A barrier of bright orange, red and green fence closes off a small patch of overgrown grass at Cahoon Memorial Park West. As the trees that provide the patch with shade sway in the wind, yoga instructor Deanna Black tells a mix of giggling children, teens and parents to extend their arms into warrior one. However, a simple pose is made harder due to calls from 10 little goats running around and climbing on them.
For Feels Like OM Goat Yoga, this is the norm.
“We have so many distractions going on in our lives. We’re constantly being pinged and being texted and plugged in,” Black said. “Goat yoga helps tune that out and provides an opportunity to push out the distractions and whatever stress you may have.”
The goats are provided by Feels Like Home Farm, which also hosts the event for the BAYarts Farm and Art Market held Thursday evenings during the summer. The farm, located in Kirtland, provides one goat for every two students who attend the session.
Curious onlookers surrounded the 5-foot fence and snapped pictures. Some of the onlookers have children taking the class, while others just want to look at the goats as they roam around the patch while the event unfolds.
“They’ve actually done a lot of research studies about incorporating an animal into your fitness practice,” said Alissa Miller, creator of Feels like OM Goat Yoga and the co-owner of Feels Like Home Farm with her husband, Mark. “Yoga is all about meditation and being in the moment, and it’s found that when you focus on an animal like a goat, which is curious and happy, it helps keep you in the moment.”
There is little risk in doing yoga with goats because they don’t have a full set of teeth in their jaws, so they won’t bite you, Black said.
Feels Like OM Goat yoga started three years ago when Miller and her husband were approached by Soza Fitness in Parma to start doing yoga with goats. Eventually the trend picked up and more organizations reached out to the Millers to do events at Chagrin Yoga and Geneva-on-the-Lake.
“I thought we were being pranked when they first called me to borrow some goats for their class,” Mark Miller said.
Earlier this year, BAYarts asked Miller to host an event for the Get Out Festival in May. The event was such a hit that they organized “Feels Like OM Goat Yoga” to participate at the Farm and Art Market in July and on Aug. 8.
It’s $15 to participate in Feels Like OM Goat Yoga events, which also feature a petting zoo at the end for a $1 dollar donation to the farm.
“I think goat yoga attracts people to yoga that might not necessarily come to it,” said Ashley Bradley, a longtime yogi who attended the event with the family she takes care of. “It just makes working out more fun.”
Feels like Home Farm has on average 80 goats. It also offers yoga with six alpacas and piglets provided by neighbor Heifer Meister Farms LLC.
The 25-minute session concludes with Black telling the class to pick one goat and focus on it while sitting silently. It’s a technique she created to help students center themselves before the class ends. The students linger afterward, petting the goats and trying to pick them up and hold them.
There isn’t a sad face in the crowd.
“Welcome to goat yoga,” Mark Miller said. “It’s the osmosis between reality and laughter.”
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