How To Balance a Healthy Lifestyle with Yoga and Wine


Yoga class? Oh, I thought you said, “Pour a glass.”


Considering my blog is all about yoga and wine, I cannot believe this wasn’t my first post! Nonetheless, here it is.​There is currently a trending idea of mixing wine, beer or other alcohol with yoga. You may have heard of classes like, “Glass after Class”, “Beer Yoga”, or “Downward Drinking Dog”. Besides the obviously clever names, it’s revolutionizing the way we look at a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Fifteen years ago, the general consensus of yoga was that it placed restrictions on what healthy is: no meat, no alcohol, no caffeine. I remember many years ago going to a Detox class with a highly disciplined yoga teacher who said she could “smell the meat” oozing off of the practitioners in the room. I swear she said this as she was passing by me, which totally brought heat to my cheeks.

I get why there is restriction. The concept of the 8 Limbs of Yoga leads us to ultimate Samadhi. Samadhi is considered the final stage, at which union with the divine is reached through intense meditation. Ironically, the term Samadhi also refers to a tomb, so it may be best not to take it too seriously. Nonetheless, in order to achieve Samadhi, one must experience the 8 Limbs of Yoga (Asana/Pose being one of them). And if your tummy’s acting funny from the toxins you’re putting inside of it, there sure isn’t a way to feel those higher vibes in meditation. You know what I mean?

That said, I would argue that yoga is no longer reserved only to those who have the intention of achieving Samadhi. That pretty much went out the window when western culture modernized it. Perhaps some of you are pulling your hair out at this claim but, I would sincerely ask you to take a step back and relax. There is room in this world for all of us to practice yoga in our own way; whether it be to reach Samad-hi or to reach an awesome Bo-dy (see what I did there?!). We all get to “own” yoga in our own way. Yoga can take on any meaning we want it to. You stay on your mat, and I’ll stay on mine.

With this theory in mind, let us consider the concept of combining activities that appear to be polar opposites. A wine glass on a yoga mat is going to get knocked over. It’s that simple. If you’re seeing a person on Insta posing with a beer glass in their hand while in Dancer’s Pose well, 1) to each their own but, 2) that doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience to me. Drinking makes me tipsy physically and, I have no business practicing yoga and drinking wine at the same time.

I love my yoga practice to be a sober experience. I approach my mat with respect for the body I am in, the studio I am practicing in, and the teacher that is spending their time to help me further my yoga practice.

Similarly, I approach drinking wine with respect for the body I am in, the winery that provided the bottle of wine, and the friends around me that are spending their time to help me further my drinking practice.

Sort of funny. But true!
​​
I look at these two activities as separate but equal experiences. In the right moderation (for both), these activities help ease stress, enhance social connections, and increase relaxation.

​Here are my Top 3 How-To’s on how you can find a balanced lifestyle between being active (I will call it yoga but, if it’s different for you, then edit the wording in your mind) and drinking (I will call it wine, but you know what to do).

Pairing Wine and Yoga at the Same Time is a No-No
It may be funny for a picture to appear like you are drinking wine while doing yoga but, I don’t actually recommend the act. Here’s why: (1) Drinking inhibits your inner balance. Yoga poses can be trickier while drinking, leading to injury. (2) Yoga requires a warm-up so that your body is ready to enter into advanced postures. If you’re drinking, you’re more than likely not warmed up. Your inhibitions are also lowered, and you may be willing to test advanced postures that you aren’t warmed up for or worse, haven’t tried before. Hello, injury!

First Practice Yoga, then Drink the Wine
Practicing yoga burns the calories needed in order to drink a glass of wine, free of guilt. For instance, Power yoga burns around 300 calories per hour for a 130-pound person! That’s actually two glasses of wine (shh…). Or drink one glass and use the other half to eat some chocolate! Win, win.

​Plan a Night of it!
Plan a lady’s night or a couple’s night out! Visit a local studio in your area, and then head to a nearby restaurant for some yummy food and wine. A good yoga practice relaxes you and lifts away distractions, hence actually enhancing your senses. Colors and tastes are actually thought to be more distinct after a yoga class. Cool, huh? Talk about a great date!


A balanced lifestyle of being active and drinking can actually be very healthy. Making sure to mindfully choose moderation with both activities, you truly can maintain a lifestyle that lets you have your cake. And drink it, too.  ​​

3 Amazing Yoga Videos Guaranteed to Ease Shoulder Tension

A friend of mine recently reached out to ask if I could give him a few yoga stretches to help with back, neck and shoulder relief (shoutout to Kolby!). It came right after I took this phenomenal Yin Yoga class, so I’m all about the slow stretch feels right now. I of course answered with “Heck yes, I’ll create a blog post all about this!

