Yoga 4 Paws raises record high $2,400 for humane society
By Taylor J. Hale
Special to the Gazette
STEVENS POINT — A tandem reverence for yoga and adorable animals led to the fifth annual Yoga 4 Paws event this Dec. 8 at the Stevens Point Parks and Rec Department. This year drew record numbers for the program, with over 70 attendees, and over $2,400 raised in cumulative proceeds for the Humane Society of Portage County.
“We started Yoga 4 Paws five years ago in the studio space where I run Ana Marie Yoga,” said Ana Merchak, owner of Ana Marie Yoga. “We have held it at the Parks and Rec building for two years because of the extra space. Our first year we had around 20 people come out, now we have over 70 registered for the event.”
The Yoga 4 Paws program started when Merchak and students at her yoga studio found they shared a similar interest: animals. She then reached out to the Humane Society to discuss her plan of action. They were thrilled about Merchak’s fervor.
“There is a kind of union between us all who come,” Merchak explained. “We all love yoga and animals. But we are here to be a part of something bigger. We want to bring good to our community.”
The program consists of participants purchasing tickets to join a yoga session taught by Merchak. She guides the crowd through various yoga positions while speaking upliftingly about animals. The process feels organically curated by the experienced instructor.
“It is powerful to commit energy to join together to help the animals while we practice,” Merchak said.
The program also had a raffle featuring contributions from local hot-spots like the Point of Beauty Salon, Hawaiian Tanning Studios and more. A special four-legged friend from the Humane Society made an appearance, too, a young pup named Loki.
“The shelter brought a gorgeous dog to show people and talk about adoption,” Merchak said.
The pet-centric yoga session also comes with custom shirts from Point Embroidery. The fun, charming shirts have become a staple of the program. They let patrons show support.
“Kim and Craig Wold at the embroidery shop helped with the design and everything,” Merchak said. “They do an amazing job. The shirts really amp up everything to the next level.”
Since the creation of the event in 2014, Yoga 4 Paws has blossomed into an ebullient and progressive program that assists in the funding of crucial Humane Society curricula. For more info on Yoga 4 Paws visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1038183469688388/.