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Namaste, the Animal Way

August 16, 2016

By Meg Campbell

It seems like every day a new form of yoga appears on the scene. Hot yoga. Yoga flow. Bikram yoga. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, Pittsburghers thought they had it all.

There’s a new trend in town, though, as novice yogis and experienced practitioners lay their mats down next to a new crew. These newcomers squawk, hop and howl. One classmate even tried to snack on a yoga mat.

So who are these new students? Meet the feathered friends and furry critters bringing new lessons to favorite poses like downward dog, owl pose and cat pose.  

Y-owl-ga

In July, we caught up with the Animal Rescue League at the Secret Life of Pets premier, where they shared with us some of their innovative programming in pet adoptions. This month, we stopped by their Wildlife Center in Verona to stretch our bodies while their resident owls stretched their wings.

These guys think our owl poses could use a bit more practice. Image: Meg Campbell

These guys think our owl poses could use a bit more practice. Image: Meg Campbell

These owls think our owl poses could use a bit more practice. Image: Meg Campbell

Y-owl-ga classes take place on the beautiful deck overlooking the Wildlife Center grounds. On a sunny Thursday evening, 10 human students of all levels were greeted at the door by the pint-sized Travis, a feisty saw-whet owl too small to join us outside.

Two of the larger residents, Martha, a great horned owl, and Hermes, a short-eared owl, kept watch over the class from perches outside. Shango, an African spurred tortoise, was eager to participate, but his voracious appetite for yoga mats – and Martha’s curiosity about his snack potential – led him inside.

The hour-long class was designed for all levels, with poses taught at a beginner level and advanced options provided for seasoned students.

“We are always trying to think of new ways to teach people about wildlife in a fun and engaging way. Yoga is a great way to take care of your body and mind,” shares Alexis Fitzgerald, manager of humane and wildlife education. “With the proceeds going toward the care of our animals, we figured it was a great way to support the world around us.” 

The Animal Rescue League will be hosting Y-owl-ga classes every Thursday in August from 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. at their Wildlife Center in Verona. All proceeds benefit the care of animals at the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

Yoga with Penguins

Whirl Magazine and the National Aviary are teaming up to provide Pittsburgh’s newest twist on yoga, Yoga with Penguins.

Yogis and penguin lovers alike will have two chances in August to participate in a 90-minute yoga class in the National Aviary’s Rose Garden. After class, students will be able to get up close and personal with an African penguin. Who wouldn’t want a selfie with a penguin?

Disco Dan is a selfie pro – as far as African penguins go, at least. Image: Meg Campbell

Disco Dan is a selfie pro – as far as African penguins go, at least. Image: Meg Campbell

Classes will be held on Aug. 17, 2016 from 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m. and Aug. 20, 2016 from 8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.

Bunny Yoga! Kitten Yoga! DOGA!

Animal Friends knows: Yoga isn’t just for the birds. Four-legged friends are every bit as eager to hop on over to the mat, dig their claws into learning and downward dog all day long.

Throughout the year, they host yoga classes with adoptable bunnies and kittens, as well as BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog) sessions. These classes provide adoptable animals the opportunity to stretch and socialize, while providing humans with much-needed smiles and stress relief.