Watch these elephants do yoga at the Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo

If you’re feeling a little unmotivated about your daily workout, here’s a dose of perspective: Even elephants are doing yoga now.

This news comes courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s, which covered this progressive approach to animal care at the Houston Zoo. Although maybe progressive isn’t quite the right word, since the zookeepers there have actually been exercising their elephants this way for almost a century.

According to elephant supervisor Kristin Windle, having the pachyderms perform a series of poses is a good way to check-in on their overall health.

“So this is the time where we see everything about them,” Windle told Chron. “We’ll get a good look at their skin, we’ll check their feet, we’ll check their mouth. But we’re also looking at their range of motion and how they’re moving so we can know exactly what they’re feeling by these training sets.”

Elephant Tess does yoga with Kristin Windle
Houston Zoo

These poses run the gamut of what you might find in your own yoga class. Guided by a trainer’s gestures and the promise of food, the elephants do side stretches, leg raises and yes, the old reliable downward dog. One elephant even performed a crow pose for’s photographer, which was captured in a TikTok video. There’s a showoff in every class.

@chroncom This elephants crow pose is better than ours 😳 #yoga #yogi #elephant #zoo ♬ original sound – Chron

All this is pretty impressive for animals that can weigh more than 10,000 pounds, but it’s all apparently crucial in getting the elephants the movement they need. Much like us, elephants are prone to a variety of ailments if they don’t shake off the dust once in awhile. Windle says that one older elephant gets extra sessions to help with her arthritis, but otherwise these yoga breaks are completely optional. If the elephants don’t want to participate that day, they can simply walk off.

With Asian elephants still on the endangered list, it’s nice to see that at least some of them are thriving. Flexibility isn’t a a trait we often think of when it comes to these gentle creatures, so if the world’s largest land-roving mammals can do it, we can all certainly give it a try. A regular yoga regimen can boost your mood, improve your circulation, and guard against injuries — and apparently it helps to keep you trim whether you’re trying to lose a couple pounds or a few hundred.

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About the Author
Tod Caviness
Tod covered everything from nightlife to Orlando's literary scene (yes, it has one) during his 11 years with the Orlando Sentinel. These days, he's a freelance journalist and recovering poet who lives in Central Florida with his lovely wife, two brilliant kids and one underachieving dog. Visit Scripps News to see more of Tod's work.

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