GREENVILLE, S.C. - The industrial fan circulates the summer air through the warehouse-turned-brewery, a bass-level sound that drowns out the ocean-like breathing among the class.
Recorded rainforest sounds are replaced with the bubbling of CO2 released from a kettle into a bucket of water. Every now and then, a towering piece of equipment will hiss.
The yoga mats, more than a dozen or so of them, are spaced about body-width apart on the concrete floor of Quest Brewing's brewhouse. Car keys and shoes are placed on a pallet of silver kegs.
The instructor, Kate Townsend, leads the class — some whose mats are barely broken in — through the principles of the art.
Listening to your body. Finding a release in a pose. Being present in your breathing.
The hour soon passes.
The class emerges from the dormant state of Savasana, the important end point where participants reap the benefits of their practice, ready for the next stage of this uncustomary pairing: The pint of craft beer that is the "hops" in the "Hatha & Hops" yoga program every Monday night.
This is where two cultures — at first glance so different — blend together, similar in ways that can only be recognized through experience.
Both are beloved — fervently, sometimes cultishly — by acolytes devoted to the sanctity of the art.
Both work to dispel the notion of competition and exclusivity, though a discerning nose for beer or mastery of an extraordinary pose can be quite intimidating, intended or not.
In this setting, however, pretenses are stripped and laid bare, come what may.
"In the end, we're doing yoga at a brewery," Townsend says. "And everyone, at least in the back of their mind, knows a beer is coming at the end, so I think people are easygoing and just happy to be there to relax and enjoy."
Now, she has regulars. And depending on your assumptions, they might or might not be who you think they are.
Before moving to Greenville eight years ago, Townsend lived in Boulder, Colo., where both yoga and beer are foundations of the culture.
A couple years after moving to Greenville, she began taking classes at North Main Yoga.
Townsend says she decided she wanted to find a way "to give back" and enlisted to become a certified yoga instructor.
Two years ago, she earned her certification and taught a community yoga class at the studio while continuing her main occupation as a food writer.
She had long enjoyed craft beer.
Last summer, just weeks after Quest had opened to a crowd of 1,700 in a converted warehouse off the runway of the Downtown Greenville Airport, friends encouraged Townsend to try teaching a beer and yoga class.
She wasn't sure.
The authenticity of yoga, like that of craft beer, is one its devotees are mindful to protect.
"I was hesitant about what people would think," Townsend says. "Greenville isn't quite on par with Charleston's views on such matters."
However, her friends pointed her to the success of a beer and yoga program in Charleston, and Townsend says she "decided to give it a whirl."
The Charleston program is known as "Bendy Brewski."
The class, now in its third year, started out as a private gathering at Holy City Brewing in North Charleston, shortly after the brewery first opened its doors.
The instructor, Beth Cosi, was a former restaurant worker and had tried unsuccessfully to get her food and beverage friends to come to her studio.
They loved the stretching involved in yoga, Cosi said, but it wasn't until she approached the owner of Holy City and held private classes that they would consistently show up to practice.
Afterward, they would get to taste some beer. They became regulars. Cosi said she realized she was on to something.
"They're both ancient traditions," Cosi said. "They both have to do with craft. Your yoga is your constant practice. You never finish practicing. You never check it off the list and get it right. Breweries are the same. They're evolving. It's a blend of hard work and keeping things really pure and clean. There's creativity behind it and discipline."
Cosi will teach only if a brewery representative is involved, whether it's practicing yoga or pouring afterward. She won't allow her program in bars. It's more than "about getting someone a buzz," she says.
Three years later, "Bendy Brewski" holds classes in three breweries in the Charleston area — Holy City, Frothy Beard and Palmetto — and in a New York Times article earlier this summer, Cosi was credited as being the innovator for similar programs emerging across the U.S.
The Bendy program adopted the Hindu god Ganesh — the "remover of obstacles" — as a symbol of its mission.
Cosi is a lululemon ambassador, but she says some students come wearing Carhartt.
The brewery floors are full.
The name "Hatha" derives from the Sanskrit word for "sun" (Ha) and "moon" (Tha). Hops refers to the cone flower grown in certain geographic parallels that is a key ingredient in flavoring and preserving beer.
The brewery's concrete floor is hard, a necessary element for yoga. The space is clear and sprawling. The dock door is open, so heat and humidity are determined by how the fan interacts with the outside elements.
Hatha & Hops is a "breath-inspired flow" class and taught with newcomers in mind.
"We focus first and foremost on the breath, which helps students stay present and calm," Townsend says, "and then move through a series of poses, again led by breath, to help stretch and strengthen the physical body."
The poses are more than just strength-building exercises. A pose might focus on strengthening one muscle while releasing tension from others.
The yoga instructor's job is to help students find a balance between effort and release.
"I design the specific poses based on who shows up," she says.
More new yoga students means a more fundamental class.
A wider range allows Townsend to teach in "levels," giving options from basic poses for more-experienced students who understand appropriate variations based on their own practice and how they might feel on a particular day.
Quest's brewmaster and co-owner, Don Richardson, regularly practices in Townsend's classes.
Richardson said he's noticed a common bond, two interests in which their respective enthusiasts are "open-minded and adventurous."
"Some people come who love craft beer and have never experienced yoga, and beer is a nice enticement to get them to try it," Richardson said. "On the flip side, people come who have done lots of yoga but haven't gotten into craft beer. It's a good way to get both groups introduced to something new in a more laid-back atmosphere that's less intimidating."
The program attracts more men than other traditional yoga classes, Townsend says, though attendance has been split along gender lines about equally in recent weeks.
Townsend is fond of telling the story of guys who walk in still tearing the plastic off the mat they bought at TJ Maxx.
"I love that we have people show up who have never done yoga," she says, "who come — I get it — for the beer at the end but end up becoming regulars to the class."
Bart Zweigoron is among a group of kayakers who regularly attend.
He's been coming for three months after his friends encouraged him. They've found that yoga in particular helps them stretch their spines, he says.
Practice is finished. Classmates are socializing, shaking hands with new friends.
Zweigoron sits at a table in the tasting room, drinking a beer.
It's what got him here.
"This is the only yoga I've ever done," Zweigoron says. "I don't think I'd do it without a beer."
The class is $12. The beer comes in the form of a pint or a tray broken into various samples of what Quest has on tap, whether it's flagship brews or specialty kegs that have just been tapped from the brewhouse.
The brewery tasting room will stay open for another hour if classmates want to stick around.
A Golden Fleece Belgian Pale Ale or Nitro Milk Stout goes down smooth after meditation.
The experimental, one-off brews are available, like the Saluda Wet Hopped IPA, a blend of local ingredients including hops fresh-picked from a farm in North Carolina, hauled in a truck and brewed.
Steve Huffaker is drinking a bold Mazu Double IPA.
Steve's wife, Ann, has been doing yoga for seven years, but since the couple retired and moved from Greenwood to downtown Greenville a few months ago, she hasn't found a place to practice regularly.
The Hatha class inspired her to come out — and bring a familiar face.
"If it was just to come to do yoga, I'd be less likely to do it," Steve says. "It's kind of like the carrot in front of the horse. You run the race knowing that you get the carrot at the end. So this is my carrot."