That said, it actually got me thinking about all the amazing resources we have nowadays online. How we have a fantastic community of likeminded people creating and developing resources to help other people out. So, instead of creating my own video or photos this week (dare I say, reinvent the wheel?!), I decided to support my community and give shoutouts to those who have come before me by giving you a link to their videos.

I have added these based on timing (from 32 minutes to 8 minutes), so you can pick and choose based on the amount of time you have available in your busy day.

1) 32-minute visual and audio yoga class for shoulders and back

2) 17-minute audio and visual yoga class for neck and shoulder relief

3) 8-minute full yoga tutorial for neck and shoulder tension

What It’s Like to be a Power Living Yoga Studio Manager

With Courtney Nault of Power Living Studios

It’s a crisp, fresh morning in the heart of Manly Beach, a beach town residing just a 15-minute ferry ride from Sydney’s CBD. I’m excited for my first interview with Courtney Nault, studio manager and yogi-extraordinaire.

The best yoga studios are the ones where you walk in and feel like you’re already home; when the people behind the desk greet you like an old friend, and remember your name when you return. And that is exactly what I’ve experienced at Power Living. Founded in 2004 by Duncan Peak, the studio was the first of its kind, solely teaching Vinyasa flow yoga. Since then, they’ve established 9 studios, one being in Manly and managed soulfully by Courtney Nault herself.

A traveler at heart, Massachusetts’ born Nault has been “on the road” since 2008. When we sat down to chat, she was actually celebrating her 2-year anniversary of moving to Manly Beach. Her fiancé is an Australian and actually from Manly, so it seemed only fitting they would choose this place as their home. For now.

In what can only be considered a blessing too sweet to surpass, it was Power Living Studio that inspired Nault to plant roots in Manly. In fact, it was one of her very first stops after flying into the Sydney airport two years ago.

Of course, this is because Nault is an avid yogi. She joined her first yoga class in San Diego, and was instantly hooked. All over the world she has practiced and taught. Prior to Australia, she was teaching yoga to children in Thailand. And when she arrived in Manly Beach, Power Living seemed to just be waiting for her.

​“The day I moved here, it was so cold and rainy. had moved from Phuket, where it was the warmest of warm water, and the bluest skies. I was so unhappy. I probably Googled flights home at least twice a day, considering going back. I walked into the studio. It was a really busy class, and they said to come back when you’re ready to practice. The next morning, I had jet lag and woke up at 5am. So, I went to a class, with the studio manager teaching. She was so pleasant and I absolutely loved her. If I hadn’t found that connection with people, that search for the flight home would have become an actual booked flight home.” – Courtney Nault

Over the course of her two years at Power Living, she has taken her 200-Hr teacher certification, and now become studio manager. Truly her home, she finds she has to remind herself to stay away on her days off… Or at least not start in on her To Do list when she comes in for a practice.And what a To Do list Nault has right now. Getting married in San Diego later this year, she is planning a long-distance wedding, running a yoga studio with 2,000 bodies per week, and in her free time spending time training at a local gymnastics studio, rock climbing, spending time in the kitchen baking, and keeping up with her own yoga practice. Oh, and spending time with her fiancé, of course.

Q: What is it like to run a studio that is as busy as Power Living Manly?

A: I mean, it’s amazing. I walk into that studio every day with a huge smile on my face. I feel so grateful to be there. But at the same time, I have to step back because I get caught up in the littlest things. It’s so good, because for me it was the change I wanted. When I went for this job, I was teaching the same lessons to kids (7 classes per day) and it felt a bit monotonous. And then I get here and there is no monotony. You have to let it go that you know what’s going to happen any given day. While also having a skeleton to work from.
To compare, I was going to a studio in Thailand for three years; it was a very boutique studio. ​You practiced on their mats; there were two towels rolled up on each mat, they mopped the floor and mats between each class because they had only four classes per day on their schedule. So, in contrast, when I first started working at Power Living, there was a To Do list with essentially tasks every 15 minutes, because your time flies by here and there is just so much going on.Sometimes I’ll get in at noon and I teach the 8pm class, and I’ll look at the time and think, “How is it already 5 o’clock?” There are days when you are so busy, you have to be OK with that, knowing that you have the same thing coming at you tomorrow.​

Q: Had you worked in a yoga studio prior to this?

A: No. I did property management back in the States, and I worked at a camp. But this was my first studio job.

