Tag: alpacas

Alpaca Yoga!? Alpaca my yoga bag!

The Alpaca Yoga Class

June 21, was International Yoga Day, where people in over 84 countries celebrated the amazing benefits of yoga. This celebration is a fairly new thing, but yoga has been around in the United States for more than a century. Since it was first introduced in Chicago in 1893 by a Hindu Monk named Swami Vivekananda, it has morphed and changed to to be what it is today —  a widely popular path to wellness and mental wellbeing.

While our last yoga class didn’t fall on international yoga day, the spirit of yoga was felt at Purple Alpaca Farms.  Visitors came to feel at one with nature, see some beautiful alpacas and take in their amazing energy while breathing deep the scent of nature and fresh air.

After the guests checked in at our AlpaCafe for their alpaca yoga class, they were led to our Violet pasture, where our female alpacas live. Once there, they formed a circle and set up their mats and began with the practice of grounding. Grounding is the process of centering your mind, body, and spirit, so that you have a clear mind to begin the practice of stretching and breathing. Think of it like stretching before your strength or cardio workout, but for your mind.

As the guests begin the yoga class with the instructor from Yoga on Main in Elkin, the alpacas start meandering into that part of the pasture where the yoga is happening.  This session also included a visit from the farm’s protector, Vanilla, a Great Pyrenees.  We think she wanted to try Alpaca Yoga too.

The practice of Yoga, as we know it in the United States today, involves the combined use of controlled breathing, posture and poses, and a clear mind that is focused only on what you are doing in the moment. This is challenging even for seasoned yoga practitioners and so newcomers to yoga are never judged on their skill level, fitness level, or even how they look. Everyone is welcome, whether it is your first time or if you have been teaching yoga yourself for decades.  The very nature of yoga is being aware of yourself.

The alpaca yoga is no exception to the yoga practices that you find in studios and gyms. The best part of doing yoga with alpacas is the energy and vibes you experience from the beautiful animals and the absolutely stunning nature around you. As the practice wraps up, the guests have moved into position to begin the wind down, reflect on their own thoughts, or even clear their mind completely. Some have been known to even fall asleep during this time. When you finally feel completely relaxed, you slowly begin to wrap up your yoga session and end it with the Anjali Mudra; which is a hands together praying position starting at your bent forehead and moving it down to over your heart, connecting your head to your heart, and saying namaste to yourself and the others around you, welcoming this more relaxed version of yourself.

Namaste, is technically a formal hello, but much like how yoga has evolved, so has the meaning of the word “namaste”. Namaste can be a gesture to yourself, connecting with your inner self, or even used as a way of connecting to others. 

Once you have finished your yoga session, you head over the AlpaCafe, where you can refresh with a drink and snack, whether it be chips or a healthy protein bar, and enjoy relaxing on the deck watching the farm’s chickens forage in the grass.  On days when yoga is in the morning, you can stay after for a full farm tour and experience the alpacas even more hands on.

If alpaca yoga at Purple Alpaca Farms sounds like something you would be interested in, you can register here. Our next date is July 24, 2021. 

We hope to see you soon.  Be sure to follow along with our newsletter and social media to stay up to date for upcoming events.

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2020: all roads lead to Alpacas

Urban Life

We were the typical suburban household. Well, mostly. We came from Concord, CA; a small suburb just 45 minutes outside of San Francisco proper. My husband immigrated here from Germany. We met in Arizona. We’ve lived in Arizona, Seattle, California and now NC in our 8 years together. Tech brought us to California. We had two kids, a home and one dog. We didn’t have local family but our neighbors had taken us in. The girls had just started in gymnastics and we were taking regular trips to homeschool group outings. We were going to NYC for my birthday in March with plans to head to Germany in August for the brother in law’s wedding. Just 45 minutes outside the Bay area, we were always able to find something to keep us busy. Outdoor hikes, fruit picking at farms, trip into SF. We had access to life. We were mostly typical.

Littlest and I at the beach after ankle surgery

The Pandemic

On some level, there’s the understanding that pandemics happen. It’s there but we don’t think about it. The risk of a virus mutating and threatening the lives of people is out there and no matter how you feel about COVID or the current state we live in, I would imagine that you, like me, wouldn’t have predicted the route that 2020 took.

The few months leading up to COVID’s big hit were challenging. Unsuccessful ankle surgery that past November, shoulder surgery in February. By March, COVID was shutting down California and the littlest and I had come down with a pneumonia that wiped us out for nearly the whole month. By this time, NY had shut down and trips were cancelling. Surgeries and recovery had kept us at home. We were already “trapped” at home for my recoveries. Now, we were trapped at home for the well being of everyone. The unknown was intimidating and after that bout of pneumonia, and some high risk conditions, we worked to do the best that we could with what we had.

