Beer yoga is the latest trend to dock in Fremantle, but not everyone’s onboard.
After just three months in the port city, small bar Ronnie Nights is facing its first controversy, following what is believed to be Perth’s first ‘beer yoga’ session.
Starting at 10.45am on Sunday, May 20 participants were guided through some basic yoga while enjoying a beer.
Fremantle-based clinical psychologist Rachael O’Byrne warned while the activity could be fun, it may have a dark side.
“While there may be some social benefits from socialising and trying something new, doing yoga and drinking alcohol are at complete odds,” she said.
“Yoga is about getting in touch with your present experience including difficult emotions, and drinking alcohol is often used to avoid the present experience and in particular, difficult emotions.”
Ms O’Byrne’s comments follow growing concerns the city is too reliant on alcohol, after a 2016 Curtin University report found the city’s residents drank around 50 per cent more alcohol than the national average.
Ronnie Nights venue manager Seb Levy said the event was about giving people the choice to do something new, not about consuming alcohol.
“We’re offering this as an experience, and it’d be up to the person whether or not they want to be involved,” he said.
“I don’t think that we’re promoting early morning drinking, we’re offering a beer to be included with the yoga exercise, but we’re not promoting people to get drunk or anything.”
Mr Levy said the event also sought to introduce yoga to a new audience.
“I think the way we wanted to do it was just to add a bit more of a fun element to it,” he said.
“More than just focusing on your breathing, you can focus on having a beer while you’re doing some stretches at the same time.
“It’s also just to add a bit of approachability to yoga, where a lot of people who wouldn’t normally do yoga get the opportunity to take it a little bit less seriously than some and it becomes a lot more appealing I guess.”
Jaccy Martin, owner of Fremantle yoga studio Mala, said any form of yoga was beneficial.
“I think that it’s really good for everyone to experience yoga and to hopefully make it part of their lives,” she said.
“We all have a different pathway to yoga as well, so some people will definitely find that through going to participate in one of these other kinds of non-traditional yoga.
“We believe yoga is a journey, so your starting point is not going to be what you’ll always stick with as you go through your journey.”
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the city encouraged businesses to be innovative.
“We encourage venues to come up with new and imaginative ways to promote themselves and attract more people to Fremantle,” he said.
“Many of the licenced venues we have in Fremantle now promote themselves as either family-friendly or offering a more sophisticated experience which encourages the responsible consumption of alcohol, as opposed to a traditional beer barn.”
Mr Levy said the latter was exactly what Ronnie Nights was aiming for.
“The idea behind Ronnie Nights as a venue was to create much more social interaction with people,” he said.
“The attitude we’ve all had since we’ve opened here was to create that social, accepting and fun environment without just being a place to get smashed.
“We offer a different array of beers and wines and cocktails [and] we use that as a self-filtering mechanism.
“If [people are] looking for the same old alcohol that they’re used to, then they will end up drinking it elsewhere.”