When you think of yoga, you pretty much think of a health and wellness. Yoga is all about getting your body fit and your mind straight. It’s also about being flexible, and for a lot of people there’s a zen aspect.
It was seven years ago when Cheryl Erbacher and Jocelyn Kowalczyk (lead image L-R) came together to start HEAL Bflo. Right out of the gate, they decided that Buffalo was prime for a yoga retreat. The initial retreat was so successful that they hung their hats on the concept for a few years. But as time went on, they got the itch to change things up. So they got together to talk about the future of yoga, as they were both heavily into it and wanted to offer more things to more people.
It was Kowalczyk who turned to Erbacher and said, “I don’t like the volleyball league that I’m in – there should be a bar league for yoga.”
That’s when it clicked. Why wasn’t there a bar league for yoga? After all, the bar aspect is a great way to socialize after a workout. So Erbacher went online to research yoga bar leagues, and lo and behold, there was no such thing. The two began to ask around, and it turned out that there were others out there who were interested in the concept. Before long Erbacher and Kowalczyk were in the midst of strategizing what the league would look like… how it would behave. That was over a year ago.
Eight week sessions: Four weeks – four venues – four yoga studios – and then do it all again.
These days, the yoga bar league has become so popular that each eight week session (every Wednesday) sells out within three days. The yogis attribute the success of the league to a number of things, but they mainly feel that what makes each event different is the venue.
You see, HEAL Bflo doesn’t have a brick and mortar home, meaning that they have to team up with venues-of-interest, such as Central Rock Gym for example. That’s where they held their last class. And to make things even more interesting, they team up with other yoga studios/yoga instructors around Buffalo to teach the classes. That means that for eight weeks straight, there are different venues, different instructors, and different types of yoga. Then there’s the “après yoga”. After each 45 minute yoga session, the class breaks out to conduct a fun activity associated with the host venue. For example, if the yoga session is held at Central Rock Gym, everyone goes rock climbing! Then, since Resurgence Brewery is located nearby, the yogi-climbers meet up for a beer (or wine or cocktail) afterwards. It’s a great way to get to know Buffalo. It’s also a great way to meet new people. And ultimately, it’s a way to have fun, get in shape, and celebrate with a social (a happy hour).
The sixth season of HEAL Bflo Bar League gets underway this coming October. If you’re looking to join up with a new type of fitness league, this could be for you. You never know… one day you might be doing Hatha and rock climbing, another day you might be doing Bikram and trapeze at The Bird’s Nest. “One thing is for certain,” said Kowalczyk. “It’s designed to take us out of our comfort zones. And then there’s the socializing afterwards. We detox to retox [laughing] – we’re only human after all. I love this league – when I used to play volleyball, a bunch of the girls were mean, while everyone here is open and accepting.”
While the yoga sessions are open and accepting, they are still challenging. “Everyone is divided into teams,” said Erbacher. “At the end of the class there is a competition that is based on teamwork. It’s full on sweating – then socializing. One time, I brought in a psychic medium to one of the bars, just to make it interesting. Almost everything is included in the $75 fee (for eight weeks), even the post yoga activity, and a team jersey! The drinks aren’t free, but each bar offers drink specials. It’s the favorite thing I’ve ever done, because you never know what to expect. People come by themselves, or with a partner… and 80 % of them come back for the following session. There is a wide range of people, abilities, and age groups – we max out the groups at 45 people. The commonality is having fun, whether it’s a disco theme, or live music… we just wanted to create something that everyone will enjoy throughout the course of the year.
Get connected: www.healbflo.com