I never thought the sound of an alpaca chewing grass a few feet from my head would be relaxing. But it is.
I know this because I was recently lying in the grass at Lulu’s Barn on Westport Island during an outdoor yoga class, and as I was reveling in savasana and gazing up at the canopy of trees framing a blue sky overhead, I could hear an alpaca nearby, pulling up grass and chewing away contentedly, and the sound made me smile.
The alpaca and I weren’t on the same grass at the same time by accident. We were both there for a Saturday-morning Yoga with the Alpacas class, which takes place here all summer, weather depending.
The yoga class is just one of the goings-on at Lulu’s Barn on Westport Island. Owner Rose Bodmer has filled the barn with all sorts of goods and gifts – from cheese and wine to jewelry, soaps, bowls, and more. She also hosts community coffee, workshops, local artisans, and sometimes live music.
Outside, that’s where you’ll meet Rose’s four pet alpacas: Willy, Fleecy, Gussy, and Marty.
The alpaca are definitely a draw for visitors to the barn, and Rose welcomes folks to come by and say hello and feed the alpacas if they’d like. (No really young kids, though – their sprightly movements startle the alpaca.) And on Saturdays in the summer, we’re welcome to come for a yoga flow in the grass alongside the animals.
Yoga instructor Sarah McDarby leads the yoga – class takes place in a grassy, fenced-in area under trees (perfect for those hotter summer days – it feels cooler here under that tree cover and being not far from the water).
Class is open to all levels, whether you’ve been practicing for years or this is your first yoga experience ever (and who can blame you if you’re lured in by the alpaca).
In many ways, it’s like many yoga classes you’ve been to before – warming up the spine with cat/cow, downward dogs to stretch the back of the legs, some sun salutations to warm the muscles and wake up the body. And Sarah leads with a light, friendly, and welcoming presence.
But then there are the alpacas, which isn’t like most yoga classes you’ve been to before. They wander around, chewing grass and gazing about in a leisurely way. And for anyone who wants to have an up-close-and-personal moment with the alpaca, Rose supplies some alpaca snacks (alpaca, like us, are very food motivated).
Sarah builds in a few poses where you can simultaneously yoga and feed alpaca at the same time – poses like tree pose or warrior 2. We played with tree pose, balancing on one foot with arms extended out to the side, palms turned up and filled with treats. Along come the alpaca for a snack. They’ll come right over and eat out of your open palm when you have treats (they only have teeth on the bottom, so biting isn’t a concern), but as soon as the treats are gone, so are they.
(Dreaming of nuzzling an alpaca for long spells, maybe falling asleep together under a tree like best friends? Too bad – alpaca ain’t having that. But it’s really neat to be close to them for the few moments they’ll allow it.)
Finally, as class nears its end and everyone settles into savasana, you’ll get to look up to the trees and sky and listen to the sound of alpaca nearby. They’ll probably be chewing. And you’ll probably find it relaxing.
Class takes place Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. (weather depending). It’s a $15 drop-in – no need to register in advance, but if you’d like to rsvp via Facebook, here’s the event.
And while you’re there, definitely check out inside the barn. Owner Rose has some really cool stuff in there – jewelry, soaps, vintage signs, wine, as well as a freezer of ice cream and Flavor Ice.
Yoga with alpacas
10:15 a.m. Saturdays, June into September
at Lulu’s Barn, 389 Main Road, Westport Island (www.facebook.com/lulusbarn)
$15 drop-in. No need to pre-register.