N-a-a-a-a-maste: Goat Yoga Clip-Clops From Oregon to the Triangle | Other Sports | Indy Week
Pin It

N-a-a-a-a-maste: Goat Yoga Clip-Clops From Oregon to the Triangle 

click to enlarge Cary's Carolyn Gilbert practices her goat salutations at Hux Family Farm.

Photo by Alex Boerner

Cary's Carolyn Gilbert practices her goat salutations at Hux Family Farm.

Sara Wakefield was surprised when Cookie shit on her yoga mat. But, in all fairness, Cookie is a goat, and Wakefield had been warned that accidents might happen.

It's a cloudy Sunday morning, and Wakefield, with her friends Carolyn Gilbert and Laura Andrews, is taking a "Yoga with Goats and Lambs" class from Bikram Yoga Durham at Hux Family Farm. They're here for a lot of reasons—good photos, good stories, some laughs—and Cookie's little indiscretion isn't going to ruin anybody's fun. Before the class begins, the three are already giggling and snapping photos as ambling Nigerian dwarf goats nibble on their toes and strike endearing poses.

Before we get to the Five Ws of why perfectly sane and sanitary young professionals, yoga novices, and expert yogis would choose to enter a pen, put their mats in the dirt, and spend ninety minutes doing yoga while a dozen chewing, bleating, smelly, pesky animals frolic around and on them, know this simple truth: doing yoga with goats makes one unexpectedly and deliriously happy.

"You get an instant perma-smile around these animals," Gilbert says. "It's relaxing just being around them."

"They're so happy that it puts you in a good mood," Wakefield adds.

It's easy to see why. At its heart, yoga with goats embodies a desire to reconnect with the natural world in a genuine, contemplative way, and finding that bond in such an immediate fashion feels deeply gratifying. There's just something about spending time near friendly animals that releases feel-good hormones.

"We work at Duke, so we're not often on a farm hanging out with animals, and the change is really fun," Andrews says. "It's a novelty but it's de-stressing."

It's a sentiment class teacher Hanna Newman, co-owner of Bikram Yoga Durham, hears often.

"Once people come out here, they are surprised by how calming it is to be with the animals because as we begin practicing, as our energy calms down, the goats start to calm down, too," she says. "They definitely feed off our energy."

The exchange goes both ways. Normally, Bikram is a physically rigorous ninety-minute program of twenty-six challenging postures in rooms heated to 105 degrees, designed to elevate the heart rate and work every muscle. It's a serious, taxing practice that requires concentrated focus, and quiet is encouraged.

But add a few mini-goats and suddenly it's all selfies and laughter. As Newman leads participants through the postures, people will stop in the middle of one because a goat is nibbling on or nuzzling them, demanding to be petted.

Newman had long wanted to host a goat yoga class after seeing YouTube videos of the practice in Oregon, but she set the idea aside because of the logistics of bringing goats into her Golden Belt studio. It was simply an idea before its time. "Some of our students were super excited, but I think more of them were confused," Newman says. "I think people are still confused by the idea."

That changed when Amanda Avery called. With her husband, Matthew Hux, Avery owns a small farm. They are slowly turning it into a self-sustaining homestead with animals, gardening, and an elaborate aquaponics system. They started their herd of Nigerian dwarf goats, a miniature breed that usually weighs less than sixty-five pounds, in 2015 for dairy production. The Nigerian dwarf goat is known for being friendly and cuddly, and the couple intended to start a goat-relaxation therapy practice.

"We didn't know what to do with the goats, but we love them and wanted to offer the public access to them," Avery says.

Soon a new use for the herd appeared in the form of a West Coast innovation. Farmer, marketing executive, and freelance photographer Lainey Morse founded the goat yoga concept in Oregon in 2016, and it is widely popular there—according to CNN, there is a 1,200-person waitlist for her classes. Newman had encountered Morse's videos, and Avery has spoken to Morse about the practice. But the phrase "goat yoga," is trademarked, so the Hux Family Farm version is called Yoga with Goats and Lambs.

click to enlarge Oh no! Andrea's mat got pooed on too! - PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
  • Photo by Alex Boerner
  • Oh no! Andrea's mat got pooed on too!

The trend is just starting to make its way east, and, for now, this is the only place to do yoga with goats in the Triangle, at the end of a long country road in North Durham, a few hundred feet from the Eno River. Hand-drawn signs staked on the roadside point to the parking lot of Hux Family Farm, which doesn't look so much like the farm of imagination. Instead, it looks like a regular house with a long driveway filled with cars, old farm equipment, and construction projects in various states of completion.

But go behind the house, take a left at the sign-in tent, and behold: miniature goats, lots of them, and two not-so-small lambs, tumbling over one another and eating everything in sight. Like eager puppies, the goats mob visitors entering their pen.

click to enlarge Laura Andrews and Sara Wakefield - PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
  • Photo by Alex Boerner
  • Laura Andrews and Sara Wakefield

"It's like a cat or a dog in that it gives you the feeling of belonging, but it's even neater because it's a goat," Avery says.

Avery and Hux are capitalizing on the goat's versatility and friendliness in other ways. They offer meditation-with-goats classes, several different styles of yoga classes every weekend, children's reading-with-goats sessions, and, most evocatively, private time with goats. You can "adopt" goats through a sponsorship program. They also sell goat's milk soap.

But for Wakefield, Gilbert, and Andrews, just being around the goats is enough. All three are laughing uncontrollably by the end of class, as they snap pictures of themselves in various yoga poses with goats perched on top of them.

"This so exceeded my expectations," Gilbert says. "I just had so much fun."

"This is going to make a great Snapchat story," Wakefield adds.

This article appeared in print with the headline "N-a-a-a-a-maste."

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Twitter Activity


Kudos to Caitlin Penna. your images were reminiscent of some of modern boxings glory in the 1960s and 70s - …

by stunami on As the North Carolina Boxing Scene Grows, a Boxing Writer Finds It's Still Not Easy to Be a Female Fan (Other Sports)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Kudos to Caitlin Penna. your images were reminiscent of some of modern boxings glory in the 1960s and 70s - …

by stunami on As the North Carolina Boxing Scene Grows, a Boxing Writer Finds It's Still Not Easy to Be a Female Fan (Other Sports)

So this girl whines about "cultural appropriation" and then doesn't even know enough about what she claims to be her …

by Dude on Fearing Cultural Appropriation, Our Writer Discovers a Reverent Home for Japanese Archery in North Carolina (Other Sports)

This is a fantastic piece: Bryan did a great job of talking to a ton of important voices on the …

by jeff on Just for Kicks, We Get Bruised in the Triangle’s Vibrant Mixed Martial Arts Scene (Other Sports)

Durham Parks & Rec has pickleball as well.

by Ruby Sinreich on Fall Guide: Pickleball, human foosball and dodgeball bounce into Wheels Fun Park (Other Sports)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation