FIFE, Wash. — On sunny weekend mornings at Firwood Farm in Fife, Liz Grasher leads a not-so-typical outdoor yoga class... an alpaca yoga class.
"I always tell people the animal comes to you based on your energy," she said.
Attendees unfold the infinite possibilities of the mind and soul with these gentle and peaceful cousins of the llama.
The class started in 2019, but farm owner Leanna Stidham first welcomed alpacas to her farm in 2005 for breeding when some were fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions. A few years later, interest in alpacas declined tremendously just as hay prices soared.
"People were almost giving them away," Leanna recalled. "I was finding some free on Craigslist and just didn't want to think about where they might end up."
So Leanna shifted gears. Instead of breeding alpacas, she decided to start rescuing them. She has saved 70 since 2012, and hasn't slowed down since. In May 2021, she welcomed six males seized from a Stanwood farm where animal control said they were about to be slaughtered for dog food.
"They were extremely skittish extremely jumpy," Leanna said.
Her rescue efforts are admired and supported by her husband Greg. "I would say God's gifted her the ability to care for animals -- that's her ministry in life," he explained. "She's a 24/7 alpaca person."
It's not certain what the alpacas think about the yoga sessions, but at Firwood Farm the rescues are well cared for until Leanna works hard to find them caring forever homes.
"I just love sharing alpacas with people. I just think they're an amazing animal and a lot of people connect with them," Leanna said.
At the end of the 45-minute class, practitioners are invited to enjoy a 15-minute meet and greet/feeding session. Here is where dreams can come true.
"I always wanted to pet a llama and feed them," said 12-year-old attendee Tristen White.
This almost might be one of Leanna's favorite parts of the day, too: "Seeing them come to life and trust people and know they're loved and being taken care of."
Firwood Farm Alpacas is located at 8002 48th St E. in Fife. You can book a spot in the alpaca yoga class on Firwood Farm's website. Sessions are $30 a person and 100% of the proceeds support the farm's rescue efforts. They also offer private farm tours and more.