Crash Course: Picture this: It’s 3:00pm on a Thursday. You’ve nearly made it through the week. Your friend texts you with a tempting happy hour proposition BUT you swore to yourself that you’d make that evening yoga class. Happy hour ends at 7:00pm so there is no way you can do both…or can you? Enter Grip the Mat. Flow through an hour long vinyasa session with Christy and Ashley followed by a social hour, complete with wine and cocktails. Finally, a solution to the age-old happy hour vs. workout dilemma![line] [left]where: locations vary by event
bring: water, mat
perks: not having to choose between happy hour and a workout
sweat score: 6 out of 10[/left][right]wear: yoga attire
instructor: Ashley and Christy
class: Vinyasa to Vino
cost: $25 / other events may vary [/right][line]
Things that I love: yoga, yoga pants, wearing yoga pants as regular pants, art galleries, black lights, Thursdays, a glass (or three) of wine, good conversation, and any excuse to #treatyourself. Most days, I only get to enjoy one or two of the above. And rarely do I get to do them all at once. However, a few weeks ago, I got that opportunity. Grip the Mat, the 7-month old brainchild of Ashley Braun and Christy Skarulis, brings together yoga practice, authentic social interactions and beautiful local venues.
In all fairness, this model of providing social opportunities in the context of an organized activity – be it yoga, painting, or cooking lessons – isn’t entirely new. The plethora of Living Social deals come to mind. But don’t let that fool you. Where others fail to foster genuine interaction, Grip the Mat succeeds. It feels luxurious without trying too hard. And above all, it is a kick-ass yoga class.
On this particular rainy Thursday, I made my way to Hierarchy, a secluded contemporary art gallery in DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. In addition to showcasing monthly exhibitions, the gallery serves as a private event space. And for this evening, it was home to Grip the Mat’s monthly Vinyasa to Vino event.
It should be no shock that the venue doesn’t have all the amenities of a typical yoga studio (because it’s not). That being said, I was pleased that there was a place to change if you needed to switch into workout gear, and more than enough room for everyone to store their bags by the bar.
Ashley and Christy co-taught the hour-long vinyasa session. This unique approach was complemented by having one of them direct us and offer hands-on adjustments while the other provided visual aid by practicing on a mat in the middle of the room. As someone who sometimes gets a little lost in following vocal transitions, it was nice to be able to glance up and follow along with an instructor.
You know what else is complementary? Wine to yoga. Or yoga to wine. (Probably best to do the yoga first, unless you have realllly supreme balancing skills). After class ended, we were treated to wine tastings, KIND bars, and an in-house DJ. No complaints here.
In chatting with some of the other ladies there, I learned that one group came as a surprise for their friend’s birthday. Another group signed-up to celebrate finishing an exam. That’s the great thing about Grip the Mat. It may not be designed to be your weekly go-to practice spot, but if you need a birthday/engagement/promotion/post-break-up/end-of-favorite-tv-series/fancy-Wednesday activity, this is definitely the place.
You can find a schedule of Grip the Mat’s upcoming events here. They include fun selections like Bendy Brunch, Soul and Spirits (cocktails and blacklight yoga), Mantras and Martinis, and Balance and Brews. Tickets are on sale for the next Vinyasa to Vino on Wednesday, March 18th!
BIG thank you to Grip the Mat for hosting me!
Grip the Mat professional photos via.