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Out & About: Befriend alpacas at yoga class fundraiser

  • Take a yoga class with alpacas on Saturday at Barron Hill Alpacas in Windsor. The class, taught by Alexandra Hanly, of Grace Through Gravity, is a fundraiser for the Springfield Humane Society (Barron Hill Alpacas photographs)

  • Take a yoga class with alpacas on Saturday at Barron Hill Alpacas in Windsor. The class, taught by Alexandra Hanly, of Grace Through Gravity, is a fundraiser for the Springfield Humane Society (Barron Hill Alpacas photographs)



Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Just when you think every kind of yoga that can be invented has been invented — hip-hop yoga, aerial yoga, laughter yoga and standup paddleboard yoga are all popular new styles — along comes alpaca yoga.

Similar to baby goat yoga, which is also trending, alpaca yoga involves unrolling your mat outdoors and practicing alongside the furry creatures.

Unlike rambunctious goats, “alpacas are really sweet, gentle animals,” said yoga instructor Alexandra Hanly, of Grace Through Gravity, who will lead an introductory class this weekend at Barron Hill Alpacas in Windsor. “Being out on the farm, out in nature, and having all these loving animals around us — it’s very healing.”

The class takes place from 6-7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 17 at Barron Hill Alpacas, located at 3223 County Road in Windsor. To register, visit gracethroughgravity.com.

Whereas goats may try to join you on the mat, or even hop on your back as you hold a downward dog pose, alpacas are more likely to respect your personal space.

“They’re curious,” Hanly said, “but they’re not going to be jumping on us.”

And it’s not just the yogis who get something out of it. The alpacas enjoy being near people, Hanly said.

“They watch you, they follow you around,” she said. “They want to interact as much as we do.”

The class is free, with optional donations going to the Springfield, Vt., Humane Society. Hanly will match all contributions at 100%, including donations of pet supplies such as cat litter.

Hanly said the owner of Barron Hill Alpacas, Leslie Bracker, contacted her with the idea for alpaca yoga after hearing about previous classes she’s held to benefit other animal charities.

Once or twice per month, Hanly offers special “karma yoga” sessions where admission is free or by donation. Karma yoga is the practice of giving back through service, and these classes are intended to be open to all, regardless of finances.

“Yoga should be accessible to everybody,” Hanly said.

The alpaca yoga class will include gentle vinyasa flow yoga, stretches and a guided meditation. It’s appropriate for any level, including beginners (participants need to be able to get down on the floor and up again). A limited number of mats are available to borrow, but bring your own, if possible.

Participants will have a chance to spend time with the animals before and after the class, and even to feed and water them, if they choose.

Following the session, a five-week alpaca yoga series begins on Sunday, Aug. 18, for those who want to continue. The cost is $70 for the series, or $20 for single class drop-ins, with a portion of the proceeds designated for animal charities.