By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
When it comes to yoga, craft beer is not usually the first thing to come to mind.
Yet HomeGrown Brewing at 28 N. Washington, has been hosting a yoga series, suitably called “Bends and Brews,” since before the pandemic began. $15 buys an hour of guided yoga and a pint.
The series resumed this summer – socially distanced and outside in HomeGrown’s patio Sunday mornings, an hour before opening.
“It’s just nice to have some time with people. You have a little physical and mental health. It’s nice to socialize,” said Kelly Marie, a longtime participant.
“It’s about building the community,” said the yoga instructor, Brittni Ummel. “Getting connections with humans, especially in this pandemic, to still be able to see each other and stretch the body and the have a little fun afterwards – that’s the point of doing it, for me.”
They have had to cancel a few times due to weather. Ummel hopes to keep it going as long as possible this year, at least through the end of September.
“HomeGrown is absolutely wonderful. Their staff is wonderful. Their food is wonderful. Their craft beer is wonderful. So I can’t say enough good things about them. And they’ve been gracious to host us.”
Since indoor yoga studios have had to close their doors since March, there’s a population of yoga practitioners looking for a place to go. So instructors like Ummel, owner of B-Yoga Connection, have become creative finding outdoor settings to meet.
Ummel also runs a “Yoga at the Farm” series at Upland Hills CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a working share farm at 2365 Indian Lake Rd.
This series is designed for all ages and abilities, and only costs $5.
“There’s no membership or anything, you just show up,” Ummel said. The best way to RSVP is to click ‘going’ on B-Yoga Connection’s Facebook event.
Ummel teaches “Energy Medicine Yoga” which incorporates energy medicine techniques into a yoga flow. “Yoga is powerful. Energy medicine yoga is that next level, because you’re incorporating your energy system,” she explained. The technique aims to bring nine energy systems in the body into balance.
“For pandemic times it has been honestly a life saver,” said the Iowa native, who moved to Oxford with her then-fiancé (now husband) in 2018.
Ummel first started practicing yoga when she had been dealing with depression in college ten years ago. “Yoga was my savior. It was my outlet. It was this ability to learn to love myself through moving my body and understanding how to quiet my mind. And it was such a transformational process for me.”
In 2016, she became certified yoga teacher after taking a 200-hour course in Costa Rica. She subsequently studied under Lauren Walker, the creator of Energy Medicine Yoga and became a certified Master Energy Medicine Yoga Teacher with an additional certification in EMYoga Rx (personalized EMYoga practices).
Ummel recently partnered with Oxford Township Parks and Recreation to teach yoga at Stony Lake Park on Tuesday evenings. Folks can register at oxparkrec.org or drop-in for $12.
Yoga can also be done on Stony Lake itself with buoyant yoga mats otherwise known as standup paddleboards (SUP).
Jess Dues, who runs Lake Orion-based Pushna Wellness, partnered with Game On Paddleboarding to teach a one-hour beginner paddleboard yoga class. Paddleboards introduce another level of balance to the activity.
Dues explained, “An advantage of outdoor paddleboard yoga is finding balance on many levels, along with a sense of calmness within and bringing an extra challenge into your yoga practice. Really having to focus on breath, awareness and balance on a more in depth level. And just enjoying the all-around ambiance of being in the water surrounded by nature!”