Yoga Under a Big Blue Sky

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Photo: J.T. Liss (Photography for Social Change)

Photo: J.T. Liss (Photography for Social Change)

Sun Salutations in the late-afternoon sun. Hawks soaring high above. A light breeze cooling down the day while gentle drumming keeps the tempo. Around me, 60 yogis, woman and men, arch into Up Dog, faces radiant as they gaze skyward.

Such was the idyllic scene at the recent Mind, Body, Spirit and Wine event at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California. Leading us through the practice was the lovely Suzanna Spring from Cosmic Dog Yoga studios. And co-teaching on this perfect autumn day was Yogadork, the delightful and prolific New York yoga blogger and teacher.

The event marked the confluence of passions for yogin-winemaker Karl Wente, whose love of the practice is something of local legend. Around the winery, Wente is known for his spontaneous expressions of asana, busting out an arm balance to make a point or kicking into headstand when too-long tasting sessions start to dull his senses.Yoga, he says, makes him a better winemaker, helping to cultivate the Beginner's Mind that allows him to approach each wine anew, fully experiencing every nuance. Watch Wente discuss his yoga-and-winemaking philosophy here.

Pairing yoga with wine is a relatively new trend that stirs some debate in yoga circles. But on this day, yogis flush from fresh air and asana happily sampled the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah Wente had chosen for a post-class tasting.

Whether or not you agree with mixing your yoga with wine, it's hard not to like outdoor yoga. Your inhalations feel deeper; the exhales extend further. Reach for the sky; bow to the earth. No walls, no boundaries. Practicing under an autumn-blue sky, surrounded by grapevines? A votre sante!