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Yoga at Skylands Animal Sanctuary

Imagine starting your day with an inspired, guided yoga practice and ending it with cow kisses and volunteer work. Could it get any better? With new Sunday morning yoga at Skylands you can do just that!

Mary Barletta, left, said finding yoga after veganism was a revelation. She later completed her 500 hour teacher training in the Baptiste style.

Full-time Skylands caretaker and resident, Mary Barletta, is excited to be teaching the new by-donation yoga class at the sanctuary. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do here for a while,” she said. “I see yoga and veganism as two sides of the same coin.”

Indeed, yoga and veganism have similar core values. Ahimsa, the ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings, is also the first pillar of the Yoga Sutras, one of the foundational texts on the practice of yoga which was compiled nearly 2500 years ago.

Beyond that, maintaining a yoga practice has many benefits for animal activists. “Being vegan is easy; it’s dealing with a non-vegan world that is extremely difficult,” Barletta explained. “A yoga practice gives us a place to process and discharge the strong emotions that come when we advocate for animals.”

Before finding yoga, Barletta admitted she was often an “angry vegan.” She calls finding yoga years later “a revelation” and that she felt more drawn to activism because of it.

Yoga classes take place in Skylands' beautiful ballroom. Photo credit: Carol Rodriguez

“Mary has the best energy,” said Carol Rodriguez, who drives over an hour to attend Barletta’s Sunday morning classes, which are held in the sanctuary’s ballroom. “She’s really good with how she guides you into the poses with only her voice, and the room itself has a beautiful energy.”

The classes are vinyasa flow style and run from 10:00 am to 11:15 am. Some previous experience is helpful, but not required. Thanks to the generosity of Jade Yoga, a limited number of mats are available to use during class, or you can bring your own. There is a $20 suggested donation per student, and all funds will go directly to the “kids” at Skylands.

Although there are no regularly scheduled tours at this time, students who attend yoga are welcomed to stay after class to volunteer. “Spending time with the kids that live here is really the best medicine for vegans- just remember to bring some clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty,” Barletta said.

Vegan in NJ also hosts volunteer groups twice monthly in our Meetup group. Pictures below are from previous volunteer days.

If you have any questions, feel free to message Mary directly on Instagram (@veganarmy269) or on her Facebook page, where events will be added weekly.

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