Tiny goats are just damn adorable. Yoga is centering and rejuvenating. But does it make any sense to combine the two? For aficionados of goat yoga, the answer is a resounding “absolutely.”
Yes, it’s a real thing. No, the goats don’t do yoga; the people do.
It’s a craze that started a couple years ago in Ohio and spread via social media videos, showing a sunny pasture with a tiny goat perched atop a woman in child’s pose. It reached Western New York last summer and is now offered several times each summer by two pairs of yoga instructor/farmer partners. Brooke Ayoub of Cayuga Flow Yoga in Lancaster hosts sessions at Maybe Someday Farm in Marilla, while Love in Motion Yoga leads practitioners at Alpine Made in South Wales.
Goat yoga goes like this: Participants arrive at the farm, unroll their mats in a pasture, and spend a few minutes getting to know the goats before the instructor leads the 45-60 minute yoga practice. The setting is beautiful — green grass, gentle breeze, and sun salutations under the actual sun – providing an open, welcoming environment where even newbies feel comfortable.
“People feel intimidated to walk into a yoga studio sometimes,” says Kathleen Englehart, co-owner of Love in Motion Yoga. “This is outside, there’s excitement, there’s a little bit of a distraction from nervousness. Some transition into the studio after trying yoga that way first.”
As people do yoga, the goats, usually baby ones or small pigmy varieties, wander amongst the posing yogis and do goat things like munching on grass, jumping around — and completely ignoring everyone’s personal space as they closely inspect earrings, walk underneath people bridged in downward-facing dog, “baaa” and head-butt each other without regard, lay down on mats, and yes, sometimes raise a tail to drop a turd or two nearby. All of it makes the entire class erupt in giggles throughout the session, as balanced poses collapse into fits of laughter on mats.
After the mats are rolled up and the goats get a few last pets on their little heads, goat yoga participants can shop the farm — for pastured meat, poultry, and eggs at Maybe Someday Farm, and for goat milk soaps, salves, and lotions at Alpine Made.
“People definitely come for the ridiculousness of it,” says Lee Dobbins, who owns Maybe Someday Farm with his wife, Sarah. “Each goat has its own personality, and it makes for a unique experience that gets people outside and onto a real working farm.”
Fresh air. Stretching. Deep breaths. Belly laughs. Baby animal kisses. Farm-fresh goodies. What’s not to love about goat yoga?
Story topics: Wellness