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VOL. 131 | NO. 19 | Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bendy Brewski: Yoga Offered to Memphians in Unconventional Spaces

By Andy Meek

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The unusual venture former Memphian Beth Cosi launched in Charleston back in 2011 – pairing yoga and beer, with classes held in local breweries – might at first sound like a cheap trick to convince people who’ve never hit the mat before to give it a try.

Yoga instructor Amy Hutcheson guides a class through a session of Bendy Brewski Yoga amongst the kegs and grain sacks at High Cotton Brewery.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

But that’s not why the idea of a yoga-beer mashup has been multiplying in cities around the country lately or why Cosi decided to bring her Bendy Brewski classes to Memphis.

Cosi says the motivation behind partnerships like Bendy Brewski – which holds classes twice a week in Memphis, alternating between Rec Room and High Cotton Brewing Co. – and those from other yogis who’ve launched similar events elsewhere is, in a word, “community.”

In other words, come for the stretching. Stick around for the brews and socializing.

True, mindfulness and an inward focus are part and parcel of a traditional yoga practice. But Cosi, who monitors the Bendy Brewski effort from her home in Charleston and has enlisted an instructor to lead the classes in Memphis, says there are still plenty of people who can be reached who also “just want connection with each other.”

“I’m from Memphis and have always loved Memphis,” said Cosi, a graduate of Central High School who decided to bring the classes here after a recent return visit that gave her a first look at the city’s craft beer scene.

Classes run 45 minutes and cost $15, which includes a beer tasting afterwards. About the reception so far, Cosi has been pleased and is already thinking about expanding the concept locally.

Bendy Brewski holds yoga classes in Memphis twice a week, alternating between High Cotton Brewing Co. (shown here) and the Rec Room.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“I think the first class was this past summer,” she said. “This is perfect for people who might not come into a studio.

“After it’s done, you have an opportunity to talk to the teacher and with the people you’ve been rolling around on the floor with. The beer element, because it’s craft beer, also kind of lifts up all the hard work that men and women put behind their own craft.”

Rec Room isn’t a brewery, of course, but the vibe is similar. When businessman Taylor Berger, one of the partners behind Rec Room, heard about Cosi’s concept, he saw an opportunity.

“I’ve been addicted to yoga for over six years so I am always looking for ways to get other people hooked,” Berger said.

Bendy Brewski instructor Amy Hutcheson said Cosi reached out to her in the early summer to ask what she thought about the concept coming to Memphis.

“She did the first class at High Cotton, and then I took over,” Hutcheson said. “When I first started, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen all walks of people. This can break down the intimidation factor.”

She keeps moving among the participants, walking and observing them during the sessions and slowing things down if she needs to.

“I want to make sure everybody is getting the attention they need,” Hutcheson said. “I hope we can show people how accessible yoga is and encourage them to develop a regular practice. I want people to know it’s fun, and it’s good for your body and good for your mind.”

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