If yoga is one of those things you’ll do when pigs fly, your time has come.
The North Georgia Zoo is offering yoga sessions with a twist this spring — Piggy Yoga. No longer will barnyard yoga classes be dominated by goats.
It’s time to let other animals have the spotlight.
Don’t let the pigs fool you into thinking this class is all fun and games — the zoo’s class is led by a licensed instructor.
North Georgia Zoo partners with Cathi Huff, the creator of GOGA goat yoga studio in Milton, to host the GOGA In The Wild events.
“She will come up, or one of her instructors will come up. We provide the animals and the space, and she provides the instructors. It’s been a fun partnership,” said Jeff Powell, the director of operations at the North Georgia Zoo.
In this case, the zoo is providing KuneKune piglets. The pigs are hand-raised and comfortable around people.
The sessions last 45 minutes to an hour and will be held Mar. 14, April 11 and May 9 at 2 p.m. Classes have a 12-person maximum.
Yoga newbies are encouraged to come and enjoy the experience — and the piglets — along with the pros.
“You can participate up to your level of comfort. If they do a pose that’s too difficult for you, they will usually modify the pose and say, ‘If you have trouble with this, you can do it this way,” Powell said.
Some participants only go for yoga, while others are there strictly for the animals. There have even been people that end up sitting and playing with the pigs rather than doing yoga.
According to Powell, the experience is the main purpose of piggy yoga, but there are therapeutic benefits that go along with it as well.
“Animals have been proven to be very relaxing. That’s why when you pet a dog, your blood pressure goes down and the same thing happens with a lot of these animals we use,” Powell said.
Along those lines, Huff said the combination of yoga and animals isn’t just a marketing move, but amounts to “therapy” for participants.
But even with a class this wild, safety is still the zoo’s No. 1 priority.
“We want to choose animals that are first, safe. Second, we want to make sure the animals themselves are not stressed. So we’re choosing animals that like being around people,” Powell said.
If you want to go even more exotic than pigs, the North Georgia Zoo also offers Tortoise and Hare Yoga, Flexin’ With Flamingos classes and Kangaroo Yoga.
The zoo has offered classes with different animals in the past such as puppies, llamas and goats, and continues to experiment to find new classes.
In her other yoga work, she plans on not only doing goat yoga, but incorporating other animals and getting GOGA In The Wild to come down as well.
“For me, it’s not about the business. This is about me loving my animals,” Huff said. “What prompted me to start my business was that I started seeing the love people had being around animals and the therapy that it offered. Yoga, being with animals and mindfulness is a beautiful marriage.”
See original story by Lindsey Howard, staff writer of the Gainesville Times here.