I unrolled my yoga mat, sat down, took a deep breath—and felt a sudden tug at the end of my ponytail. I turned to find a sand-colored goat snacking on my hair. I gently nudged it away, scratching the side of its neck as it checked me out. Having decided I wasn’t a threat, it turned its attention to eating grass, which I imagine was quite a bit tastier. I turned my attention back to the instructor who had already started class.
Welcome to Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga (RMGY). The company, founded by Boulder native Vanessa Vitali, a certified yoga instructor and holistic nutrition coach, and Jim Naron, is the first in Colorado to jump on the bandwagon of “the hottest new fitness trend.” For those whose Instagram streams haven’t been taken over by photos of goats relaxing on the back of a yogi in child’s pose, let us explain: It’s exactly what it sounds like. You do yoga while goats wander around. The idea started in Oregon last year and has since taken off across the country.
RMGY launched in May and is offering two classes (10 and 11 a.m.) every Sunday in a fenced-in, grassy patch at Just Kidding Acres in Berthoud. (It’s a private farm, so attendees are sent the address after they’ve signed up.) Vitali says they’ve been regularly selling out; classes are maxed out at 30 people.
Interacting with dogs and horses is recognized as having therapeutic benefits—and so can time spent around goats. “It’s really therapy for the soul to be spending time with these little babies,” Vitali says. It’s hard to maintain feelings of anger or sadness or stress when you’re hanging out with such adorable creatures, she adds. Just Kidding is home to goats, which were rescued from dairy farms, that range in age from six weeks to eight years old.
Rather than focusing internally, paying strict attention to your breath and your intentions, as you would in a traditional yoga class, goat yoga is more about the atmosphere. Vitali leads a 45-minute class (remaining steady on grass is not the same as on a flat studio floor), but goats often wander onto mats or under legs—or start peeing right next to where you were about to put your foot. (Yes, that really happened to a couple people at the class I attended.) Vitali wants people to play with the animals, to laugh—to get some good stretching in, but also just enjoy the experience. Which is why the rest of the hour after class is over is devoted to playing and taking photos with the goats.
If you want a real challenge, try to maintain your focus and breathing as a precious goat tries to goad you into playing by nibbling on your hair and nudging your elbow with the tip of his nose. I sure couldn’t. I can take a yoga class any day of the week, but play time with goats is much rarer.
If You Go: Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. Bring a mat, towel, water, sunscreen, and your phone (for photos!). RMGY is currently planning to host classes through August, though dates may be extended depending on the weather. Keep an eye on the website for details.