Babywearing

By May, our family was feeling the at home isolation getting to our brains. The girls missed snuggling and our regular walks with our amazing neighbor. We missed our friends, gymnastics. Being a photographer, I was running out of ways to take pictures of my children in the house. Since my eldest was only a few weeks old, we always “wore” our babies. It was really part hobby. And an excuse to take selfies. Back-pack type carriers, ring slings, woven wraps… we tried every brand, type, style. The online community for baby wearing is incredible — it made it easy to buy, sell, and trade carriers. Every style was different and fit different. With my littlest, I fell into a world of handwoven baby wraps. There are these incredible people in this community that use a floor loom to make delicate, strong, detailed, vibrant and simply beautiful pieces of art that you can use to carry your baby in. As a mother without a lot of time for traditional forms of beautifying, these works of art were both functional and made you feel incredible.

A friend had always suggested that I take my interest in it and try to learn to make them too. Weaving is a complex art form. I had a lot of time on my hands suddenly and I needed somewhere to put it…

Weaving

The owner of Carry Om offered virtual classes and was so supportive and helpful in discussing weaving. She is an incredible and talented woman. Looms, what to look for, where to start. She made it feel less intimidating (even though it was) and into something that could be achievable. Getting into weaving, though, has a cost and with some functional and space limitations, it limited what type of loom I could find.

I shopped for weeks. I watched videos by Jane Stafford, perused all the weaving groups I could find. Finally, mid May, it happened. I found a Schacht 8 shaft Mighty Wolf.

first warp set up. A small scarf.

My re-do ankle surgery had been cancelled and scheduled for two weeks after the loom arrived but I was hooked. I decided I was going to weave a baby wrap, overwhelming myself, and managed to get the loom warped for weaving barely in time for surgery. To my husband’s chagrin, I was weaving with one foot and a propped up ankle.

Baby wrap #1

It was hard. I didn’t set a low bar. I incorporated weft changes, clasping, multiple weave changes. I attempted to use the Fibonacci Sequence to pattern out the wrap.

And it worked!

Eldest in a Traditional Sling Carry

I got a baby wrap! In fact, I got two. The second of which had triple clasping. This wrap here has since become a purse and cowl combo that you can see and purchase here.

Alpacas

How does all this get us here? In the midst of all these things, we were trying to find a way to create our experiences at home. We started a garden. We ordered online all the time; the “experience” of arriving mail to open and products to try, buy. We were trying to find us again when all of our normal us had been put on pause.

I had wanted to move for months at that point, even pre-COVID. One day in June, we were chatting about where we might go if we went somewhere. We didn’t know. The reality being that anywhere we went might be the same situation we were in — but probably cheaper. Moving is a lot of stress. Would that be enough? We needed a bigger reason for change.

We were teaching the girls about farm animals and somehow, llamas and alpacas came up. We wanted to know the differences between the two. The videos of alpacas somehow clicked for us. Beautiful animals and it combined with our love for being outdoors. And they produce a fiber that I already know I love weaving with and babywearing with. They have adorable, curious and gentle ways. They are an easier livestock to manage and are very intuitive to their survival.

We looked at each other and said… well, this sounds kind of ridiculous but maybe.

Farm Tour

We needed to meet these fluffy bundles of fiber. We found Menagerie Hill Ranch out of Vacaville and booked a private tour. We asked question after question. We held a cria.

Soft, fluffy, cria holding at Menagerie Hill Ranch.

I don’t know if this sealed it for us in this moment but it helped. I’m often the skeptic and our tour guide offered information that left me with some concerns. Researching we went.

The Business

We mentioned to our sister in law, Nora and my husband’s brother, Tobias, that we were thinking of doing this. Nora, fairly immediately, was yes! Let’s do it together! The idea grew very quickly from well, maybe… to suddenly, conversations with immigration lawyers and the acreage hunt began. Nora and Tobi are coming from Germany. Our strange little idea suddenly turned into a family adventure with Nora & I running and owning Purple Alpaca.

In full disclosure, I had struggled the past few years with some health issues, coupled with being a new mother and relocating. I really missed having family around. Raising children and living life really does require a village. Like our alpacas, we thrive with our herds.

This wild idea quickly turned into something I had been hoping for… for a really long time. 2020, again, was not what I expected.

Finding our “Be”

Part of our COVID journey has been about mindfully finding ourselves again and accepting that so many things are out of our control. It has come with a lot of soul searching. This blog article is, truly, an oversimplification of all the learning, work, and the journey that has gone into becoming alpaca farmers. The learning is non-stop but the alpacas come with a calm that simply is. They are who they are. You can’t control it. The outdoors is what it is — we trek to them in the mud, the rain. Their calm is the reminder of where our calm is and can be found again when we’ve lost it. We don’t have to keep trying to fill the void. Life was loud and sometimes, we spent our time looking for the loud because, in some ways, it was the quiet — the what was left that can be scary. The out of control, the vulnerable, the moments of just existing.

In their be is their adventure. Now it’s ours. And we are really excited to share it with you.

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