In the middle of the Arizona desert lies a farm that has managed to combine two seemingly unrelated things — goats and yoga — into a fun-filled activity that leave participants talking about their experiences for months.
Sarah Williams, a yogi for over 20 years, teamed up with farmer April Gould to form Arizona Goat Yoga, where they offer fun, casual yoga classes with a twist. The classes are offered outdoors in three acres of secluded farmland at the Welcome Home Ranch, in the beautiful southwest climate of Gilbert, Arizona. Williams and Gold work hard to offer a comprehensive yoga class with all the normal sun salutations, downward dog stretches and warrior poses, but let’s be honest, people come here in droves (up to 100 per class) for the goats.
I tried out one of their yoga classes to give you the lowdown, so here’s everything you need to know about what it’s like when farmyard animals meet eastern tradition.
I love yoga; I’ve been practicing it for about 10 years in all sorts of different styles — Hatha, Ashtanga, hot yoga, yoga outdoors, indoors, alone, with thousands on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill — but never like this.
As I entered the paddock with approximately 75 other attendees who were all wearing lycra and spandex, limbering up for an outdoor session of yoga poses, I was a little apprehensive. Because this yoga class didn’t just feature the addition of regular goats; they were baby Nigerian mini-goats. And they sported colourful tutus and decorations.
These friendly, little animals are placed on participants, climb over their backs and leap from one balancing body to another. The result is an hour of giggling awkwardness and a whole lot of goat cuddles.
Williams had everyone make a circle, and once we were assembled correctly and moving through some basic exercises, I started to relax into the familiar progression of a normal yoga class. That is until someone shrieked from midway round the circle. Scanning around, I saw a not-so-small goat standing on a woman’s back. Hysterics erupted as people scrambled for their cell phones to grab a snap. There was a slight air of panic as Williams calmly reminded everyone that they’ll all have an opportunity to take that perfect, Instagram-worthy photo. Especially because Arizona Goat Yoga has partnered with Kristen Carter, a professional photographer, to ensure that all participants get a cool and unique shot during the class, which are available to upload to social media free of charge.
The goats were led around the circle, one back at a time. The anticipation was killing me, though when it was my turn, it was over so quickly. The experience wasn’t painful, but you’re technically being trampled on, so it’s not exactly comfortable either.
One very small goat took a shine to my hair and sniffed it enthusiastically — I was relieved that he didn’t start chewing on it!
At the end of the class, everyone had a chance to pet the goats, provided they follow direction on the correct way to handle these curious, little animals.
Even though this activity was predominantly attended by women, I did speak with two women, Nicole Chernik and Robin Heimerl, who managed to convince their male partners to come along too. Although their partners told me that they had never tried a yoga class before, goat yoga was “absolutely something we would do again.”
It seems that the simple addition of cute, little goats can make anyone a born-again yogi!