Torch tries yoga with goats

Senior Abby Parry enjoys the company of goats during her session at Goat Yoga Chicago on Oct. 25, 2020. Sessions include a half hour of yoga exercises with the goats and another half hour playing with them. Photos by Ellie Walden

Senior Abby Parry enjoys the company of goats during her session at Goat Yoga Chicago on Oct. 25, 2020. Sessions include a half hour of yoga exercises with the goats and another half hour playing with them. Photos by Ellie Walden

Ellie Walden, Staff Writer

What goat yoga has to offer: 

Though a seemingly random pair, goats and yoga are a great way to increase one’s mental and physical health. Combining exercise with animals offers participants a nuanced way to get in shape. Since the summer of 2018, Reverse the Kerrs Farm has been home to Goat Yoga Chicago, a goat yoga business that promotes ending the stigma around mental health. 

“Yoga without goats is really good for just general strength and conditioning,” said Danielle Kerr, owner of Goat Yoga Chicago, in a phone interview. “But with goat yoga, you’re conditioning your laughter, your joy and just your peace of mind. It distracts you from the everyday stresses of life.” 

Reverse the Kerrs Farm first introduced goat yoga after seeing it on the news, said Kerr. What began as a small project with only six goats has now grown into a home for 18 goats.

Located in Elgin, Goat Yoga Chicago offers one-hour sessions for $39 per person. During the first half hour, participants do yoga alongside baby goats. The rest of class is then spent playing, petting and taking goofy pictures with the furry friends.

My experience:

As soon as we stepped out of the car at Goat Yoga Chicago, my friend and I were greeted by baby goat squeals. Excited to attend our first session, we went over to look at the goats hanging out in their pens. One of the instructors provided us with towels on which we would do our exercises and walked us over to the grassy area where we would be doing yoga. Once in the grass, we were enclosed by a low fence to keep the goats from escaping. Another instructor poured sunflower seeds on our towels, and soon enough, many goats came rushing to eat their treats. 

The goats jumped on backs during tabletop and child’s pose, tumbling off as the class switched positions. Oftentimes, participants would stop to pet the soft animals while the seven goats and one chicken made their rounds to each of us. As class progressed, I could understand what Kerr was talking about. My joy was definitely being exercised alongside my body. Petting the baby goats while also doing yoga allowed me to enjoy the workout even more. Watching my classmates smile made me smile, and the happiness in the air was infectious. The session was filled with laughter and many “baas.”

After we finished the yoga portion of class, we were told we had the rest of the time to play with the goats and could spend as much time with them as we wanted since there was no yoga session after ours. I fed them sunflower seeds and petted them as their cute little bodies wiggled with glee. 

Upon leaving, I was in a drastically better mood than when I first arrived. Not only did the yoga calm me down, but the presence of the goats made me laugh and lifted my spirits, too. 

Goat yoga is a fun way to stay healthy and active, and it has the added bonus of being a great outdoor activity during the pandemic. This unique form of exercise is a sure way to make almost anyone smile.