy to support the yogis and give them a space to move and drink beer after.
Farrell said Gun Hill Brewery is the only place that makes beer in the Bronx, and has already received a gold medal from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival.
“People didn’t expect something like this to open up (here),” Farrell said. “It’s something you see in Brooklyn, not the Bronx.”
More information on the class is available atwww.beerandbend.com.