As a group of about 15 people harnessed their breathing on yoga mats, four alpacas walked over to search for food.
After sniffing the instructor’s hair and finding nothing to munch, they walked toward a fence covered in vines, and the yoga instructor continued with her class.
Proceeds from the classes go back to the rescue and the alpacas.
“I’ve actually been thinking about alpaca yoga for the last two years, ever since I heard about goat yoga because I found, and a lot of people who come and visit, tell me how the alpacas are very calming,” said Leanna Stidham, founder and owner of Firwood Farm Alpacas. “I had thought yoga is just a calming, serene type of exercise. I thought it’d be so neat, but I didn’t know anybody who taught yoga. I already had enough to do, so I just filed that in the back of my mind.”
A few months ago, yoga instructor Elizabeth “Liz” Grasher reached out to Stidham about starting alpaca yoga.
Grasher said she had taken goat yoga before and seen that there were places in Oregon and England that do alpaca yoga. When Grasher and Stidham met, Grasher interacted with the alpacas, and the two decided a class wouldn’t be too much for the animals and would be calming for people who attend.
“As you slowly start to realize, ‘Wow, I’m carrying a lot of tension,’ or, ‘I’m clenching my jaw,’ I believe the alpacas, our pets, our animals pick up on that and you can use them as a guide to de-stress,” Grasher said. “Of course yoga is a great tool to help with stress — physical, mental, spiritual and whatnot.”
Grasher and Stidham set dates for classes, and they quickly sold out, so they decided to add more.
“I was flabbergasted,” Stidham said.
Stidham said she had an idea of what the alpacas would do during class but wasn’t exactly sure.
“They were curious at first, but once they realized that ‘OK, you don’t have food or anything,’ they just kind of hung around in the pasture, laid down in the sunshine and just sat there,” Stidham said.
“I just joke they went into savasana (corpse pose) because they nap and they eat a little bit and then take a nap,” Grasher said.
During the 8:30 a.m. class June 30, the 12 alpacas in the pasture did exactly that (although some did wiggle around on their backs for a bit). People who attended the class would stop every once in a while to take pictures and then class would resume.
At the end, people were able to feed the alpacas some grain and meet them up close, some of whom had never met an alpaca before.
“I thought it was kind of cool after the yoga class to be able to interact with them,” said Pamela Hunt, an attendee from Puyallup who brought her daughter to Sunday morning’s class. “I really like what they do with rescuing them so the proceeds goes toward them. I’m an animal lover myself and like to rescue animals, and so I think it’s really cool to be part of something like this.”
There are about six classes left for the season, with one sold out. There are 25 spots per class with a minimum of 15.
The classes are “slow flow” and geared toward beginners. Following each session, participants have a 15-minute meet-and-greet with the alpacas and will be able to feed them.
ABOUT THE FARM
Firwood Farm Alpacas opened with six alpacas in 2006 after Stidham left her job at the Puyallup Police Department. There are now 27 on the 5-acre property. Stidham is certified by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to foster alpacas recovered in cruelty cases. The farm is strictly for rescues. Firwood Farm Alpacas is located at 8002 48th St. E. in Fife.
There are still spots available for the 8:30 a.m. July 21, 8:30 and 10 a.m. Aug 11 and 10 a.m. Sept. 15 classes. Classes are $25 per person and for those 13 and older. There is a class at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 11 for ages 8-12 with a paid parent.