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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Puppies gather around Sydney Thompson during cuddle time at a recent Puppies and Yoga event at Simply Yoga.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Evy Murphy plays with one of the puppies brought to a recent Puppies and Yoga event at Simply Yoga on Stellhorn Road.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Rachel Gilliam, left, and Mary Bernens laugh while the puppy refuses to sit still for a selfie at a recent Puppies and Yoga event at Simply Yoga on Stellhorn Road.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Stacey Thompson holds one of the many puppies running around at a recent Puppies and Yoga event at Simply Yoga on Stellhorn Road.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Alicia Clark, left, and Barb Dudding work on yoga poses during Yoga by the Fountain, which is hosted by Aveda at Jefferson Pointe on Tuesday evenings.

Thursday, August 02, 2018 1:00 am

Not your normal yoga

Puppies and kittens, public venues are among local options

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

“First of all, in your story, you should refer to it as 'doga,'” Jamey Banowetz says with a laugh.

The owner and instructor at Urban Body Yoga is talking about dog yoga, one of the less-traditional forms of yoga popping up. Recent events in the area have included dogs, DJs and even goats.

On Sunday, Urban Body Yoga will have a session with the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition featuring a litter of puppies that can be adopted. An event like this not only gets people in the studio, but it brings awareness to the dog organization, Banowetz says.

There is a $15 minimum donation and space is limited for the 10:30 a.m. class. It includes an hour of all-levels yoga, then another hour of meeting and cuddling with the puppies.

“Yoga is the bridge to create community and any way that we can get people in and interested, it's a win-win for everyone involved,” she says.

The studio at 4930 Illinois Road is looking to bring yoga to the community. For people who have the idea that yoga isn't for them, sharing a class with animals might be less intimidating.

“This is a way to maybe break the ice and say 'Well, here's something fun,'” Banowetz says. “And maybe you'll realize yoga isn't just stretching or isn't just for flexible people or you have to be skinny, or you have to be 21 and fit. It's available and accessible to any age and any body type.”

Christa Smith has recently started offering puppy and kitten events at Simply Yoga.

She fosters dogs with Perfect Paws Pet Rescue and thought, “Why not combine the two?” Proceeds from the puppy events go to the rescue, and the kitten events benefit Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control. Both organizations bring young animals that can be adopted, and each event includes a 30-minute cuddle session with the puppies or kittens after a 45-minute yoga class.

“I just think it's a lot more fun,” Smith says, adding she thinks everyone leaves feeling really good after one of the animal events.

Of course, when you're dealing with animals – especially young ones – there are bound to be “accidents.” With kittens, a litter box is used. For the puppies at Simply Yoga, a couple of volunteers are on hand to clean up.

Puppies running around the class is a bit distracting, but that's what makes it fun, Smith says with a laugh.

“But we try the best we can to still have the yoga part,” she says.

Simply Yoga has a Puppies and Yoga event scheduled at its 5958 Stellhorn Road location for Saturday. There is a minimum $20 donation for the class, which has a limited number of spots. Spots were still available as of Wednesday morning. Call 451-9642 for more information.

Some yoga classes have also been stepping out of the studio.

Aveda, a body products retailer at Jefferson Pointe, offers a class near the shopping center's fountain at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays though Aug. 28. Suggested donations of $10 for the outdoor session benefit clean water initiatives.

Urban Body Yoga recently participated in the Fit Wayne Fitness Concert on the plaza at One Summit Square. The event featured music by a DJ and included high-intensity training, dance fitness and flow yoga.

Attendees that had maybe done only one type of fitness activity were introduced to other formats, such as yoga, through the event, Banowetz says.

Her studio is planning a yoga event on the Embassy Theatre's rooftop patio Sept. 14 and she is talking to Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation about doing an event at the Lakeside Park Rose Garden. Call Urban Body at 432-9642 for more information on its events, including if spots are still available for this weekend's dog yoga.

For Banowetz, these sorts of events are more than just a way to get people interested in yoga. They also encourage community as you hang out with friends and meet new people.

“In this time when people are on their phones and so socially isolated, yoga can also be a bridge to bring people together,” she says.