The inclusion of animals in athletics is not a novel concept. The ancient Romans certainly knew how to spice things up in the Colosseum by adding a few strategically placed lions and bears to the mix. Horse racing wouldn’t be very much without the contribution of horses. Fishing without fish might be unthinkable, although some of us manage to do it just fine.
Until recently, yoga has always been regrettably deprived of any animal collaboration. This was due to the difficulty in finding a suitable animal to do it with — try to include a lion in a yoga class, and you’ll likely have very few people attend it twice. Thank the heavens that we have finally discovered that friendly, gentle goats are the perfect creatures to do Vrikshasanas and Bharadvajasanas alongside.
Have Ya Herd of Roberts, WI is dedicated to giving people the joy and relaxation that only goat yoga can provide. Their proprietors Kevin and Jess Lubich weren’t originally interested in goats for their yoga properties, however. They first got goats for their much less entertaining value — their milk.
“We run a full-time dairy farm,” explained Jess. “We have 60 cows, and grow some other cash crops as well. A few years ago, we decided to branch out because of the low price that regular milk was going for, and naturally gravitated toward goats. In 2015 we brought in 150 of them, outfitted our barn to keep them all, and started getting into the full swing of things. Imagine our surprise when our creamery told us that we were too far away for them to process our goats’ milk!”
The Lubichs sold most of their goats to another farm, but couldn’t part with about 20 of them. They had hand-bottled them since they were kids, let them bounce around in their kitchen on cold winter days, and had even named them. “As soon as you give something a name, you’re attached!” said Jess.
This begged a serious question: What do you do with so many goats on a farm where every animal is expected to earn their keep? “One day my father-in-law saw a news story about goat yoga classes that were being held in Oregon,” Jess recalled. “We didn’t know anything about yoga, but we knew that our goats would be just perfect for that.”
The Lubichs got right to work looking for a yoga instructor, and finally found the perfect one. As she had grown up on a farm, she was able to recognize at once that goats are the future of yoga. Have Ya Herd was born, and now they host goat yoga classes at their farm on weekends and wherever else they are summoned throughout the Twin Cities.
“Every goat has a different personality,” explained Jess. “If you want a high energy yoga session, we’ll bring goats like our Frosty. He’s a bit of a hothead, and plays by his own rules — we’re still not sure how he breaks out of his pen to greet us at our door every morning. A lot of people love the additional challenge of having Frosty jump up on their backs while they’re doing the downward dog position.”
“We have calmer goats for more laidback classes, too,” Jess continued. “To those we bring goats like Rocco, who is the world’s laziest animal. If you pick him up he’ll just fall asleep. We were worried that something was wrong with him for a little while, but the vet said he’s just a slacker.”
“When the goats first enter a class, they’re all excited to see everyone and start bleating. As the class gets underway, though, the goats understand that people are trying to focus, and more or less let them be. That doesn’t stop their personalities from getting through, though, so they will keep entertaining from time to time. It’s always fun to see people start competing to see who can mimic the goats’ sounds the most convincingly.”
“Even if you’re a little bit skeptical, when you take one of our classes you’ll quickly see why goats are such a natural complement to yoga. Just like yoga is therapeutic, so too is having a baby goat nuzzle up against your face. Everyone has really loved this so far, and we can’t wait to see how popular goat yoga becomes in the future!”
To learn more about how the inclusion of goats makes yoga the ultimate exercise, visit haveyaherd.biz. Their classes just can’t be bleat.
By David Scheller