Brewery, Yogis and Dog Rescue Unite for Paw-fect Sunday

Jun 06, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Yogis were invited to ManaFirkin Brewing Co. this past weekend to fend off the Sunday Scaries with puppy therapy. The taproom’s picnic tables were pushed against the walls to make space for a neat, linear display of colorful yoga mats. On them, event participants were bending, twisting and stretching as adoptable puppies from the New Jersey Misfits Canine Rescue wove and dove over and under their limbs.

The event was coordinated by Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses, an organization that facilitates these collaborative gatherings to raise money and awareness for animal rescue groups.

Gemma Luzzi, the event manager for Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses, said the idea was conceived in August 2017 and has since expanded outward into several states, including Maryland and Florida. “Since then, we’ve donated over $20,000 to local rescues,” she said.

For an hour, adoptable puppies roamed freely while Liquid Bliss Yoga instructor Dana Mitchell taught a mixed-level yoga class. This was Mitchell’s first time teaching with dogs. “When I was invited to this event I didn’t know what to expect, but now that I’m here it just makes sense. If you look around, everyone is just smiling. That’s it. Forget about your bad day and have a puppy lick your face.”

It should come as no surprise that yoga and dogs make for a harmonious mix. This year, the National Institute of Health reported that interactions with animals can actually boost moods, lower blood pressure and reduce stress and loneliness. Perhaps that’s why an abundance of animal/yoga projects, such as goat yoga and horse yoga, have swept the nation lately.

The brewery was a particularly ideal place for the event. ManaFirkin’s tasting room was a dimly lit, cool, echoing cave-like space. String lights hung from the rafters like stars, evoking a summer backyard party feel. The light-turquoise walls and wooden accents were soothing in their beachy ease. If it hadn’t been for the pitter patter and panting of puppies reverberating off the concrete floors, the room might have welcomed the sound of a pin drop.

This was the second Doga (dog yoga) affair at the brewery this year. Todd Hunt, a co-owner of ManaFirkin Brewing Co., said both events sold out quickly. On the concept of merging yoga and beer for one event, Hunt said, “I think they just go hand in hand. People just love yoga and they love beer, so why not do it in the same place?”

The rest of the world seems to agree with Hunt. The yoga/beer hybrid has been a hot, global trend for quite some time now. Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver hosts monthly “Hoppy Yogi” events that combine brews and core power yoga, while New York-based “Beer Fit Club” hops from NYC brewery to NYC brewery for yoga events each month. Some of these classes use pints of pilsners and IPAs as props, intended to increase mindfulness and improve balance. Other classes call on attendees to inhale the beers, parcel out smells and aromas, sip and find flavor profiles they might not otherwise find in a typical beer-drinking setting. What these various hybrid classes seem to have in common is a focus on community. While in a typical yoga session people might roll up their mats, stow away their blocks, slip on their shoes and drive home, a brewery yoga session encourages participants to stick around, have a beer and mingle.

And that’s just what happened at ManaFirkin on Sunday. The participants stayed behind at the conclusion of the event to enjoy a complimentary beer, converse and talk dog. A family had even inquired after Hope, a 2-year-old Italian greyhound mix.

All such adoption inquiries were directed to Jessica Sheils and Jennifer and Matthew Orlik, co-founders of New Jersey Misfits Canine Rescue.

Sheils partners with a rescue in San Antonio, Texas, where the puppies at Sunday’s event were transported from. “There are so many more dogs than there are people to help them, and if I could make just a little bit of a difference in one dog’s life, then I’ve done it. I've done something right.”

The event raised $350 for the Little Egg Harbor-based rescue and may have even led a few pups to their forever homes. A job well done for all parties involved.

By the end of the yoga session, Mitchell had instructed the participants to settle into Savasana. The room was quiet for a moment as the yogis settled onto their backs, clenching their muscles tightly before releasing them for final relaxation. All was still until Clint, a Chihuahua mix, took a running start and leapt from one unsuspecting belly to another. The two victims grunted, and the room erupted into laughs and a stampede of tiny pooches. Savasana was over almost as quickly as it had begun.

To catch a glimpse of which rescue puppies were at the event, visit http://njmcr.rescueme.org/. More information about Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses can be found on the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/doggynosesandyogaposes/.

— Sarah Hodgson

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