Meditation sessions with Blacktip Island’s native rock iguanas have proved popular at one island resort. (photo courtesy of James St. John)
The latest trend in yoga has been given a topical twist at Blacktip Island’s Blacktip Haven resort, where guests can now participate in yoga sessions while the island’s rock iguanas crawl around, on and over them.
“We wanted to get in on the goat yoga craze, but there’s no goats on the island,” yoga instructor Bindy Pigeon said. “Then an iguana wandered in on a yoga class. No one moved, so it stayed and ended up climbing on top of a prone student. That’s when the light bulb went off.
“Turns out, iguanas are better than goats,” Pigeon said. “They love the body heat, and once they settle in they’ll stay on your back or stomach or head for as long as you let them.”
The classes have proven popular with tourists and locals alike.
“It’s way better than plain yoga,” said Blacktip Haven guest Marlin White. “The interaction with nature helps you center yourself better physically and mentally. And there’s nothing quite like a resting iguana on a downward dog.”
Other students, though, saw drawbacks to meditation with the reptiles.
“It can be a bit of a distraction when one starts munching on your hair,” Blacktip resident Cori Anders said, “And you have to make sure they don’t poop on you. That’ll get you uncentered in a big-ass hurry. And those claws!”
Resort management stressed the classes are safe as well as eco-friendly.
“Sure, we had a couple of students get clawed,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “But the scratches don’t bleed much and we keep plenty of antibiotic cream on hand. You have to expect that with wild animals. It’s what makes our yoga sessions so effective.
“These iguanas aren’t trained or restrained or coerced in any way,” Havens said. “We toyed with land crab yoga, too, but there was no way to do that without catching the crabs and penning them here. And they wouldn’t stay still long enough to be therapeutic, anyway.”
Community leaders have embraced the classes.
“It’s something to do on the island that doesn’t involve alcohol,” the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “For Blacktip, that’s revolutionary, really.”
“People can laugh all they want, but this is just one more unique thing that draws visitors to Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The classes are so popular, Bindy’s turning students away. And Elena’s resort’s booked solid for the next six months.”
Pigeon shrugged off the nay-sayers.
“People can snicker all they want,” she said. “Iguana yoga’s the real deal and it’s here to namaste.”