LIVINGSTON, LA (WAFB) - Livingston Parish is now part of the world-wide goat yoga craze thanks to Old Rusty Gate Farm's classes that connect the easy-going country life with the relaxation of yoga.
Goat yoga is a fascinating new fitness trend with event listings in cities across the U.S. The founder of Yoga with Goats on the Farm in Livingston, Sarah Allen says she follows a lot of goat pages on social media.
"I started seeing other people in places like Oregon and Houston doing goat yoga classes, and I thought, I could do that," said Allen.
Nearly thirty people signed up for the most recent Saturday morning class at Old Rusty Gate Farm. The class laid down their yoga mats in a packed pen of peacefully posing yogis, freely roaming goats of all sizes, and a dog named Jenny.
The most crowded class had as many as 79 people sign up and was decidedly split into two classes. Allen says future classes will be limited to allow a more intimate feel and offer more one-on-one time with the goats. Her husband, James Allen, says he can expand the pen to make it wider for the larger classes.
No matter the class size, the yogis are greeted with as many as eight goats of all ages. All are lovingly named like any domesticated pet. Mediation music plays in the background while the goats roam the pen boisterously, but friendly.
"Our goats are already very socialized. They're around people constantly with me and my husband and our four children. We are all involved in their daily care. We bottle feed the babies and milk the mamas twice a day. They're already very tame and people-friendly," said Sarah.
She says the goats love all the extra love, cuddles, and attention. That's even more evident when the people in the class pull out their cell phones to snap a selfie with a lively baby goat.
The youngest, at just a week old, is named Fergie. She's a black coated female with ankle socks painted above her back hooves. She seemed to be the easiest one to cradle peacefully in a lap during a seated pose.
The youngest male is named Handsome Jack. He's a sprightly red-head and is equally eager to get to know any stranger striking a pose.
Yoga class members are encouraged to keep their cell phones close by in anticipation of those unexpected moments, a yogi breath interrupted by a bleating baby goat or a plank pose purposefully 'dogpiled' by a different four-legged animal. One of the biggest lessons for most first-timers, keep your tennis shoes out of the pen, or else your Nike's might be nibbled on by a newborn goat.
Goats aside, the yoga poses are basic moves and easily suited for beginners. The class is, after all, more about the bleating than the breathing and stretching.
Sarah and yoga instructor Kristie Craig agree the class is usually more interested in the goats than the yoga.
"We know they don't really come for the yoga. They come for the goats. We'll have people that hang around for an hour after class just to make sure they get that perfect shot," said Craig, who is also the yoga instructor at Ztime Fitness in Walker, Louisiana.
"We came here just for the goats really, not the yoga, but the yoga was awesome, too," said Megan Lee after her first time attending the goat yoga class. "Everybody should try to come to this. It's amazing," said Lee.
There are plenty of photo opportunities. At the end of the yoga class, the instructor goes around with a ginger spotted Nigerian Dwarf goat named Joy, that instinctively climbs on top of anyone's back who is in a table top or plank position, making for that perfect social media picture.
"Every class has been phenomenal. It gets better every time, especially with the babies because they want to be played with. We've had a really fun time doing it," said Craig.
Old Rusty Gate Farm plans to continue scheduling goat yoga classes on Saturday mornings, every couple of months. Their next goat yoga class is scheduled for June 9. The farm will host two classes that morning.
You can reserve your spot online by sending your payment via Paypal to the account firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the class, you send a message to Sarah through the Old Rusty Gate Farm Facebook page.
The Allen family organized their first goat yoga classes as a fundraiser for their church's building fund, donating proceeds to Hope Central in Central, Louisiana. Profits now go toward general farming costs, but the Allens say they still give a portion to the church.
Old Rusty Gate Farm is a working farm with a variety of animals including three pigs, two horses, a steer, a peacock, and of course, goats. If guests arrive early enough, they might be able to watch the Allen kids perform their morning chores, which include milking the mama goats and bottle feeding the young ones.
"We don't just have them to have them. We raise them and breed them. We raise our steer for meat, pigs for meat, and the goats for dairy," said Sarah.
The Allen family makes use of all of the animals' resources, even making hand-made goat milk soap they sell on the sign-in table at the goat yoga classes.
If you're looking for a yoga class where you're more likely to workout your stomach muscles laughing at the upward goats during your downward dog, or more often than not, Jenny the dog chasing a goat over the mats, then goat yoga at Old Rusty Gate Farm is definitely for you.
Allen says her classes always fill up, so you should register sooner than later if you want to connect with nature and baby goats. As long as interest in Old Rusty Gate Farm's classes continues to grow, goat yoga is here to "namaste."