Dwarf goats’ hooves, it turns out, can help with tense backs and shoulders.
So several clients said at a goat yoga session Monday at Gray Hobby Farm, a small organic produce, egg and animal feed operation in Credit River that began offering the classes in late May.
Instructors there guide participants through a variety of stretches and poses as in any yoga class; the farm simply holds them outdoors with a handful of dog-size goats for company at a cost of $25 a person.
“This is good for your core, to try not to drop the goat,” Laurie Vinge, who attended Monday for her first time, joked after one of the smaller animals leapt lightly on and off of her back. “Animals are healing, anyway.”
The goat matriarch, Hurricane, lounged on Vinge’s yoga pad as younger ones meandered among about a dozen attendees and nibbled on grass and shirt fringes. Young Daisy in particular often jumped on backs to participants’ surprise and, for the most part, laughter.
It wasn’t a class for a yoga perfectionist, but that’s kind of the idea, said instructor Tracey Miller, who’s been certified and teaching for more than a decade.
“We take yoga so seriously,” she said, but the goats’ presence can help release tension and stress in its own way. “You throw a goat in there, and you can’t help but laugh.”
The farm has held several classes so far and has four or so scheduled each week into August, co-owner Rob Gray said. Groups can also schedule private sessions.
The Grays have been growing at least some pumpkins and fruit trees for around 20 years since moving from Bloomington, Gray said. He and his wife, Mary, incorporated and expanded the business a bit last year with the idea of putting their goats to new use.
Rob Gray also retired from managing a Life Time Fitness, where he had met some yoga instructors and gotten familiar with offering classes.
“I would say it’s a hobby, but it’s becoming a day job,” Rob Gray said of the farm.
Classes for the American version of yoga, based on a subset of ancient Indian physical and spiritual traditions, are offered around Prior Lake and the metropolitan area, including at Dakotah! Sport and Fitness and BRX Fitness, for example. Charlie’s on Prior and Savage’s Yoga 4 You even occasionally offer Yoga on the Docks on Prior Lake, including on June 28.
Still, goats bring something unique, and their inclusion is still fairly uncommon around the country, Gray said. His mother, Barb, said she didn’t previously have much interest in yoga and had never done it before Monday, when she came for her 74th birthday.
It was a physical challenge but also something enjoyable and different, she said.
“We’ll have to see what 75 brings.”