Yoga without wine just isn’t yoga

I’m sure you’ve seen people on the street dressed in leggings carrying a yoga mat on their way to a class. I’ve never understood this. Sure, no one wants to wear rented bowing shoes. But a yoga mat? Isn’t it like gym equipment you wipe down and leave behind? My suspicion is that yoga people want everyone to know that they can connect body parts that most people have trouble reaching in the shower. Carrying your mat around is the membership card for this unique tribe.

I’m not in the yoga tribe. I have two yoga mats given to me by friends, but as far as I can tell, they are just pink versions of the gym mats I remember from high school. I own shorts and t-shirts from lululemon but I use them to lift weights and do intervals. I’m more of a run, climb, jump and swim kinda guy. Another reason I know I’m not in the yoga tribe is my dislike for blended drinks that include vegan protein and kale. Given the choice, I will always choose a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino over a smoothie called “Green Enlightenment”. Everyone knows enlightenment comes from grapes.

Last year on the island of Salina where I have my summer home, I saw a promotional flyer for an event called ‘Yoga Wine’ at a fabulous resort called the Signum. My brain processed ‘wine’ before I noticed that the word ‘yoga’ had been pre-pended. Once my brain had both words uncomfortably computed I rationalised that any event that included ‘wine’ couldn’t be all bad. Images of earnest people on mats were replaced with thoughts of altogether new yoga poses that would allow you to balance a glass of wine while contorting your body. Could the Happy Baby Pose involve a light Beaujolais or a more robust Nero d’Avola?

I was tempted to signup immediately, but there was no way I could go on my own. What if the ‘wine’ portion of the event was a party bag on the way out after two hours of humming. I turned to the only person I could convince to attend. My daughter Lindsay. As a third year university student used to drinking wine from a box, grunting through some yoga for a decent glass of wine was a trade-off worth making.

Lindsay and I turned up on time and there didn’t appear to be any other participants. You know that awful feeling when you’re the only person signed up for an improv comedy show that requires audience participation? It was like that. As it turned out, the other participants were about 30 minutes late, so Lindsay and I made awkward conversation with the yoga instructor while we scanned the outdoor space for any hopeful signs: corkscrews, stemware, or wine bottles. Nothing.

Apparently, we had to get through the yoga to access the wine. The two weren’t co-mingled. In retrospect I can see how that would have been a bad idea. Wine has not generally helped my sense of balance after a few glasses. If they had tried to do the yoga and tasting simultaneously they would have served the wine in plastic cups which would have been tragic. For the wine.

When the class finally started, I had strategically chosen a spot close to the instructor so that I could hear, but off to the side so that anyone looking at the instructor wouldn’t see me teetering on the verge of a hospital visit. I also figured that her end of the space was where they would eventually bring out the wine, and I wanted to be close. I was going to need it.

As the instructor calmly took us through breathing and stretching I began to relax. “I can do this!” Then things got harder, a lot harder. My Italian yoga vocabulary is pretty limited so I needed to keep an eye on the instructor to keep from looking like the out-of-sync nerd at an aerobics class. The problem is that when your head is between your legs and you’re counting clouds how the heck do you see the instructor? Occasionally I would glance over at Lindsay for guidance but I think she was just as lost as me. Who knows what new poses I invented doing this.

When it was all over, Lindsay and I were ready for the wine tasting and food pairing. We were served a wonderful range of Sicilian wines, each with a different food prepared by the award-winning chef at the Signum, Martina Caruso.

I will go again this year. But I might arrive a little late.


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