Jane Jeong and Bergan Zebrauskas
Light, spiritual music plays from the stereo behind the instructor. You unroll your mat on the ground, and slide off your shoes — the beginning to any ordinary yoga class. As you begin your deep breaths, you feel something brush your leg. A tiny, furry, adorable… goat? As winter approaches and finals draw near, the stress level around the school begins to rise. Endless studying, desperate attempts to raise grades, and the constant darkness outside take a toll on students’ moods. At Happy Goat Lucky Yoga, a stress-free hour of decompression is only one goat away.
Classes begin with breathing exercises and simple stretches. The calming effects of yoga are well-known to most, but the goats bring another relaxing and comforting element to the experience, despite being farm animals. “They are kind of an animal-assisted therapy. They’re super lovable, that’s one thing people don’t really know about goats until they come to a class if they’ve never been around goats before. People are surprised by how gentle and human-oriented they are, especially since ours have been around people since day one,” Stevens said. “They just love to be around people, so they make people laugh and smile and you can’t leave sad. So that’s our biggest goal, is just to bring a little bit of happiness to people and goats seem to do that.”
The presence of goats alone is often enough to allow customers to be comfortable, but according to Stevens, the presence of animals can have physical effects as well. “If you go into the science of animal assisted therapy, it actually does help lower calm someone’s heart rate and lower their blood pressure when they’re just sitting there petting an animal,” Stevens said. “That’s one of the benefits, or the biggest one from it, it’s just you get calm from the yoga and the animals and I think any age anywhere can benefit from that.”
Owner of Happy Goat Lucky, Lynsay Riddle, spreads food on the ground while goats gather around her. Riddle and her partner, Jordan Stevens, started “Happy Goat Lucky Yoga” in June of 2018 after seeing the success a woman in Oregon had with her own goat yoga business. “We had two goats at the time, my partner Lynsay and I, and we fell in love with them,” Stevens said. “We saw how that was taking off in Oregon, and we decided to give it a try here because we just love goats and we wanted to spread the love of goats, and that seemed like a way people wanted to connect with goats. So we decided to give it a try.”
Most indoor classes have five or six goats, but Stevens is planning to bring out all of the goats once the weather allows for classes outside. “We have 21 [goats], and we’ll be moving our stuff out to our farm next spring so we’ll be able to have all the goats there. You’ll be able to see a wide array of different goats and different sizes and they’re all super sweet and lovable,” Stevens said. While the calming effects of yoga are well-known to most, goat yoga can be particularly beneficial in the winter time, when cold weather and lack of sunshine affect moods. “Especially in the winter time I think can help with winter blues that a lot of people get. Just coming out and doing something a little bit active but not strenuous,” Stevens said.
The class ends with the same breathing exercises that open it. Stevens believes that anyone, including high schoolers, can benefit from relaxation through goat yoga. “So with high school, it being stressful, especially during midterms and stuff, I know it can help provide a little de-stresser from high school,” Stevens said. “Also it just makes you laugh and have fun, and I think that’s good for everyone. Everyone could use a laugh and a smile, especially today.”