“Okay, so now we’re going to move the left leg all the way through and wrap the foot around the right calf in eagle pose,” our instructor Angelica tells the group.
At least I think that’s what she said (I’m definitely paraphrasing right now).
It’s 10:30am, I haven’t eaten, and I’m practising yoga on a New York City rooftop, with a glass of rosé in hand.
The reason I’m not sure of what Angelica said is that this is not my first glass of wine, and I’ve been giggling since class commenced.
She asks us to weave one arm under the other and pretzel them together – wine in hand. The challenge is to see how flexible your shoulders are by taking a sip like this.
Being the competitive monster I am, I focus all my energy on slowly tipping the glass towards my mouth (on one foot, arms intertwined – don’t forget), but lose my balance and spill rosé down my front.
This is Drunk Yoga, folks.
The practise was born in New York (like most head-turning trends), and while I’ve long been intrigued by the concept, I was a little sceptical of it at first.
I thought: “Yeah, it would probably be fun. But do I really want to be paying to stretch while tipsy?”
Turns out that yes. Yes, I really do.
“I’ve been a yoga teacher and a performer for a long time, and an entrepreneur at heart,” Eli Walker – the woman behind the trend – told me when I approached her for this story.
“I’ve worked for years experimenting with ways to integrate yoga with performance art in such a way that is practical, yet transformative,” she explained.
But nothing seemed to stick until she walked into a bar in September 2017.
“It was Grey Lady; a bar I worked at briefly after college,” she said.
“One of the owners and I were catching up, and he said, ‘Oh, you’re a yoga teacher now? You should teach me yoga, I can’t even touch my toes.’
“…then he did. And he said, ‘Oh, I guess I can do it when I’m drunk?'”
That little unexpected toe-touch sparked the idea for “a truly beginner-friendly, communal yoga practice”.
“Wine brings us together, and yoga brings you to yourself. So, what better way to make yoga accessible than by turning it into a happy hour?” said Walker.
As the name indicates, a Drunk Yoga class is pretty light-hearted in nature. As soon as I arrived at my first class, the energy was relaxed and incredibly welcoming.
But don’t think this means there’s no actual work involved. This is still yoga, after all.
There are even rules to follow.
Once we were planted on our mats, our teacher Angelica shared that there are ten rules in Drunk Yoga – most of which we probably wouldn’t remember (I definitely didn’t).
They include the likes of:
- Spill wine on your mat – you have to give yourself a compliment.
- Spill wine on someone else’s mat – you have to give them a compliment.
- Take a sip without being told to – you have to give the teacher a compliment.
- Spill all of your wine and must refill – you have to do it while doing a yoga pose.
We flowed through what Angelica called our ‘vino-yasa’ and moved into everything from chair pose to a warrior sequence. Let me tell you, a reverse warrior with a glass of wine in your hand is no simple feat.
Despite the playful elements – like clinking glasses with your neighbour while in plank pose – I was surprised to find the class wasn’t all that different from other yoga practises I’ve tried.
Except, I never once felt intimidated. And sometimes (I stress the *sometimes* part) that can be the case for beginners in other yoga classes. As much as you try to focus on your own body and headspace, there are days where you can’t help but compare yourself to the five-foot-ten gazelle at the front of the studio with her ankles wrapped around her ears.
During this class, there was not even a hint of that. In fact, we were all actively encouraging one-another.
No one cared if a pose didn’t work out – we were all there to learn and have a good time. The end result was a group of strangers on a rooftop, having a laugh, dishing out compliments and moving their bodies in the sunshine.
Just try and tell me that isn’t good for the soul.
“I like to describe this class as an entertainment experience through the vehicle of a yoga class. More like a ‘yoga party,’ where everyone’s invited,” Walker shared.
“I wanted to create a community for yogis and non-yogis alike to celebrate life through mindful movement.
“And what better way to do that than with a glass of wine with your friends on a yoga mat, guided by a fun, dynamic instructor who is there to remind you of all of the things you have to be grateful for?”
After experiencing it for myself, I’d really have to agree.