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We Tried It: Yoga with Sloths at the Columbus Zoo

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire We Tried It: Yoga with Sloths at the Columbus ZooYoga teacher Karine Wascher met Sonny the Two-Toed Sloth at the Columbus Zoo to learn about rain forest conservation. Photo by Nancy Alkire.
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“It was a great event, and we are going to do this many times again,” stated Animal Programs Specialist Tiffany Dollins of the Columbus Zoo after the first ever yoga program at the zoo.

Recently, guests were treated to a lovely yoga-for-every-body class featuring three two-toed sloths, a light breakfast, mimosas, and a chance to mingle with sloths and other rain forest creatures. Funds raised from this “SlothVasana” will benefit the Columbus Zoo’s conservation programs.

The Columbus Zoo held “SlothVasana” on October 13, 2018 in the recently renovated Lakeside Pavilion.

sloth yoga at the zoo

Tiffany Dollins (front and center) with Karine Wascher (middle) and other yoginis doing the Two-Toed Sloth Love Sign. Photo by Brannon Rapp.

“We had thought about doing yoga at the Zoo for some time,” noted Dollins, “With their natural ‘meditation skills’ and calm, stretching movements, sloths seemed like a natural fit for the ambassador animal.”

Veteran Columbus yoga teacher, Karine Wascher, and multiple assistants, gave the 60-plus participants a relaxing yet toning yoga sequence. Wascher created the yoga program based on observing Sonny the Sloth at the Zoo and talking about sloth biology with Dollins.

“Their natural habitat is the canopy of tropical rain forests, so scents of fruits and trees [as found in essential oils] are part of their natural environment.,” she says.

Wascher co-created an internationally-practiced yoga program, Sekoia, based on those giant trees that are the lungs of the earth.

“Meeting with the spirit of Nature is part of my yoga,” she says. “It was a privilege to connect with the sloths’ calmness and channel it for the students in our class at the Columbus Zoo.”

sloth yoga at the zoo

Sloth Yoga. Photo by Tiffany Dollins, Animal Program Specialist, Columbus Zoo.

Positive comments from SlothVasana participants abounded including, “This exceeds all expectations” and “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!”

Sloths are fascinating: they have four-chambered stomachs and can take one month to digest a meal. Sloths learn what to eat by licking their mothers’ lips. They poop only once a week, and they are excellent swimmers. Sloths have enjoyed popularity recently; some sloth-related videos online have almost half a million views.

“Sloths are just amazing!” said yoga teaching assistant Amber Pinkerton.

“I had sloths at my wedding,” said yoga participant Jess Larkin.

“We will do this again,” said Dollins. “We were overwhelmed with the responses and everyone, including the sloths, seemed to have a good time.”

Find more information at columbuszoo.org.

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