Goat Yoga is sweeping the globe and there’s a good reason why. The joy and laugher people experience when crawling on all fours with goats frolicing around or on them is non-stop. Goats are highly social animals, they do best in herds but the interaction they have with humans is different than other barnyard critters. This social behavior along with some amazing agility is what draws people to caprines. If you’ve never seen goats jump along a cliff side or reach ungettable heights you’ve not been looking closely at our four legged friends.
The science is in about the holistic benefit of working closely with animals. When humans interact with our furry friends they release dopamine and oxytocin and decrease cortisol which is the stress hormone. So our craving to be with these animals comes for a real and necessary desire for wellness. With most of us in the world being a few generations off of the family farm, this craving is strong and one bond that isn’t going to break anytime soon.
Why did we get into goat yoga? As with most family farms there is a struggle to meet the market demands, costs, and resources needed to be a successful farmer. With so much dependence upon big agriculture the small farmer must find a niche to supply or they risk going under before even beginning. That’s what we found in running our farm, after one year of putting blood, sweat, and tears into our passion project we were desperate to find our niche. Our goats Nettie and Amos were the first animals we purchased for our farm, we got them for the purpose of keeping brush clear and eating plants that our other animals pass up. Almost a year to the day of bringing them to the farm they blessed us with triplets who we affectionately call TLC – T-Boz, Left-Eye, and Chilli. We were simply in love with goats and wanted more.
And more, and more… we purchased our next batch of goats from a small farm in middle Tennessee that also ran a preschool, these goats had been handled and interacted within a way that was different from ours, they were incredibly social. Each time we would go outside our new goats were there wanting love and affection from us. This group of goats had fantastic names like, Tanya Tucker, June Carter Cash, her babies Willie and Nelson, and a beautiful buck named Turbo. We were smitten! About two weeks after our purchase, that farm called us and asked if we would buy the rest of their small herd and we didn’t hesitate. Minnie Pearl, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Valentine, Sparta, Chubbs, & Koda joined our herd, and we were blessed with Snickers and Pumpkin, and later Bella and Charlie to our farm family.
When we first posted pictures of our Spring babies a friend of ours shared a link to goat yoga out in Oregon and asked if we could do this on our farm. We chuckled and said sure as soon as the cold, wet weather passed we would find a way to make that happen. Still we needed to find a way to pay the bills and Max was a firm believer in goat-landscaping as a business, Jamie thought Max was crazy. In April when Jamie was reading a post in the popular “Next Door” app, she found a request for someone asking about goats for brush clearing and Jamie’s jaw dropped as she arranged for our first landscaping gig late in April. From there social media has driven our little company forward so fast our four legged feet were scurrying to keep up. With each social media post we made about goat landscaping we had requests for goat yoga.
With both Max and Jamie having training and background in Social Work and community organizing we were quick to meet the request and we held our first class on June 10th and it’s been goat, goat, goating ever since. In the summer heat we sidelined our landscaping crews and put our focus fully on yoga. Our herd has grown even bigger as we were hit with the demand for more baby goats. Mac, Otis, Frankie Sinatra, Sheep, Penelope, Harvey Milk, Miles Davis, Noah, Raul, Maximus, Levi, Mush, Rootbeer Float, Liberty, Poindexter, Wigglesworth, and a few more are in our rotation for yoga classes. Many of these babies were purchased from small farms throughout Tennessee and as far as Kentucky and Alabama.
With the care and handling of these young goats, they are incredibly tame and playful with humans. Many people ask what our plan is for these goats as they grow “too big” to do yoga. First we’ve focused on smaller breeds like Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats, so in some cases there may not be a “too big.” For those goats that do get too large or uninterested in hanging out with humans doing yoga they will join our landscaping crews. Where they will be chewing up brush throughout Tennessee, and when it’s time they will retire to our farm and live out the goat life on our 47 acre wonderland.
Shenanigoats Yoga and Landscaping has become a great resource for city living folks to have a real and personal interaction with these amazing creatures, and have we mentioned their agility? Jumping, leaping, running, twisting, balancing, and frolicly playing is what draws instantaneous laughter and awe from people. We’ve heard more than one person say as they show up for class they are just here for the goats, so on another level these goats are introducing people to the benefits of yoga as a practice. Whether you’re a first timer or a regular yogi all people agree there is something special about yoga with goats.