Goat Yoga at the Bowen Family Farm: a new spin on an ancient art

31 Jul

At the Bowen Family Farm on Lake Road, yoga has gone to the goats.

You can find yoga classes pretty much anywhere. I’ve seen classes held outdoors in parks, at breweries, in a greenhouse, even accompanied by dogs. But The Bowen Family Farm has come up with a twist that I’d never seen before.

It’s called Goat Yoga. Basically, it’s your normal yoga class, complete with all of the yoga poses we know and love. But while you’re moving through your cat/cow, there’s a good chance that a goat or two might wander by to see what you’re up to.

For a typical Goat Yoga class at the farm, owner Linda Bowen coaxes two of her six goats onto the floor to wander among the students (and sometimes adds rabbits and kittens to the mix). She’ll choose two of the smaller goats, since lying on a yoga mat just inches from the horned animals might be intimidating for someone who’s not familiar with them.

A frequent question Linda gets is if the goats will jump on the students’ backs. That actually doesn’t happen. At least not anymore.

“When the goats were babies, they did jump on our backs,” Linda said. “Now they’re just sort of a distraction.” But that’s actually a good thing, she added. Learning how to center yourself and tune out life’s distractions is a big part of the practice of yoga. She does have to remind everyone at the beginning of every class, however, that sometimes the goats think students are fellow goats and might greet them with a friendly, albeit unexpected, head butt.

That not-getting-distracted part was rather difficult for some of the students in last Saturday morning’s class, which was made up mostly of (human) kids, many of whom had never done yoga before. The adorable bunnies hopping around and goats meandering in between the mats proved too cute to ignore for some of the students, who, as the class began, seemed as interested in petting the friendly animals as they were downward dog … ing. 

The yoga “studio” itself is actually in an old 1860’s barn, where Linda has cleared out enough floor space to accommodate up to 18 yoga mats. Once all of the mats are in place, she makes sure to fence off the doorway so the goats can’t escape, then spreads treats around the room so the goats will visit everyone. Once the class begins, it doesn’t take long for both students and animal helpers to get into the flow of things.

“The goats are a little ‘off’ in the beginning,” Linda said, “(but) by the end they start sleeping on somebody’s mat. They’re relaxed and chill out and are very happy.” 

And after all, that’s what the whole yoga experience is about.

One good thing about COVID, Linda said, “was that it slowed life down and it brought us back to basics, and that’s what I think this is to me. The yoga practice is trying to bring you back, slow your pace and focus within, and not so much on the external stuff.”

Goat Yoga is held at the Bowen Family Farm, 833 Lake Rd., every Saturday morning through August at 9 a.m. Space is limited, so visit their Facebook page for more information and to register.

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(posted 7/31/2022)

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