FRANKFORD, Del. — Just after sunrise, before the summer sun gets too hot, it's time for early morning yoga.
"A lot of beginners come to this; people who've never done yoga before," said yoga instructor Andrea Hoopes.
In this yoga class, though, finding your zen here can be a challenge.
"I just felt so silly the whole time," said Connie Sih. "They were definitely distracting."
Part of the blame for that distraction falls squarely on their classmates and their long tails.
Welcome to kangaroo yoga.
"They're just they're such a different animal,” said Rachel Ejzak of Barn Hill Preserve in Delaware. "They're actually the largest species of marsupial. We have eight red kangaroos in here and two wallabies in our yard."
Three times a week, yogis get up close and personal with these kangaroo classmates, hailing from down under.
"Some are surrenders. Some are from other facilities that no longer need them or can take care of them," said Barn Hill Preserve’s Zach Bova.
However, it is the concern about kangaroos in the wild that led to all of this two years ago when massive wildfires devastated Australia.
"A large portion of the kangaroos and wallabies' habitats were destroyed by the fires,” Ejzak said, "and we were trying to think of what ways we could fundraise, but I thought, 'Well, people do yoga with goats. Why can't we do yoga with our kangaroos?'"
With that, the idea took off.
"It's been a big hit,” Ejzak said. “People really enjoy it for sure."
Yet, they needed to find an instructor willing to... co-teach.
"They're really rambunctious,” said yoga instructor Andrea Hoopes. "It's very healing for some people. We had the Wounded Warrior Project out here last week. The kangaroos are very curious, and it allows people to let their guard down."
Shelby Sih and her mom, Connie, came out to the class for the first time, unsure of what to expect.
"I was just looking around and having a great time giggling,” Connie said. “I just thought this was so fun and I do think their personalities are wild."
The preserve’s kangaroos are friendly and their fur is soft. Most of the students holding yoga poses often stop mid-pose, just to pet them.
"I didn't really think it was going to be real," Sih said. "I had heard that they maybe weren't the friendliest animals, and so, I think being here and seeing and just how friendly and loving and kind of charismatic, like they were really silly. So, yeah, it definitely gave me a new appreciation of them."
It's an appreciation that Barn Hill Preserve hopes will spread through the yoga class and help highlight the importance of protecting habitats for all creatures.
"They're here to serve as kind of an ambassador for their species," Ejzak said. "That way, they know a little bit more about the animals in the wild and don't have to go and disturb them out there, so we can kind of keep them safe."