Meet Dexter. He’s the “baby” on the farm and very photogenic. Zorro is an excellent climber and hopes to compete in the 2020 Goat Olympics. Rudy was voted “Most Popular” last year and Kathryn Nicolai, owner of ETHOS Yoga in Downtown Holly, feels that Rudy will retain her title. Rambo likes chin scratches, chewing on your hair, and long walks on the farm. These are just a few of the goofy, funny, friendly goats you will romp with in a Yoga On The Farm class. This is the second summer ETHOS has offered the unique yoga sessions, which are held at a farm in Holly in a charming, historic barn with an area designed just for yoga. Classes are held from June through October, and anyone can participate. Kids age 12 and up are welcome if accompanied by a guardian.
Yoga On The Farm was the idea of Darlene Anderson, a worker at the Holly farm. She wanted to do something at the barn that would be beneficial for people’s mental well-being. While searching for ideas on the internet, she stumbled across some groups in California who practice yoga with goats. With the farm’s owner, Anderson pursued a partnership with ETHOS Yoga and the first class was held in the spring of last year.
According to Nicolai, goat yoga is about learning how to play, and it is not only good for people, it’s good for the goats, too. There are ten pygmy goats at the farm. “And, there are two new babies this year!” she exclaims, adding that goats are a lot like toddlers. “They love to play and goat yoga is about connecting with an animal. As adults, we forget to play. It’s okay to just play.”
“They’re kids! They make everybody laugh and
smile so hard their faces hurt.”
– Kathryn Nicolai
While the students practice yoga, the goats wander around the room, chasing each other, and they let the students hug and cuddle them. “They play around with us, while we play around with yoga,” says the studio owner. The class lasts about an hour and there is usually time at the end to take photos and spend time with the goats. “Sometimes, the goats get a little rambunctious,” Nicolai admits. “They’re kids! They make everybody laugh and smile so hard their faces hurt.”
At the beginning of the class, each student gets a handful of goat food and they spend a few minutes getting to know the goats. Laughter and giggles can be heard throughout the barn as the students interact with the animals.
About 25 students attended the first 2018 class held in May. Prior to the class, Anderson and some other farm workers were busily grooming the goats. The goats played around joyfully and even climbed up on the back of one worker to crunch on a leaf from the tree above. “Goats evoke a good belly laugh, which many people are lacking in their everyday lives,” Anderson says. “They are the most loving creatures, and they adore humans and are totally fascinated with us. It’s hard to resist their bleating and their innocence.” She also says the goats seem to benefit from the tranquil setting yoga provides and some even fall asleep during the class.
“Goats evoke a good belly laugh, which many
people are lacking in their everyday lives.”
– Darlene Anderson
Students in the class taught by ETHOS Yoga Instructor, Laura Steinbacher, spread their mats and eagerly anticipated the arrival of the goats. “When the goats enter the barn, you can feel the lightness in the room,” Steinbacher shares. “It’s absolutely awesome!” exclaims Debbie Dawson, a returning student from last year. “When you see the goats, you just start giggling. I came back for some more fun.” Sue Cruz of Holly brought two friends to the class with her because she was so impressed with it. “You are laughing and smiling the whole time,” she reports. “You don’t think about anything else.”
The new goat babies, Captain and Dexter, were the first to be escorted into the class and were the stars of the show. Two of the goats put on their own special show in the center of the barn, rising up on their hind legs and butting heads, much to the students’ delight. The goats wandered all around the class, interacting with the students and were a joy to watch.
“The nice thing about yoga is that you leanr how to get quiet and stay in the moment,” says Nicolai. “Hug the goats – they love it. They are goofballs with a natural playfulness. Goat yoga is fun for everybody!”
For more information about ETHOS Yoga visit ethos.yoga/goat-yoga-on-the-farm/
Photography by Jennifer Hodney