Puppy yoga comes to Escanaba

Courtesy Photo Chloe Farnham, puppy yoga participant, is licked by a puppy during a puppy yoga session at the Delta Animal Shelter recently. The shelter partnered with Anytime Fitness to host the sessions as a way to get people to try yoga, socialize the baby animals and raise money for the animal shelter.

ESCANABA — Yoga is a form of exercise that requires deep breathing, relaxation, stretching and balance — pair it with baby animals and it’s a winning combination to let the stress of daily life melt away.

Delta Animal Shelter partnered with Anytime Fitness and brought puppy yoga and kitten yoga to Escanaba.

“We have done two sessions of puppy yoga,” said Sue Gartland, the shelter manager.

The past two weeks, Monday evenings were a time of exercise and socialization at the shelter. A person could register for the yoga session with Anytime Fitness’ Yoga Instructor Lana Cooper.

So far the sessions have raised almost $1,000 with all of the proceeds benefiting the shelter.

“The puppies really help clear the mind and unload all the stress — so without even realizing you’re exercising. It’s also just a more welcoming experience to consider trying yoga for the first time,” Jayne Szukalowski, the manager at Anytime Fitness, said.

The next session will be kitten yoga on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. People interested must register with Anytime Fitness and can do so by calling at 906-233-0000.

Gartland said the second session of kitten yoga will be determined at some point during the week with weather in mind. The event will be posted on the shelter’s Facebook page.

Experienced or novice — all skill levels are welcome to the yoga sessions. All that is needed of the participants is to bring their own yoga mats and water bottles.

Szukalowski said the benefit of having baby animals at the sessions takes pressure off of people who’ve never tried yoga before.

She explained the animals help with people who may be self-conscious of their lack of ­knowledge in yoga techniques because everyone is far more preoccupied with the baby animals.

Besides the benefits for humans, the animals also benefit from the yoga sessions.

“From the shelter’s perspective, it was great socialization for the puppies to be exposed to so many caring people — and also to open up the shelter to maybe people who have never been here nor realized the important work that we do in the community and get a glimpse at how many animals the shelter cares for on a given day,” Gartland said.

As of Friday morning, the shelter had 143 animals — four of which are kittens that were born Thursday night.

Gartland explained the puppies involved in the yoga session were born at the shelter and were officially up for adoption as of yesterday afternoon. By 5 p.m. Friday, the dogs had all been adopted.

Gartland said the partnership between Anytime Fitness and the shelter has been great.

“We want to thank Anytime Fitness, yet another community run business caring about a community run organization. I think that’s important,” she said.

Pairing yoga with animals is far from over in Escanaba. Szukalowski said Anytime Fitness will be sponsoring goat yoga sessions with the inventor of goat yoga Lainey Morse during the Upper Peninsula State Fair this summer.

Friday, Aug. 16, Morse will be at the fair to present her story on the benefits of the now worldwide goat yoga trend and provide people opportunities to participate for 15 minute sessions.

Szukalowski said she is in the preliminary stages of planning the event, but goat yoga will be at the U.P. State Fair.