A video has gone viral online where participants are seen practicing what is called ‘Beer Yoga’. The video has sparked much outrage online from people who claim that the ancient Hindu practice has been diluted and distorted by the practitioners.
People on the internet are definitely not happy about the whole affair.
#Yoga is for feeling good without any such chemical substances.— मिलन (@shrinivas_pande) April 4, 2021
During Asanas- body release certain fluids- putting #Beer etc- starts a battle in body & harms it.@MoHFW_INDIA must take action on this- they are damaging people's health & also the great practice of Yoga. https://t.co/nuKa1t3qzx
Failed attempt at cultural appropriation by west.— Shawan Dey (@dey_shawan) April 4, 2021
They are reluctant to practice true yoga with shlokas and mantras as they fear attraction of Goras towards Sanatan Dharma.
So,this is how they destroy it. https://t.co/CoZgHyA0Lh
You should not be drinking fluids WHILE working out, especially alcohol ones.— ꯃꯥꯀꯨ (@porbotialora) April 4, 2021
These people will be having a lot of health issues 10 years from now. https://t.co/iOc6FT93KB
The video in question is not recent. It was shared by Curly Tales on its YouTube channel in July 2017. The video has captions that say ‘Om Chug Chug’ and ‘Yo-ga to try this!’
It isn’t precisely clear where and how, or why for that matter, the Beer Yoga was developed. But it is believed that it was popularised by Germany based BierYoga which has been conducting sessions of the same since 2016.
Their official website says, “BeerYoga is the marriage of two great loves – beer and yoga. Both are centuries-old therapies for body, mind and soul. The joy of drinking beer and the mindfulness of yoga compliment each other, and make for an energizing experience.”
“BeerYoga is fun but it’s no joke – we take the philosophies of yoga and pair it with the pleasure of beer-drinking to reach your highest level of consciousness,” it adds. BierYoga claims that Beer Yoga is for “Yogis who like beer”.
Some ‘Indologists’ appear to endorse the practice. Dr James Mallinson, a senior lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical Indian Civilisation at SOAS University of London, said that a precedence for ‘absolutely anything’ can be found in the Yoga tradition.
“The foundational texts of yoga, the yoga sutras, only mention seated postures for meditation. And even texts that list lots of postures find the one that works best are ones you must hold for hours on end so you can still your mind. It’s not really about the body but about the mind,” he said.
“It’s such a big multifarious tradition you can find precedence for almost anything,” he added. But he did say that he is skeptical of ‘modern updates’ to the Yoga tradition.
While we are not sure precisely who brought the Beer Yoga to India, MYOLO and HobbMobb organised a session of the same on the 22nd of July, 2017. It was conducted at the Rabbit Hole, Hauz Khas, Delhi.
The description of the event said, “This is an event for everyone obsessed with fitness and would love to try challenging asanas like balancing your body on one leg or in a tree position with a bottle of beer on your head. You could go with a friend or alone, the event begins at 4 in the evening, yes, yoga doesn’t mean getting up at 6 in the morning only. You don’t have to be a yoga addict or a pro at it, just go and grab your favourite bear and move a bit of your belly to feel refreshed.”
About the practice itself, it said, “Beer yoga gained worldwide popularity this year encouraging people to choose yoga to relish their favourite pint of beer without any guilt. The trick of the yoga experts is to keep the practitioners motivated, focused and make the workout session full of challenging yoga positions and exercises.”
The trend appears to be far more widespread than the Indians outraging on social media appear to believe. Numerous articles with headlines such as “Beer Yoga is popping up all over the world, combining asanas and alcohol” are available on the internet.
However, not everyone in the West appears excited about the prospect. A blog on the official website of the Indiana University is extremely critical of the practice and offers reasoning that would resonate with the masses in India.
The blog said, “The perception that beer and yoga complement each other arises from the misconception that yoga is designed to please the personality. Spiritual practices, including yoga, are designed to help you experience what exists when you’re not the personality. The moment you alter a spiritual practice to please the personality, that practice becomes corrupt.”
“Trying to make yoga more fun or exciting is a sign that you’ve lost sight of yoga’s true purpose. Adding beer to your yoga routine is the ego’s way of saying, “stay asleep just a little while longer”,” it added.
It went further to assert, “Yoga is an avenue to experience life beyond distraction, to make distraction irrelevant. Maya – the principle of illusion – is constantly singing her lullaby in various forms – one form being “Beer Yoga.” If you want to avoid illusion, stick with traditional, unmodified yoga.”
Apart from such reasons, the blog also flags other health reasons such as the fact that it might end up being a way for alcoholics to justify their alcoholism and that a stomach full of liquid makes Yoga more difficult. Fitness experts appear to be of the same opinion.
“After hot yoga and aerial yoga, its beer yoga that has come up. It’s just another method to get new customers into yoga. The only thing it does is that it offers you a break from your routine workout. There is no health benefit to it. Imagine doing a Surya Namaskar and sipping beer ! Sounds ridiculous! This practice is for people who love beer and are not into fitness. No doubt you will enjoy this practice, but you will also pile on the pounds and get that beer belly you want to avoid,” said Ashish Gupta.
Amaresh Ojha, another fitness expert, stated, “It’s another marketing gimmick to make yoga popular and get people into it. It’s contradictory. Yoga is supposed to increase your consciousness, whereas, drinking beer lowers it. Alcohol makes you sleepy. And you are suppose to do yoga on an empty stomach.”
Thus, while Beer Yoga is being marketed as a fancy gimmick, it might not in people’s best interests to try it out.