Downward Dog to Upward Goat: Goat Yoga at Autumn Ridge
Animal-loving yogis rejoice, goat yoga has finally landed in southern Virginia. The owners of Autumn Ridge Cottages in Lexington, have begun offering this uniquely enjoyable experience to the community.
What is Goat Yoga?
Goat yoga is essentially yoga…with goats. I guess that wasn’t too hard to explain. But what is the point, you ask?
As a practicing yogi, I can attest to the many benefits of practicing yoga. The controlled breathing helps me to mitigate stress and to refocus. Meditation helps me to connect not only with myself but to others and the world around me. Focusing on the physical alignment of my poses improves my posture, and those repetitive chatarungas give me killer triceps.
As an animal lover, I can attest to the many benefits of interacting with animals. They provide a sense of comfort and companionship. Interaction with animals is also said to release serotonin and dopamine. Don’t believe me? Just check out the research that is backing up the use of animal-assisted therapy. Besides, what is cuter than rubbing a little puppy’s belly?
Combine morning yoga with pygmy goats and shazam, you have a dopamine releasing, stress relieving, “aww” inducing start to your day.
Downward dog and nuzzling goat
As we pulled up to the Autumn Ridge barn, we immediately saw the mini herd of goats running toward us and our big yellow Sprinter. But like obedient “kids” knowing better than to cross the street (did you get that pun? Scott isn’t the only one with jokes), they stopped before they reached us. We ran up to the group of 6 pygmy goats who were waiting patiently next to Mike, one of the owners of Autumn Ridge. We cuddled and cooed the little fur balls as Mike introduced us to Thor, Banner, Romeo, and their other 3 fuzzy friends.
As the other yogis began to arrive, we made our way into the barn which now served as the yoga studio. I have never taken a goat yoga class before, so not knowing what to expect, I had been preparing myself to practice yoga in a cold barn surrounded by itchy hay. Stepping into the studio, I saw that the barn was newly renovated, welcoming and very clean. A charming wood-burning stove warmed the room while the scent of lavender oil permeated the air.
When we were all settled onto our mats, the owners opened the door for all of the goats to wander in. The instructor started us off with a gentle child’s pose. Thor joined me, taking a snooze at the front of my mat.
As we progressed into our first sun salutation, I looked over to see Romeo nibbling on Scott’s pant leg. Off in the corner, Banner was making a little bed out of Scott’s sweater lying on the floor. The room was filled with giggles, as the goats took their turns nuzzling everyone in the room.
The class ended with a supine shavasana as we relaxed to the pitter patter of wandering goat hooves.
Yoga Lessons from a Goat
Yoga is about mindfulness. One way of practicing mindfulness is by becoming open to new experiences. How often do you get the chance to practice yoga with 5 Miniature Alpines and 1 Nigerian Pygmy goat running around? It is a fun opportunity to try something out of the ordinary. The adventure of trying something new awakens our senses to pure and simple joy.
Yoga is about letting go and not taking life so seriously. Yes, Thor the goat may nibble on your hair or poop on your mat, but that’s nothing a little antibacterial can’t fix. (And let’s be real, there are MUCH worse things that can be pooping on your mat.) See the humor in life and let it shine a positive light on your day.
Yoga is about connectedness. If you have ever been in a yoga class where the instructor leads the room in a simultaneous “Om”, one of the reasons is connectedness. Chanting at the same vibrational frequency acknowledges our connection to each other, the world and the universe. Rather than an “Om”, this class was united by laughter and positive energy. I would also argue that sharing your mat with a goat establishes a sense of connection with nature.
Know Before You Go
- Price: $22 online, $24 at the door. Because the class size is limited to 15 people, tickets sell out fast. I would recommend buying them online.
- Plan to stay after class for a special treat. Owners, Mike and Heather invite the class to help feed the goats for their post-yoga meal. (As if cuddling with them on your yoga mat wasn’t heart-warming enough.)
- When considering attending a goat yoga class, the first question everyone asks is “What if the goat has an accident on me?” I’m not going to lie to you. A goat is a living creature that has to do its “business” too. Although it is unlikely to go on you, it is possible that it may go on or near your mat. Go with an open mind. If a goat pees, poos or nibbles on your hair, it is all part of the experience. Laugh a little.
With that being said, the owners do take incredible care of their property, their goats, and their guests. If a goat should have an accident during the class, it is cleaned up immediately. The studio is cared for by a cleaning crew after every class. I have been to plenty of petting zoos, and theirs are the most loveable and clean goats I have ever seen. It warms my heart to see Mike and Heather take such good care of their “kids”.
- Autumn Ridge is a beautiful 55-acre property, tucked away in the heart of Lexington Virginia. In addition to the barn, the property also has three country cabins for rent. They rent out between $144 – $210 per night depending on which cabin and the time of the week.
While yes it may be a novelty, it is undoubtedly a fun experience! If you don’t giggle and melt over the little goats then there is something wrong with you. I for one am looking forward to Autumn Ridge Aerial Silks with Goats, and yes, that is in the works!
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