Creating animal shapes to benefit homeless pets

Meg and Pip in the park

Meg and Pip in the Park
(Lancaster Newspapers)

A carnival of animals is inhabiting Buchanan Park this summer. Think panthers, gorillas, even komodo dragons prowling through the turfgrass. Leaping leopards, spinning monkeys, and dancing dogs all enlivening the grounds. And you can join them.

Budokon classes, a graceful hybrid of martial arts and yoga, are now taught each Wednesday and Friday afternoon from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the wooded clearing just south of the under-construction dogpark and west of the North Museum.

The agile movements of Budokon take their inspiration, and names, from the animal world, as participants embody the prowling, springing, and slithering actions inherent in each species.

“It’s fun being animals instead of all serious,” says student Marybeth Donahoe. “I think I have a new addiction.”

Instructor Meagin Krofcheck, who teaches the donation-based classes as a way to support the Humane League, isn’t surprised by the enthusiastic response of her students.
“It’s a fantastic thing, your entire body is integrated all of the time, moving in complete body awareness and precision,” she says. “There’s a beauty behind it, it looks effortless, but you have to have a balance of strength and flexibility that can be demanding.”

For flexible bodies, the demand of the practice is to build strength. For muscular bodies, learning how to move gracefully and fluidly is the challenge.

“It’s humbling for some people because you can’t muscle your way through it,” she says. For Krofcheck, who began the practice with a slight, flexible frame, gaining the strength and power to break boards with her hands and submit a 230-pound opponent has had a certain appeal.

“I like that it brings balance to your body. Budokon bodies have broad shoulders and big backs and tiny waists. Your shoulder and hip girdles are as equal as they can be. Your wrists get as strong as your ankles, your hands are as strong as your feet,” she says. “And I like that you don’t need any equipment to do it, no special place to do it, your body weight is enough, where ever you are is perfect.”

Classes begin with a slow-moving form of Sun Salutations that build core strength and create a feeling of lightness in the body. Then the menagerie of animals come in, requiring explosive, powerful movements that simply look like play. It’s no wonder students feel like children again, tumbling and creeping across the lawn.

“It’s unique, it’s a lot of fun, and it makes you feel ninja-like,” says participant Tammy Snyder. “It’s not like anything else.”

Classes end with a quiet meditation.

“It relieves so much stress and tension,” says Snyder.

Aside from the sheer fun of forming animal shapes, the local classes themselves were inspired by a love of furry companions. Krofcheck began the classes as a fundraiser to express her devotion to rescuing abandoned animals.

Krofcheck’s own dog Pip was a rescue, and “just donating an occasional can of dog food doesn’t come near the degree of joy and love this dog brings to me. I wanted to give back in a way that was closer to that feeling, donating something that I love and brings me joy.”

So Krofcheck sees teaching these donation-based classes as a perfect blend of her twin passions: both for this style of movement and to be of service to animals who need a home.

“The Budokon motto is: ‘The way you do anything is the way you do everything,’ “ says Krofcheck, who is a student of Budokon founder Cameron Shayne. “I will always make time to teach Budokon to people who want to learn it, and I will always do anything to help out animals who just want to be loved.”

In her mind, there’s no distinction between, sharing her expertise with her students and giving of her energy to help rescue abandoned animals.

“People get second chances,” she says, pointing out student Josh Himes who tore his rotator cuff lifting weights in the gym and now uses Budokon to build greater body awareness and control as he trains.

“I want animals to get the same second chances.”



Budokon and Paws for a Cause

Wednesdays and Fridays 5:30-6:30pm at Buchanan Park

Cost is by donation with proceeds to the Humane League

Bring water and wear clothes that allow for a full range of movement

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