I‘m usually not one for hot new wellness trends, or gimmicky workouts. And yet somehow, this past weekend, I found myself splayed out among many teensy weensy, super adorable goats for an hour long class of Caprine Vinyasa, aka baby goat yoga. And I loved it.
I’ve been a regular practitioner of yoga for more than 20 years, and it’s truly been the one form of athletic minded wellness that has been a staple in my life. Whether in group classes or my daily solo practice at home, I’ve found that regular yoga stretching and breathing helps keep my anxiety more manageable.
Last month, a handful of local friends started posting about baby goat yoga—a class where you’re led in an hour of Vinyasa flow practice, while baby goats romp about. I’ll admit, I may have rolled my eyes a bit at first. I’m tired of trying to hook folks in to any sort of exercise with gimmicks like this. But at the same time… baby goats! My love of all things tiny and soft won out and I signed up for a 9AM Sunday class, which cost $30 and took place in a beautiful studio in a repurposed old mill.
While Oregon’s Lainey Morse is considered to be the founder of Goat Yoga, this animal infused yoga trend started picking up steam last year as there were a noticeable amount of classes popping up all over the country. Goat yoga sessions were even offered up at Summit, a three day long lecture festival that includes speakers like Jeff Bezos, Jane Fonda, and Shonda Rhimes.
Baby goat yoga occurs for a limited time each spring, a few weeks after the first of the newborns begin arriving on Sage Meadow Farm. Joe and Stan McCoy run the farm together, raising goats and creating luxurious (and heavenly smelling) goat milk soap. The yoga classes began last year as a fundraiser, with the idea that yoga would be a lot more fun with the playful antics of baby goats. While the McCoys had hoped to raise $500, they ended up raising $5,500, which they donated to their local food pantry, animal shelter, and farmer’s market. This year, they added even more charity recipients, sold out every single class (including a few extra that they tacked on at the end), and raised over $10,000!
I’ll admit to scrolling through Sage Meadow Farm’s baby goat pictures a few days before the class. It may have caused some over-excitement. These kids were simply precious, from their large eyes to their floppy ears and shaky legs. I couldn’t wait.
I arrived at the location 15 minutes early, eager to score a spot that would somehow provide for the most baby goat interaction. There were 29 other people there, as they cap the classes at 30 for the comfort of both participants and goats. I had already told myself to think of this experience as something new entirely and not an average yoga class. After all, does your yoga class come equipped with two men who stand in the corner, spray bottle and paper towels in hand in case of any little baby goat oopsies? (For all of you already flinching about possible goat droppings, relax! The goats were all milk fed and not on solids, and I only saw one goat urinate, and that was after the class and nobody got soiled.)
Before all the goats were released upon the class, Stan took a few minutes to talk about the farm, goat safety, and the fundraising aspect to the class. In addition to being mindful of our bodies in relation to the goats, we were told not to stick our fingers in the goats’ mouths, no matter how cute it would be. It was also clear from the way he spoke that Stan has a special place for both goats and yoga. Then he handed us over to our fearless leader, Audrey Blaisdell, our yoga teacher. Audrey let us know that she’d be teaching a full flow that day, but that there was no right or wrong way to “do” Caprine Vinyasa. You could practice the entire class, or you could spend the hour snuggling a kid. Either was perfectly acceptable and welcome. Then, a back door opened and a herd of the tiniest, most adorable baby goats entered. I completely squeed.
I’m not a squee-er, and yet, there is no other response to a bunch of baby goats hopping all around, some splaying out because they ran faster than their spindly legs could move them. They looked so joyful and happy and I could not stop smiling. I just stared in awe as they made soft noises and took in everything around them.
Audrey started class, and for the first few minutes, I followed along, until a soft sandy baby boy scampered toward me and began nuzzling my forehead when I was in child’s pose. And then the chewing began. To be fair, we had been warned before class about the chewing habits of baby goats. And there was something so soothing about being snuggled by a baby goat while they lazily munched on my bleached locks (which probably really resembled straw for them, as more showed up to the hair buffet).
The rest of the class was a combination of me squealing out in joy whenever a goat did something hilarious (jump up and kick its legs, climb on a fellow participant’s back, climb on me, slipping on a piece of paper and spinning around like a disjointed ballerina). And I did get some yoga in as well. Some warrior poses and a triangle. A couple downward dogs and a few planks. But mostly, my focus was on the goats.
After class I realized how much lighter and happier I felt. While I may not have gotten a full practice, I did receive a serious boost from the class. The laughter and smiling the goats elicited was just as therapeutic as a restorative class could be for me. I felt more in tune with my body and emotions, and my brain was shooting off some extra serotonin from all the goat joy.
Baby goat yoga might seem like a silly trend, but if you can allow yourself a new experience, you might be pleasantly surprised. As long as the goats are happy and well cared for and you don’t mind the possibility of a little goat tinkle, then getting some physical and spiritual well being while frolicking with a few baby goats, might be right up your alley. Until next spring…