Grapes and chakras: Wineryís yoga class treats mind, body and palate

July 18, 2016

SHARON TOWNSHIP, Ohio ó What kind of wine pairs well with a warrior pose?

All of them, apparently.

At least thatís the case at High & Low Winery, where Yoga & Wine is a Monday evening routine. Yoga aficionados gather there each week for 45 minutes of stretching, strengthening and mind-clearing, followed ó of course ó by a glass of wine.

On a relentlessly warm evening not long ago, I was kind of wishing the wine part came first.

I had agreed to join in a class, sacrificing my less-than-limber body and my dignity for the sake of journalism.

Never mind that I havenít touched my toes since approximately 1987.

Never mind that the thermometer in instructor Amie Applingís car registered 87 on the drive over.

Never mind that the class took place on the wineryís back lawn, in full view of a dozen or so patrons gathered around tables on the patio.

My aging self was on display for all the world to see, and in tights, no less. To the spectators, I can only say Iím sorry.

Still, it wasnít a bad experience. In fact, I kind of liked it. Even without the wine.

Yoga & Wine started shortly after owner Matt Snyder opened the winery in November. It was a big hit pretty much from the start, he said, so the winery has added Yoga & Mimosa on Saturday mornings.

In winter or bad weather the classes meet in the wineryís High Tasting Room, an elegant second-floor space. When itís nice outside, classes move to the lawn below the back patio, where a rock waterfall provides its own sort of soothing background music.

The idea is to work out and then wind down, but the yoga-before-alcohol thing isnít a hard and fast rule. Snyder said at least one class member customarily drinks wine before class.

"And sometimes during," he said.

Much to my surprise, I didnít need any liquid courage. My self-consciousness faded quickly under the encouragement of the impossibly agile Appling.

She coaxed my reluctant limbs into pretzel shapes with names like pigeon and chair and down dog, innocuous terms for demanding positions. But I didnít tear anything, and afterward I realized the nagging twinge in my right hip had disappeared for the rest of the evening.

The class normally draws around 10 to 20 participants, although summer tends to be slower, Snyder said. On this night, the heat apparently kept most of them away. Or maybe it was the fact that Snyder had sent out an email earlier warning people the Akron Beacon Journal would be there that night.

Nothing like the fear of a camera to keep you out of your yoga pants.

The one student resolute enough to withstand the swelter was Snyderís sister, Granger Township, Ohio, resident Rachel Ross. This was Rossí seventh class, and her comfort with both the terminology and the body bending was evident.

The poses she and Appling made look so effortless proved challenging for me. Just bringing my bent knee forward from a downward dog position involved a battle of will as well as anatomy. Rocking back from a kneeling position so my knees lifted off the ground was out of the question. I quavered as I struggled to maintain a simple lunge position with my arms raised overhead, silently praying I wouldnít fall over in front of all those onlookers.

Somehow I managed to make it intact to savasana, which Ross admitted was her favorite part of class. Savasana sounds a whole lot more elegant than its translation, "corpse pose."

You lie on your back, palms up and muscles relaxed. You look like a dead person.

I had no trouble with that.

Who needs wine, anyhow?



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