Kids with Kids at Goat Yoga
A Different Kinda of Flexibility in Your Yoga Practice
By Ann Carin Niland
I don’t know how I goat here. Kids playing with kids. Whatever floats your goat. Totes ma goats. Okay, now that that is out of my system…
Goat Yoga is the most ridiculous bit of fun your summer is lacking. When I think about yoga, tranquility, focus, and stylish yoga gear come to mind. But add goats to the mix and all the seriousness leaves the atmosphere. There are goat snuggles, goat kisses, laughter, and more than a few goat farts.
“It’s opening your heart to new experiences,” said Kara O’Loughlin, 37. O’Loughlin leads the goat yoga class and has been teaching yoga off and on for nine years. She explained that goat yoga is different from a more serious and austere yoga practice because it’s a form of animal therapy. In this class people let go of their preconceived notions of yoga, and are able to find release in the adorably unexpected.
“I love them so much mommy,” said Myra Niland, age five and tree quarters. She spent most of her time oblivious to the flow of the class, opting instead to feed grass to the baby goats. And who could blame her? I stood, laughing, in Warrior with a goat between my legs and forgot all about the difficulty of the pose. Out in the garden, next to the chicken coop, surrounded by sunshine and fresh air my daughter cackled when a baby goat name Sobotta nuzzled her cheek while she did her childhood version of downward dog. These docile goats with their long eyelashes and soft nibbles were delightfully refreshing and created long lasting memories for my daughter and I.
“It’s fun to see how much joy the goats bring to people’s lives with their cute and silly tendencies,” said Lauren Linkemyer, 31. One of Linkemyer’s many passions has been to reconnect people to animals, and she is able to do that, in part, by bringing her goats to different events such as block parties, birthday parties, and after demand from the grange community a Linkemyer decided to bring all of her baby goats to yoga. She was inspired by the personality of her most beloved goat Greta Garbo, who like all of Linkemyer’s kinder goats, is bottle fed. This practice makes them behave more like pets then livestock. But in a world that loves puppies and kitties, why bring goats to yoga?
“Goats are something that people don’t get to interact with, because society is so disconnected from so many different animals,” said Linkemyer. At their farm, she and her husband Macdonald (yes that’s really his name) who goes by Mack, once found forever homes for nine litters of puppies. After getting their feet wet caring for so many animals they decided to take a chicken keeping class. That opened their eyes to what it’s like to care for agriculture.
“Instead of micromanaging and controlling the animal and it’s health, you make sure it has room to roam…” said Linkemyer. “Having room to roam is probably the most important thing for keeping the animals healthy.” Linkemyer has filled her Aptos home, Kinderwood Farms, with dogs, chickens, cows, turkeys, ducks, and goats. Their animals roam freely over their steep hillside land that’s blanketed with ivy and sprinkled with redwoods. One of those redwoods has a tree house wrapped around it, but not just any treehouse, a whimsical, turkey-filled tree house. They give tours of there farm and they have begun to hold cheese making classes. And they live a life connected, loving, and respecting the food they consume in hopes that the trend will catch on.
They heard about Goat Yoga being done in Portland and decided to try it here. It’s working.
And they aren’t the only goat show in town.
Heart Farm in Soquel has Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Silkie Chickens, bunnies, baby doll sheep and therapy dogs. They offer tours, physical yoga (asana) with the goats, who have learned to give adjustments. They also offer birthday parties, team building exercises and small weddings with a wonderful menagerie and yoga with a farm-to-table meal at a beautiful farm.
“Yoga can be defined as how you choose to engage with the world,” says co-owner Samantha Matthews, who has been a physiotherapist and teacher for 26 years. “We choose happiness through practicing with animals that make us smile.”
You can reach them at heartfarmsantacruz.org
You can find Kinderwood Farms on Facebook, or on their farm’s Instagram @kinderwood_farms.
It’s so much fun you’ve goat to try it. Sorry, last one I promise.