Q: Are you responsible for retaining new clients, and how do you do so? 

A: Essentially the first time a person walks into that studio, it can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never practiced yoga. Everyone seems to already know what they’re doing. My job as studio manager is to prepare the educators [the people at the front desk] to make that first visit as smooth as possible.
So, they come on a buddy pass. They come in with a friend, or they do a drop-in. Most teachers are really good at connecting with them after to see how it went. I always recommend a Level 1 class to someone who’s never practiced yoga. After that, we educate the new person by telling them about our intro pass (1 month unlimited for $49 AUD). It’s important they know it takes about 10 yoga classes to really know what you’re doing.We call them after about a week to see how they are doing, and make sure they know their options. If they’re on an intro pass, we like to check in about half way through and look at the classes they’ve done. Have they tried the vinyasa and the yin classes? The balance between them is so important. And some people get stuck on Level 1 classes, but there are not as many Level 1 classes on our schedule. So, we like to encourage them to attend a Level 2, letting them know it’s not that scary!So, that’s what we are doing to make people become more committed; to acknowledge people for practicing yoga. Because that’s really what I want. I just want more people practicing yoga, because I know what it does for you.I’m part of someone’s first class through their intro until they’re members. I have people that have been members since I started, and I’ve watched their practice and confidence evolve. To be a part of someone’s change like that, that’s why I’m here, that’s why I do it. To support it and witness it.​

​Q:
 Do you have goals you have to hit as a studio manager?
A: We have goals like any successful growing business. In order to keep the business and community growing, the goals are there to get people doing more yoga.
It’s interesting because in the fitness industry, it is becoming more buffet style. That’s why we offer the new freedom pass. It allows a no-contract but unlimited practice. You can cancel at any time with a 14-day notice. With that pass, it allows people to feel less stuck to one studio. We also offer the 10-class pass. A few years ago, a membership was the only ​option, and our targets were based on that. But like ​anything, you have to evolve and make sure the people we are serving are getting what they need.

Q: ​How do you balance your many hats?

A: Whenever I’m about to switch roles from studio manager to yoga teacher for example, I have a really awesome coach who once told me, “Do something. Whether or not it’s going upside down for a minute, or going in the back room and taking three mindful breaths, do something to switch off.” So that’s something I’m working on. It’s going really well.For me, the way I balance it is having support in those different aspects. For example, I have the person that helps me with my teaching and sits me down and holds me accountable there. I have the regional manager that helps me with my studio manager role. Etc.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach?
A: It’s probably my Level 1 class. There are people that have been practicing yoga for years, and some that are stepping into class for their very first time.
For me, the classes are challenging in the sense I need to make sure everyone is practicing yoga for longevity, and not bringing harm on themselves. It’s a class to dive deep, and find out what they’re confused about in their practice. It’s very much about getting them into their body so they feel aware enough to advance to a Level 2 class. To watch someone evolve, it’s awesome!

Q: I read in your profile that your favorite pose is Ardha Chandrasana [half moon] pose. Would you still stay that is your favorite?
A: For me, that pose is the most expansive you can get your body while still staying grounded. Whenever a teacher says, “Open to Ardha Chandrasana,” I’m like yes! I get as big as I can, sometimes even forgetting the alignment! You can sort of turn off in other poses. But for me in Ardha Chandrasana, I’m there, ever present.

Q: How do you connect with your fiancé with your busy schedule?

A: He unfortunately tends to be the one that suffers the most. Because I commit to all these things! But he always says, “Go ahead, Court.” He’s definitely the most understanding. He won’t fire me. I like to be busy, but he also knows when to call me out. “Court, slow down… Stop doing your 6am trainings when you’re teaching until 10pm.”  I also come home and find he has made my lunch and dinner. He’s amazing.We love to travel together. We went to Canberra this past weekend. There’s more things like that, like planning a wedding. That in itself is hanging out!

Q: Is drinking alcohol a part of your lifestyle?

A: I don’t drink a lot but when I do, I get really excited! I love live music. There’s something amazing about having a craft beer while watching live music. I’m flirting with wine. In the States, I never would drink wine. I had red wine once and I put ice in it and Greg was like, “You can’t do that. You just drink it room temperature.” OK… So, I don’t drink wine much. When I go out, I usually order beer because it’s bigger and lasts longer!What truly inspires me about Nault is her unequivocal desire to create a strong community. When asked if she would consider being featured for my blog, there was absolutely no hesitation and in fact managed to compliment me and my blog on her quick reply. She thrives on supporting and uplifting the community that surrounds her, making her a truly fantastic studio manager and wonderful person, from the inside out.
I love the support I have from the other yoga teachers. Our teachers are amazing, and they see you. There can be up to 60 people in a room, but they’re still looking. They’re teaching for longevity, and not just for the moment. We have the head office in Manly studio. It’s amazing to watch the marketing team do what they’re doing, and the programs team do what they’re doing.”  – Courtney Nault
From her bright smile to her funky spirit, Nault is truly a treasure on and off the mat.

