By Hannah Phillips
A yoga teacher claims exercising with ALPACAS has cured her anxiety – and now her whole town is hooked on the trend.
Rachel Lightbird, 52, from Ulveston, Cumbria, suffers with anxiety but believes regularly exercising with the adorable fluffy animals has made her realise ‘life is good’.
After teaching yoga for 20 years and looking for a different way to wind down, single Rachel teamed up with local farmer Sarah Saunders, 53, who provides the alpacas to help the community.
Now, Rachel claims she has got her whole rural town hooked on the bizarre workout with dozens of people enjoying sessions to date – and said the animals love taking part too.
The full time yoga instructor, said: “There’s been a craze of people doing yoga with animals, it’s something novel and its really good for stress because it calms your nervous system down.
“People were spending time with the alpacas and saying it was the best thing they’ve ever done in their entire life.
Physically and emotionally it’s more calming and opens the heart.
“It’s a different experience and it’s different doing it outside as well.
“It makes your body relax, it’s definitely anxiety relieving.
“In that moment it really works and brings goodness and makes people think life can be good.
“I have anxiety myself and I think it’s lovely, you’re out in nature and they are very cute animals.
“Alpacas are really special because they are so intelligent and inquisitive.
“They actually calms the nervous system and rebalances the hormones out of anxiety and into calmness. I find it takes me out of myself.”
Yoga and alpaca fanatic Nicky Bragg, 33, suffers with generalised anxiety disorder which makes her feel constantly ‘chained up’.
She said the alpaca yoga has relieved her of the constant feeling she’s about to go to a job interview.
Postwoman Nicky, from Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness, said: “I’m anxious all the time and exercising with animals really helps long term because if you’re feeling better from an experience, it makes you want to do it again.
“There’s scientific evidence that the alpacas release endorphins and relieve anxiety.
“I love all animals, particularly alpacas. The effects of the alpaca yoga last throughout the day and I felt a lot more calm, so did many of my students.
“They are gorgeous, such funny creatures, I love being around them.
“They are so comical and relaxing, they make you feel at ease because they are quite timid themselves. They make me laugh.”
Farmer Sarah offered her alpacas to Rachel after seeing the success of animal yoga online.
Rachel said the animals have opened her heart and made her realise ‘life is good’– but admitted they can occasionally spit when stressed!
She said: “People relate to alpacas, they make them feel good. They are just so sweet and cute with their fluffy faces.
“They are very friendly and intelligent and their hearts are open.”