NAMASTE & CHEERS: Aurora, brewery join forces for yoga-and-beer events

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AURORA | Yoga pants are good for more than just providing comfort during downward-facing dog.

They’re useful for accommodating a tummy brimming with craft-brewed suds, too.

And for an expanding crop of both veteran and first-time yogis, the City of Aurora has teamed up with a local watering hole to create an experience that allows attendees to get both aforementioned uses out of their favorite stretchy pants in one outing.

This summer, the city partnered with Dry Dock Brewing Company to develop a series of yoga classes that take place inside the brewery’s flagship outpost at 15120 E. Hampden Ave. For $8 in advance or $10 at the door, participants are able to stretch, breathe and detox beside stacks of oak barrels teeming with well-fermented grain. A makeshift studio is set up once a month in the brewery’s figurative Rhineland between the taproom and the adjacent home-brew enterprise, The Brew Hut.

“It’s kind of cool because you’re doing yoga and you have the beer barrels stacked up right next to you along the wall,” said Tony Yang, recreation supervisor of fitness for the city. “It’s a really nice setting.”

Yang helped develop the program last summer alongside Lanae Felice, fitness program coordinator with the city, who decided to pursue a partnership with Dry Dock after reading about similar offerings at other breweries across the Front Range.

“I was reading a magazine and I saw that a lot of breweries are doing these yoga classes now — there are a couple in Fort Collins and Boulder — so I thought that it would be a really cool thing for (Aurora) to do, too,” Felice said.

Simply titled “Yoga and Beer,” the program experienced early success when more than 25 people showed up to the first class last Halloween. Yang said that the sessions have already switched from a quarterly basis to monthly in order to meet unexpectedly high demand.

“And we’re getting calls from other businesses that are trying to create and host similar social fitness events as well,” Yang said. “Nothing is official yet, but there is a lot of interest based on this one class. It’s kind of caught fire in the neighborhood.”

At the most recent class at Dry Dock on Jan. 16, many of the 22 attendees, who were largely first-time yogis, raved about the setting and temperate pace set by Brittany Otter, a yoga instructor with the city.

“While I was doing it I was thinking, ‘Can I get into an afternoon session?’ It felt so good,” said Mara Whitfield, a Denver resident who schlepped to Aurora for her first-ever yoga class with her roommate, Tricia Hirsch. “I could really feel it in my circulatory system and I felt a lot longer than I normally do.”

The new partnership with Dry Dock is part of the city’s recently rejuvenated effort to double down on its slew of available fitness programs. A table in the back of the temporary yoga studio at the brewery was littered with fliers for upcoming classes ranging from boot camps catered to the New Years resolution crowd, to more exotic offerings like a Brazilian Booty Barre.

“We’re really focused on creating social fitness classes where we meet up as a group and have a bit of a celebration afterward to try and make it fun and different,” Yang said.

The participating yogis at Dry Dock received 15 percent off pints immediately following the class, which ends shortly after 11 a.m.

Breweries such as Dry Dock are natural hosts for community gatherings like yoga sessions and art classes, according to Kevin DeLange, who co-founded Dry Dock with Michelle Redding more than 10 years ago.

“I think people find beer as a unifying interest, so they think of other things they like to do — whether it’s yoga or working out or painting — and then they tie it into their local brewery,” DeLange said. “It creates a gathering place and sense of community and I think that’s why we see people reaching out to form these kinds of partnerships.”

Going forward, Yang said that residents should look for more city-sponsored fitness offerings in unexpected places like Dry Dock. He plans to bolster offerings across Aurora’s many public parks with Tai Chi sessions, sunrise yoga and organized walking groups.

“We’re really trying to make partnerships through the city with other enterprises like Dry Dock,” Yang said.

In the immediate future, Yang is spearheading another effort to update a cache of fitness equipment at the Expo Recreation Center, which he said should be complete by mid-February. The city also recently began a massive overhaul of the Moorhead Recreation Center, and has additional plans to construct a new $30-million recreation center in the next three to five years, according to Felice.

The next yoga session at Dry Dock is scheduled for Feb. 13.