Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

The Vinyasa flow class in Spencer, MA features pigs

By Vaseline May27,2024

According to the National Institutes of Health, in addition to helping lower stress and blood pressure, “studies have shown that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and improve your mood.”

There is plenty of snorting and screeching when the three little piggies arrive for lessons in Bousquet’s fenced backyard. There are also a few bunnies and a baby goat, all imported from a local farm for the hour-long Vinyasa yoga sessions.

Goat yoga became a sensation in 2017, but now it’s the piggies that are bringing home the bacon. Classes usually sell out within 24 hours.

“It’s no longer about the goats, everyone wants a piece of the piglets,” says Bousquet.

The class is for all ages and all levels. The last 15 minutes are reserved for ‘photos and extra hugs’. Don’t try to pick up these piggies, they will act like you’re taking them to the market.

The first thing she does is make everyone feel at home.

“It’s about what feels good for you,” she tells the twenty women and children (and one man) as they stretch out on their mat.

“In our world of go, go, go with the constant to-do list, we are never in the present moment. The animals bring you a calming, relaxing aura and that’s great,” says Bousquet.

It’s gentle flow yoga, no one sweats like you know what.

“If at any time you want to hang out and cuddle with the pigs, absolutely do so.”

Ashley Bousquet teaches piglet yoga in her fenced backyard in Spencer.
Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff
One of the piggies trots on a participant’s yoga mat.
Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

The goat is gentle, the bunnies calm, but the piglets are unpredictable. Sometimes they cuddle, other times they run around the mats or tear up Bousquet’s lawn as if there is treasure beneath it.

Wilbur, the only male pig, tries to put one of the girl pigs in the Buddha position inches away from a barefoot woman with pink toenails.

“Wilbur, that’s going to be a big no,” shouts Brianna Walther, the piggies’ owner.

Bousquet, who also teaches piglet yoga classes at breweries (no drinking until after class), later admits that this behavior is not kosher.

“Oh, we’re going to reprimand him and get him grounded for sure,” she says.

The UMass Amherst graduate and veteran dance instructor says she’s going to try Pig Yoga when these piggies get bigger. It might not work.

“We’ll see,” she says.

Not every animal is suitable for a yoga class, she says.

“I own three reptiles. I have a 23 year old iguana at home. I’ve had it since it fit in the palm of my hand. He is now one and a half meters tall.”

She leaves them in the house.

“Not everyone likes the scale. He was just crawling around and shaking his head like, “Hey, how are you?”

Bousquet is also considering trying bird yoga. She thinks having owls would be a hoot.

After the class, the reviews are all positive. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of yoga.

“It was amazing,” said Tammy Renard of Spencer. “Oh my God, it’s so relaxing.”

At one point during the session, Renard lies down and closes her eyes. When she opens them, three piggies float above her. She screams and then laughs. The six-week-old piggies had their favorites.

“The humor, the relaxation. It was amazing. You feel the endorphins,” she says.

Amy Finkel brought her two daughters.

“I found it very exciting. It was cute. It’s a lot more fun if you have animals that encourage you during exercise.”

Jordan Glynn, of Quaker Hill, Conn., the only male participant, says this was his first but not his last yoga class.

“It was fun. The piglets definitely helped you get some extra stretch in your turns so you can see where they’re running.”

Jessica Larocca left the class with a growing appetite.

“Pork is for dinner tonight,” she says, laughing.

She believes the piggies sensed that somehow.

“It’s probably why (they) stayed away.”

A piglet tries to stay cool during yoga class.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff
Yoga participants laugh as they give treats to the piglets.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Stan Grossfeld can be reached at [email protected].

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