In most Yoga classes, one wouldn’t expect talking, laughing or picture-taking. But most Yoga classes don’t happen in a barn and they don’t have a half-dozen baby goats kicking around.
That’s just what NY Goat Yoga in Gilbertsville offers. It’s a low-key, gentle yoga class that provides wellness with a leaping side of cute.
Weather permitting, the classes happen outside on the 125-acre property. It rained on Sunday, the first goat yoga session of the season, so mats were arranged in a large converted barn with chandeliers and open slats that let the light in.
The 30-person class was sold out but there was room for everyone, including the goats. Before the class began, Maggie, a mild-mannered Great Pyrenees, wandered in between the mats looking for attention.
The moment the goats entered, the room was filled with squeals of laughter. It seemed no one was resistant to the charm of a baby goat.
While most Yoga classes are about focusing inward on one’s intention, instructor Kelly Morrissey explained, the practice of goat Yoga is about honoring time with an animal as a way to relieve stress and forget about the outside world. It’s about “joy,” she said.
“Really, how can you think about anything else when you’ve got a baby goat hopping on your back? They demand your attention,” she said.
Morrissey was right, daily cares were left at the barn doors: people were happy to get their clothes and hair nibbled on, or to hold goats in their laps until they were both nearly asleep.
Studies have shown that goat yoga can lower a person’s blood pressure, and attending one class showed how full of laughter people become.
And the goats are charming. They walk around or run with their back legs kicking up like they’re trying to get ahead of the body. In essence, they act like goats. They are curious, rambunctious babies who like to be cuddled, to nibble and to explore. The people around them moving through poses were just another curious thing to play with.
It’s not all cuddles and cute bleats. There is the occasional poop, but they are small pellets and employees cleaned them up promptly. To the people in downward-facing-dog and goat heaven, even the messier sides of the experience were part of the fun. The happy mood was infectious and by the end of the 50-minute class, everyone was smiling.
Social media has been an important tool in developing the goat yoga enterprise. With an active Instagram, NY Goat Yoga has been able to attract people from New York City as well as locals. This is the business’s second season, and the goats in the class are the second generation of goat Yogis.
NY Goat Yoga had to cancel a class in Brooklyn because of New York City health codes, but many who had signed up for that class decided to make the trek to Gilbertsville, so the class was a mix of locals and visitors. Some had never been to a farm, so the class provided an out-of-the-ordinary adventure.
“It’s everything I could have hoped for,” Lindsay Smith said. She came with her fiance, Todd Carey, as a birthday gift. “This is probably the best day of my life.”
Smith had been particularly popular with the goats, which had climbed on her throughout the class. Two attendees decided to make a weekend out of the experience, visiting as much of the area as they could in 48 hours
Caroline Mendez and Eilis Sheil, both 21-year-old students from the State University College at Oneonta, heard about it last year. They said the class was an “incredible” stress-reliever.
“We’re in the middle of finals, so this was a nice break and I feel like I can go back and really study now,” Mendez said.
Before and after class, attendees were free to explore the property, which has “glamping” tents and hammocks as well as more goats, chickens, dogs and kittens.
According to their website, owners Sharon and Aldo Boustani bought the property in 2005 from retiring dairy farmers to use as a getaway from their lives in New York City. It was years before they repurposed the exterior barns to create a destination venue. Since their first event in 2014, their business has grown to incorporate camping, three-day retreats and goat yoga. Now they live here full-time and have devoted their energies to the business.
Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at (607) 441-7218 or email@example.com . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .