Little Fish Brewing Company may be known for its sustainable, locally-produced beer and food, but some visit the brewery for another form of relaxation — yoga.
Little Fish, 8675 Armitage Road, hosts a yoga class every Sunday at 10 a.m., either outdoors when it’s warm or inside the taproom during cold weather.
Beau Nishimura, the taproom manager for Little Fish, has loved watching the yoga classes grow since it began almost three years ago.
If You Go:
What: Little Fish Yoga
Where: Little Fish Brewing Company, 8675 Armitage Road
When: Every Sunday, 10 a.m.
Admission: Free, donations are encouraged
“We had a lot of regulars who talked about how amazing it would be to do outside yoga underneath our pavilion on the patio because it overlooks the wetlands and Athens and is very picturesque,” Nishimura said.
The idea came about when a regular from Little Fish decided to start teaching the classes but then had to move shortly after. The whole point was to make the class an outlet of connection for Athens while being affordable.
The class is donation-based, so anyone can participate and donate if they’d like, or enjoy the class for free. People can bring their own mats, or borrow some of the instructor’s mats on a first-come, first-served basis.
The idea turned into a reality for Erin Pfahler, an Athens resident who teaches yoga at Athens Yoga, Passion Works Studio, Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio and now Little Fish.
“Teaching at Little Fish has become an opportunity for me to teach yoga to a wide range of people in a community space,” Pfahler said.
The class is taught by Pfahler and Maria Casa, a senior studying psychology at Ohio University. Pfahler recruited Casa after building a relationship through teaching together at Athens Yoga.
“It’s a way to provide community-based classes at an affordable price for people who can’t go to regular studios because they can be really expensive,” Casa said.
Though Casa teaches at Athens Yoga and Little Fish, she also became recently certified to teach trauma-sensitive yoga and is applying to graduate schools with a focus on research fo individuals with trauma using yoga and mindfulness as a form of treatment.
Casa feels yoga is one of the best ways to heal and feel a greater connection with other people and the earth.
Nishimura has seen a number of the yoga regulars and brewery regulars begin to intersect.
“Providing the class out of (the) brewery can have the brewery regulars get introduced to yoga, and yoga people who have not been to the brewery can see our space, check out our drink menu or food menu and maybe want to come back and try it not on yoga days,” Nishimura said.
The class taught on Sundays is an entry-level class designed to meet everyone’s pace. Beginners can follow along exactly, whereas more experienced practitioners can take Pfahler and Casa’s suggestions to go into more complex poses.
“At Little Fish, there’s no judgment,” Casa said. “Whatever your ability is, you’re accepted into the space there. Sometimes studios are restrictive in some ways, with the idea to fit in and be this incredible yogi, but Little Fish is an all-level class that’s very chill and relaxed.”
Nishimura hopes to inspire a connection among the Little Fish yoga practitioners and the Athens nature.
“It’s amazing just being able to join with nature,” Nishimura said. “Our patio is so picturesque and does have the wetlands and woods around us, so it makes us feel like we’re doing yoga out in nature versus in a studio setting.”
More than feeling a connection with nature, Nishimura, Pfahler and Casa hope to inspire connection between Athens residents, local businesses and each other.
“I think it’s great that we’re able to do this,” Casa said. “It’s awesome that we can connect local businesses and connect the community in a local way. Athens is such a special town and community, so being able to connect them, whether it’s people in the community or just from out of state, is so cool.”
Nishimura also wants to take away the idea of Little Fish being a place of only alcohol-related activities, but rather present it as an all-inclusive, fun place for every type of event.
“We try to be very inclusive,” Nishimura said. “We don’t discriminate against anything or anyone. Whether you’re a child, an adult, a student, a faculty or a local, we want it to be an inclusive place for everybody.”