As a somewhat lapsed yogi, I went in search of how to get my downward dog back on track. So, what could possibly drag me out of bed on a cold, damp day? The opportunity to lay on a bed of hay under a tin roof with 15 other yogis and a dozen little goats. Yep. I tried goat yoga and loved every minute of it.
The goats were kept in a penned area…smart so one doesn’t make a run for it. You can’t help but smile when you see tiny goats running around, eating hay, with little interest in their new visitors. As I laid down on my mat and got organized, I felt slightly snubbed for the first few minutes, until the largest goat of the group, Vanilla Ice, came over to say hi. He also left a present on the edge of my mat. Keeping in mind the goats are not house trained, I pointed out the gift to the organizer. Apparently, if the goats leave some pebbles, you can ‘shake and flip’, but if it is a straight up disrespect, your mat is changed out and cleaned for you. With a new mat and my eyes on Vanilla Ice, I laid down and settled into the noises, smells and energy around me.
Where goat yoga started is a bit fuzzy as you cannot trademark the name ‘goat yoga’ anymore than you can the name ‘hot yoga’. Lainey Morse of Oregon’s The Original Goat Yoga appears to be one of, if not the early pioneer of mixing goats with yoga. My class was run by Melina Morsch, owner of Fox Den Yoga in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Luckily, it was also held at Small Talk Vineyards (bonus) where we sampled three different ciders to warm up before class. This vineyard has a cool vibe to it with great phrases on their bottles and quotes on the wall…all things I have said lately. The tasting room is very comfortable and convenient to pick up a six-pack after yoga class!
Although goat yoga may not be for the most serious of yoga practitioners, I highly recommend it as an ‘add-on’ to any regular practice. You won’t zen out like you do in a typical yoga studio, but you will laugh and smile more which is equally as therapeutic.
All around me fellow yogi’s giggled while goats jumped on their backs while planking (like I needed more weight to stay upright!). The goats had their own way of taking you out of your comfort zone as the class is equally about what is happening around you as the yoga itself. The goats have no hesitation in finding new friends. They walked right up to me, stared me straight in the eyes and it was love at first bleat.
I made several attempts at a ‘goat selfie’ but they were having none of it. My new furry friends were great for working on my balance as I tried to tune out what was happening around me….until I was hip-checked by a passing goat and fell into a fit of laughter. Laughing straight from your belly is also therapeutic, right?
We started our practice in lotus pose, that cross-legged, straight back pose which I usually need help unfolding myself from. We stretched into downward dog, curled up into child’s pose and balanced our way through bird-dog pose while goats roamed aimlessly, waiting for their cuddles
Our class was about 40 minutes of hatha yoga and 20 minutes of goat cuddling so we could spend some quality time with our friends. On a nice day, the class is held in the vineyard, ‘under the Niagara sun’, which is another bonus.
The goats belong to Pascal and Trish of Triple C Farm, where the goats live in a private livestock sanctuary. Triple C Farm participates in many rescues and adoption programs. This goat yoga program is approved by Health Canada and all the goats are vaccinated and veterinarian approved! These are important considerations when looking for a local class.
As we continued through our poses, life became more interesting. One little goat took a short cut under my downward dog and pulled at my shoelaces and hoodie strings. In table-top position, our new furry friends hitched a ride on our backs or jumped from back-to-back.
It was hard to stay still or in the moment as we laughed until we cried.
Including goats in my yoga practice provided a sense of calm to the space, They were fun to watch and made me realize that life doesn’t have to be serious all the time.
Vanille Ice seemed to have my number and it didn’t help that he was the largest of the goats but still thought he was a baby.
Little Drake was one of my faves as he tugged at clothing, flopped down on mats, found a home in your coat or stood alone in the corner like he was in a time-out.
Another little goat walked around in a zebra cover-up. I called him ‘undercover goat’. He laid down in a fellow yogi’s lap and snoozed for the entire class!
It wasn’t hard to search for ways to describe my experience: calming, stress-free, and thought provoking. I was surprised at how social and friendly the goats were. They were willing to befriend perfect strangers and left us feeling better for the interaction. Although this experience is one that I truly enjoyed, it won’t form the sole foundation for my yoga practice. This was a great way to spend time with friends while doing something that I enjoy and I will certainly do it again. It was also great knowing that the proceeds of the class went to support an animal sanctuary. What a great way to end the class!
Until next time…. Namaste.