Outdoors

Goat Yoga

A practice in laughter

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Baby goat yoga is an internet sensation. Videos of crying kids (goat kids, that is) leaping on people doing yoga poses have been shared abundantly on Facebook lately.

But Nicole Schierberl of Wickersham’s Goat Boat Farm and yoga instructor Stormie Romero thought that baby goat yoga could be more than a gimmick. They would use the idea to provide opportunities for people to connect to local agriculture and animals, and generally be in nature—something city folks don’t always get enough of.

Romero and Schierberl are both farmers, and wanted to use outdoor yoga classes to feature the bountiful agriculture in Whatcom County. Schierberl hosted a recent class at the flower and meat farm she operates with her partner Jon Paulson, where her goats nuzzled attendees and nibbled their shoes. Whatever pose and position people were in, the goats clambered all over, bleating for attention.

“It’s not really distraction, so much as a practice in laughter,” Romero said.

Laughter there was. Participants from age 6 to 66 sat on mats and adjusted their bodies, whether because of their own comfort and muscle tension, or because a goat was attempting to eat their hair. Romero called out poses, suggestions and reminders to breathe, while participants broke out in giggles. Some gave into temptation and just sat and petted the “kids” that willingly ran toward them. 

“Do what makes you feel good,” Romero said of the class. “If that good is being in meditation, great, because I would love to provide that space, but if that good is, ‘I just wanna chill with this baby animal, I provide that too.”

Practicing yin yoga with baby goats takes you out of your comfort zone. Romero calls yin yoga the “art of becoming comfortable in discomfort.”

“A lot of life is uncomfortable, and being able to be in that area of [discomfort] takes the power away from it,” Romero said. Sitting with discomfort, resting with it, is a huge part of yoga practice, and to Romero, a “widely important life lesson.”

Kimberly McAllister of Bellingham said the yoga-to-goat ratio was perfect. “If I take yoga too seriously, then I’m taking myself too seriously,” she added. McAllister and her friend, Amy Lawson, said they have never laughed so much during yoga before.

“Its a good combination of the mindfulness practice and being outside in nature,” said participant Rachel Ramondetta. “I don’t feel like the goats are distracting, I actually feel like they’re pretty grounding and centering—bringing you back to the here and now.”

Baby Goat Yoga takes place at Wickersham’s Goat Boat Farm from 11am-2pm weekends through Labor Day, and once during the week. Entry is $45 and include tours of the farm, the class, a flower crown, a light lunch and a bouquet to take home. Info: http://www.goatboatfarm.com

Aaron Neville
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