Llama-Stay on the Farm
Llamaste bags are inspired by the llama who acts as a companion carrying your cargo and everyday needs. Because not everyone owns a llama or is able to own one, Llamaste bags serve that purpose. Since I personally do not own a llama (although my wife does - namely me), and I live in an urban environment, I make a special effort every now and then to visit the creatures that I love so much.
Not knowing many llama farms in the local vicinity, imagine my joy when I was contacted via my website by Second Wind Farm, a llama farm located in Central New Jersey, just a little over an hour from my home in Brooklyn, New York. Second Wind Farms is owned and directed by Bev Vienckowski (a.k.a. Miss Bev), whose mission is to spread love and awareness of llamas. At the farm Bev organizes visits and walks through the woods, bern and the lake giving her visitors the opportunity to bond with her llamas, and educates those who have not had much experience with llamas about their wonderful qualities, helping them to become more aquatinted with them.
Many people, she explained, have misconceptions about llamas, one of the most classic ones - that they spit or do not seem affectionate right away. Llamas generally spit at each other mostly out of the need for others to respect their personal space, or as a way of turning down a sexual proposition - in essence, the spitting is a way of saying "dude, back off." Llamas are actually social creatures, and just like humans, they do best when there is another llama with which they can interact. They are also loyal to their human companions, however, also just like human nature, a certain amount of trust needs to be established before they begin to warm up - llamas typically use their sense of smell and breath as a way to communicate and build that trust.
As Yogis we can learn a great deal from this type of introduction, after all breath is one of the main elements of yoga. The Sanskrit word that is normally used for breath is prana, which in its literal context means "life force." Breath more more than just that is needed in order to generate your life force - without breathing we would not have the ability to live! Llamas instinctively know this and learn about others through breathing and can intuitively ascertain a number of personality traits - is the person trustworthy, nice, they can even determine whether one is a carnivore or vegan - for obvious reasons they prefer the latter and one of the things I made sure not to do was have any kind of food derived from animal sources the night before.
The first of the llamas to give me a prana check was Gunner, me a sniff and a few breaths. There was Carbon, the short and stocky one with a playful personality who enjoyed posing for shots. Jim-E, marbled and tall, was the alpha, sort of the undisputed leader of the herd who all the llama followed. There was the classic white soft-furred Eduardo, who hummed as I got a few hugs in and the tan and white Clemente who makes a great running companion. It was fun day and the team of llamas showed great cooperation and trust as they got to try on their llamaste bags and walk as if they were on their way to their vinyasa practice.
In addition to being really chill and great companions, the felt from llamas is really soft and great for making warm materials. Some of Bev's specialties are the llama loofas, scented soap lovingly wrapped in the fiber of the farm's residents.. There is also The Llama Fiber Cooperative of North America where members who send them fiber from their llamas can buy goods wholesale, like socks, blankets and other goods to keep you warm.
This coming spring, there will also be the opportunity to attend a vinyasa class in the bern in the company of the llamas, courtesy of yours truly, the llama yogi of llamaste, and more information will be available as the spring approaches. When it was time to go, I turned to look once more at the llamas as they relaxed in the field watching me head toward the car with the bags which they willingly posed in for me, and I really felt like I could "llama-stay" with them all day. My thanks and gratitude once again to the Vienckowskis for being so generous, accommodating, supportive and allowing me to model their llamas in Llamaste Bags at Second Wind Farm and to Carbon, Clemente, Eduardo, Gunner, and Jim-E for being so patient and wonderful sports in this memorable experience.