Alpaca mat for Dartmouth’s first alpaca yoga session

Jun 29, 2019

Everyone has heard of yoga.

Many have even heard of goat yoga.

But have you ever heard of alpaca yoga?

Around 20 people from all over the South Coast came to North Dartmouth on Saturday morning to practice yoga with the alpacas at Hill Crest Farms on Old Fall River Road.

They spent an hour breathing, stretching, and holding poses — and occasionally handing out peppermint-flavored treats to the woolly camelids that grazed peacefully nearby.

“It’s really fun to be able to do [yoga] outside in nature, with animals,” explained yoga instructor Keri Cusson. “Because so many yoga poses are animal based.”

Farm owner Shirley Lanouette said that they decided to do a yoga event after hearing about similar events.

“It’s becoming a thing,” noted Cusson. 

Lanouette added that alpacas are “very laid-back animals,” so they lend themselves well to this type of activity.

Her son-in-law David Michalski spent a few minutes before the session telling participants all about alpacas — including the difference between alpacas and llamas (alpacas are friendlier, smaller, and have finer wool.)

“This is our first time trying yoga, so we want your input,” said Michalski to the participants. “Both good and bad. We want to make it better.”

People of all ages and ability levels came out for the event.

East Taunton resident Jazzmyn Rodrigues brought her mother Pauline Nassif, who loves llamas, for her 47th birthday.

“I’m so excited!” Nassif commented before the event. 

“She’s happy, so I’m happy,” laughed her daughter.

Although the animals were a bit shy at first, nibbling the grass in various corners of the field, there was plenty of time for interaction.

“I think it went great,” said Cusson after the session. “I think [the alpacas] didn’t know what to expect from us, just as we didn’t know what to expect from them. But I think we all respected each other.”

New Bedford resident Stephanie Kirby has practiced yoga for 16 years — and this isn’t the first time she’s had a session with animals.

“I did kitten yoga last year, at the Humane Society,” she said with a smile. 

So how do alpacas compare?

“I loved it,” Kirby said. “I definitely would be back.”

It was a sentiment shared by everyone who participated on the day.

“I thought it was awesome,” said yoga practitioner Julie Vieira. “I love yoga and animals, so the minute I saw it on Facebook I had to come here.”

Vieira — who grew up in Dartmouth but has since moved to New Bedford — has been practicing yoga for a couple of years. 

“I hope they actually have more of these, because I’ll be here,” she laughed.