Goat to the mat: Yoga with Goats class kids around on N.H. farm

By on Apr 18, 2017 in Stories |

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Janine Bibeau’s yoga class at Jenness Farm is generally like any other: soothing music in the background, a neat arrangement of long mats on the floor, lots of spandex.

Then the gobble! gobble! of Cricket the turkey comes floating through the window. Chickens peek through the farm shop’s glass-paned doors, and inside, bleating and the clomp sound of hooves on the wood floor regularly interrupt Bibeau’s instructions.

And of course, there’s the tribe of baby goats standing on people’s bent backs.

“Yoga with Goats” has become an internet sensation since the Nottingham goat dairy first tried it out several weeks ago. The farm said its Facebook page jumped from about 5,000 likes to 35,000 in less than a week, and as of Tuesday, it had more than 47,000 likes.

Classes don’t officially begin until May, but after posting videos and media coverage of the few “guinea pig” sessions so far, farm employee Manya Cetlin-Salter said there likely won’t be any open spots until June.

“We never had the intention to reach 16 million people with the video of the very first class,” she said. The video had 35 million views by Tuesday.

Cetlin-Salter said she’s working on an online sign-up system, which will be on the farm’s website, and Jenness Farm is renovating its barn in order to host larger class sizes.

But for now, the farm, Bibeau and the goats are working on perfecting the art of “Yoga with Goats” through test classes. The third was held on Monday.

Apart from the obvious added factor of having farm animals in her studio space, Bibeau said the difference in teaching yoga with goats is the happiness it inspires.

“I think everyone here is giggling or laughing at some point in the class,” Bibeau said. “The goats are just so energetic and sweet and adorable – I think those are qualities we as people love. I can kind of see it rubbing off on people.”

Since the goats like hopping on the backs of people, Bibeau changes the kind of poses people do – mainly, none that are chest up.

She also works harder to keep everyone focused.

“It’s a little distracting for me as well,” Bibeau said.

Like real kids, baby goat kids are curious – and active. They climb on top of people, explore some of the Jenness Farm shop’s product shelves, and, without any shame, do their business on the yoga mats.

Mopping up the first of two puddles, Cetlin-Salter warned Northwood resident Julia LaFleur she should do her yoga on the far end of the mat.

Toward the end of Monday’s session, both goats and people grew tired, and Bibeau encouraged everyone to relax. Lily and Lotus the goats heard the message and curled up on the lap of Julia Lewis of Lee, who snuggled the goats right back.

“Being around animals – that’s shown in studies to reduce stress and anxiety,” Bibeau said. “It’s just a different kind of relaxation.”

While it’s her first time teaching this kind of yoga, Bibeau isn’t new to goats. She has her own, and she’s also been a longtime customer of Jenness Farm, which sells goat milk soap and body products.

The farm owner, Pete Corriveau, said he and Cetlin-Salter asked Bibeau to teach after they were sent another video of a yoga-with-goats class last year.

Now that they have their own, the farm expects several dozen more goat kids by the time official classes start in May. The five Nigerian Dwarf goats that do yoga now – Tula, Poppy, Zinnia, Lily and Lotus – will likely be too big by then.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt,” Corriveau said.

While they’re still small enough, the test-run sessions have been a good outlet for the five young goats’ energy. Corriveau brought four of them back down to their enclosure below the shop, leaving one behind.

The brown-haired Tula remained in her spot on one of the yoga mats, fast asleep.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter
@elodie_reed.)