How to Host a Seriously Amazing Yoga Wine Night

Doing yoga and drinking wine is pretty much all I ever really want to do. How about you?! So if you’re looking for a fun and unique party idea for you and your pals, how about hosting a yoga and wine party? Here’s how:
Choose a Venue for the Yoga

Figure out how many yoga guests will be attending the event. You will need about 2 square meters (or 21 square feet) per yoga guest. For instance, if you have 10 guests coming, you will want to find a place that has about 20 square meters of space. 

It’s best if the space is void of big obstructions such as walls or columns, as this can affect the way mats are set up and how sound travels. 

Venue ideas include: outdoor areas such as backyards, beaches, parks with grassy areas, and yoga studios. Oftentimes, yoga studios will be happy to rent out their space (especially a second studio space) if they don’t have a class going on at that time. 

Once you have chosen a venue idea, make sure to double check rules and regulations and make sure you abide and agree to them.

Choose a Venue for Drinking the Wine​

Ideally you would practice yoga, then drink wine at the same venue! But this isn’t always the case. Regulations placed on drinking in public areas for instance, could affect where you can drink wine legally.

Drinking wine in one’s home is probably your best bet. Have everyone pack up their mats and head to your place!

Check out local bars and restaurants! Consider making reservations and asking about large party options such as fixed or open wine bar, depending on how much you want to spend!

Choose a Yoga Instructor

Most yoga instructors would love to be hired for a private event! Why? Because they will (more than likely) make more than when they teach a studio class. And it’s arguably more fun!

Reach out to yoga instructors via social media (check Instagram and Facebook) or search by Google Maps. Reach out to 5+ instructors, so you can choose. Be sure to tell them the date and time of your event, the amount you would like to pay them (anywhere between $75 and $150 for an hour-long yoga session is pretty standard), and be sure to double check they already have yoga instruction insurance.

Once you choose a yoga instructor, make sure to sign a contract with them. This holds them responsible, as much as it holds you responsible for the event.

Ask if they would like your guests to sign a liability waiver. If so, ask the yoga instructor to bring X quantity to the event to distribute and collect.

Invite Your Guests! ​

I am a sucker for snail mail invites. If you are too, think about doing something custom! Evites are also great, because they are so efficient.

Make sure to include an RSVP date so that you can account for all guests attending!

Favours for your guests ​

No party is complete without fun (Instagram-worthy) favours, right? A couple ideas would be to have a wine glass or tank  designed for the event!

BYO Mats and Props ​

Let your guests know that they will need to bring their own mats and props of choice. You could also ask the yoga instructor if he or she has any extra mats to bring along. They may charge you a rental fee for these, FYI.

Check the Wine Count​

You should plan for 2 glasses (or ½ bottle) per guest (some will drink more, and some will drink less). Consider getting a mix of White, Red, and Rose, depending on the time of year. Winter I recommend going red-heavy, summer I recommend going equal parts White and Rose. Wondering what varietals I love the most? Just ask!

Games to Play ​

No party is complete without conversation starters. So how about considering games to play that relate to wine?

Have Water and Snacks Ready! ​

Yoga and drinking wine both can be dehydrating and energy burning! Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks available to your guests! Consider filling a pitcher of water with one of these fancy additions.

And Have an Amazing Time, of Course!

Have you hosted a yoga and wine night? Have any additional tips or have any questions? Comment below to help build the Balance + Vine community!

An Interview with a Nurse and Yoga Teacher Expat Living in Australia

When you move to a new home (whether it be a new country, city, zip code, neighborhood, yoga studio, fill-in-the-blank), establishing a community can be so important. It helps ease the newness when you meet people who share like-minded values. For me, moving to Australia from America, I was determined to meet a community that loves practicing yoga. I also wanted to meet friends that love to relax and drink wine on the weekends. It really was one of the main reasons I created this blog, in the hopes that it would attract to me a community with similar values.

