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Alabama alumna brings rooftop yoga to local bar

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CW/ Austin Bigoney

CW/ Austin Bigoney

CW/ Austin Bigoney

Meghan Mitchell, Assistant Culture Editor

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Bright stage lights, dancing crowds and pulsating beats were replaced by a yoga instructor and her soothing accompaniment this weekend at Rounders Bar. A University of Alabama alumna led friends, family and local residents in a rooftop vinyasa. After the sweat-inducing class, participants were rewarded with a drink of choice.  

Alex Cheval returned to her hometown to teach at Rounders’ inaugural rooftop yoga event this weekend. Cheval started taking yoga classes at the University Recreation Center as a student. Now, she leads her own classes.

“I’ve known the owner for a very long time,” Cheval said. “I’m from Tuscaloosa. I just reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, can I teach yoga on the rooftop?’”

Cheval said the event was a success, and that she would like to do it again in the future.

“My favorite part was just seeing everybody kind of laughing and loosening up, especially toward the end when that funny song came on and everybody was dancing,” Cheval said, “Everybody seems like they think yoga has to be very pretentious and you have to be very quiet, and you know, just to see that fun side of it, I like to bring that out.”

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the class provided a tough workout. Chandra Mason, an educator in Tuscaloosa City Schools, attended the event with a group of friends. She said she enjoyed the “fun tempo” of the class but appreciated the challenging workout as well.

“Most people feel like yoga’s super easy, but it’s not,” Mason said. “Anyone who’s done a yoga class knows it’s not easy. But it was just our time to connect, so we thought we’d have fun together and do something challenging.”

The temperature added another level of difficulty to the class. Malorie Talley, a close friend of Cheval’s, said the heat from the sun made the rooftop class feel like hot yoga.

“It was hot,” Talley said. “But it was good – it was really like hot yoga. You burn like twice the amount of calories.”

After doing yoga, participants could cool off with a drink of their choice from the bar inside.  Lauren White, a senior majoring in accounting, said this aspect of the event was “something different than your average yoga class.”

“It’s something to kind of look forward to afterwards and kind of give it a different edge on a normal yoga class,” White said.

Along with friends and local residents, Cheval’s mother, Jo Ann, participated in the event.  

“Whenever we’re together, we will do yoga together,” Jo Ann Cheval said. “I’ll go to her classes if she’s teaching. We’ve gotten her father to do a little bit, not a lot. We’re working on it.”

Yoga has become one way for Jo Ann Cheval and her daughter to connect. She said Alex Cheval was the one who introduced her to yoga, and the pair attend classes together and use Instagram to share yoga-related posts and tips.

“I support her, like any mother would,” Jo Ann Cheval said.

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Alabama alumna brings rooftop yoga to local bar