I’ve been lucky enough to say I have already met a remarkable community of like-minded individuals, and the community just keeps expanding. One of my favorites would have to be Carly Rockwood. A Canadian-born expat residing in Sydney, Australia for the past two years, Carly and I met at a festival called Taste of Manly (think lots of food and lots of wine). The first words out of her mouth were telling our mutual friend about a gymnastics studio she’s been going to. I was immediately taken! If you don’t know this tidbit about me, I was a gymnast for the first 14 years of my life. I only quit because it got too competitive and time-consuming.

But I am a gymnast at heart, and crave any opportunity to cartwheel, handstand or back walkover.

In the bout of just 15 minutes, we discovered our mutual love of yoga (both of us being yoga instructors, too!), and made plans for a yoga date that same weekend. And we’ve been hanging out ever since. Over yoga and wine, we’ve bonded and grown to be fast friends. Of course, I couldn’t resist interviewing and snapping photos of her beautiful yoga practice for my blog.

What would you say is your favorite thing about yoga?

I feel like it’s home. I get on my mat, and I feel immediate relief. Anything else is going on in the world, I can forget about it for that length of time. The good feeling that it brings to my life, and keeps me grounded.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I went to my first class when I was 17. The studio in my hometown had yoga classes on Friday night, so sporadically my friends and I would go to Hot Yoga and sweat it all out. When I was 21 and graduated University, the same studio had a free month offering for nurses and doctors and I joined. I became completely hooked.

What do you think it was about yoga that got you hooked?

Ever since I was really young, I was a very anxious child. It got really bad when I was 10, to the point I wouldn’t hang out with anyone outside of just a couple friends. If I was in an unfamiliar situation, I would have panic attacks. In that day and age, nobody was taking those habits too seriously. My parents at the time didn’t really understand it, and didn’t know to get me help. At one point when I was in high school, it got really bad. I felt really bad for my parents. Thankfully some of my friends supported me and helped me get back on the right track. In my second year of University, I had a terrible breakdown and asked for help when I was 19. I was on medication for years, going to therapy. When I was 21, I found yoga. I realized how much it was helping me, and I actually was able to go off medication. Yoga helps you find different coping mechanisms; knowing that we are in control of our own emotions. Now whenever I’m feeling out of sorts, I just turn to my mat.I would highly recommend yoga to anyone, who is feeling any sort of anxiety, depression or body issues.

What connections have you made through yoga?

It brings you a community of like-minded people all over the world. I have friends in so many countries because of yoga. And everyone is really nice.

How often do you practice yoga?

Daily. At the studio, or at home.

Where did you get your teacher training at?

I did it back home in 2014, through the Olive Tree Yoga Foundation. My good friend Paul was one of Baron Baptiste’s assistants and ran a training in my home town, London, Ontario. The Foundation was started by him and his ex-wife to bring yoga to Palestine, running teacher trainings within refugee camps. I was an ambassador for them, and when Paul started a sister foundation called True North Yoga Foundation in Canada, I did work with them in Indigenous communities in Canada assisting with teacher trainings and doing yoga with the children.

Did you choose to teach yoga after going through your yoga teacher training?

I taught the kids through the True North Yoga Foundation and taught a little bit at a yoga studio back home in Canada. I do like teaching, but at this moment I like to be a student more. I want to continue to be a student and grow and learn more before I get back into teaching. Right now, I would love to learn more about the philosophy of yoga so I can bring more philosophy to my classes.

Do you see yourself advancing your teaching through more teacher training?

I would love to do a yin yoga teacher training and learn more about that style of teaching. Also, I have a goal to go to India in 2018 for a month or two, and just live in an ashram and deepen my meditation and practice. A little bit of Eat, Pray, Love. [laughs]

How do you live a balanced lifestyle?

Well, it’s getting better [laughs]. When I lived in Canada, I was a lot more balanced. When I moved here, social life [in Manly] is so easy because you live close to your friends. You could hang out with friends every night of the week if you want. I think it’s about setting priorities. I know if I don’t practice yoga, after even just three days, I notice a difference in my mental health.

What would you say is your favorite yoga pose?

I don’t know if I have a favorite, to be honest. I like yoga poses that challenges me. Like right now, it would be forearm balance. Because I can’t really hold it for long right now but, I’m trying so hard to get it. Since starting practicing gymnastics, my shoulders have gotten stronger and I’ve been holding it longer!My go-to party trick pose would have to be King Pigeon [laughs].

So, have you ever done drunk yoga?

Uh-huh. Hasn’t everyone?! [laughs] I also have done the worm at parties [cringe face]. I guess I wouldn’t recommend drunk yoga for everyone…