Approximately 20 people took part in an introductory goat yoga session at an Echo Bay farm on Saturday evening.
Goat yoga combines regular yoga with baby goats that hop on to the backs of yoga practitioners while they are in yoga position, or they simply nuzzle around them.
The introductory goat yoga session - with three baby goats named Lenny, Karl and Homer - was organized by Sarah Domingue, a yoga instructor and owner of Bearable Yoga with Sarah.
“We’re trying a new, unique type of yoga incorporating animal therapy with goats. We have three Nigerian Dwarf baby goats participate and play around your yoga mat and jump on you in yoga positions in the barn while you’re doing yoga,” Domingue said.
“The basis for it is that animals are being proven - more and more so - in scientific studies, to show that not only do they benefit us, we benefit them. Through having animals around, like dogs, cats, goats or really any animal, by petting them, just having them in the room, lowers your anxiety and depression. Studies have come out that prove these methods work. A lot of prisons do a lot of animal therapy, primarily with horses and goats.”
Goat yoga began in the U.S. in 2015 and is popular in southern Ontario, so Domingue said she wanted to introduce it here in the north.
It is believed Saturday’s session marked the first time a goat yoga session was held in the Algoma District, Domingue said.
All future goat yoga sessions held by Domingue will take place at the Echo Bay farm located at 786 Bar River Road East.
“We’re not going to transport them just because I’m so holistic. I don't want to be cruel to animals and travel them around here and there. It’s not a circus act. We want the goats to feel at home while they’re doing this,” Domingue said.
Farm owner Andrea Moscicky reached out to Domingue after she began practicing yoga and then suggested bringing in the goats.
“We are planning on continuing. We’re going to do the sessions in May, June and July, and we’re going to be doing them outside in the field, so all the animals will be out in the field with us,” Domingue said.
She plans on holding the sessions every weekend beginning in May with a mid-week class to be added depending on demand.
Domingue said she was pleased with the interest and reaction from participants at Saturday’s session.
“I’m overwhelmed in such a positive way,” she said.
Farm owner Moscicky - with dogs, cats, three goats, four horses and a cow - said “animal therapy has really helped me so I contacted Sarah to get something going. I’m so happy to bring animal therapy to people. It makes me feel great to share animal therapy with other people. Eventually I do want to open an animal therapy barn.”
Another goat yoga session is planned for the barn at Moscicky’s farm at 786 Bar River Road East for Sunday evening from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The session will cost $30.
Those interested in attending may contact Sarah Domingue through her Bearable Yoga With Sarah Facebook page, by calling 705-206-3674 or by email.
“I’ve been around barns all my life but this is definitely the first time for goat yoga for me,” said participant Holli Devoe of Goulais River after Saturday's introductory session.
“Actually it felt kind of nice. It was like a massage almost. He didn’t nip or bite. It was like a deep tissue massage. I’d absolutely recommend it. It was so much fun. This was very engaging. It’s fun,” Devoe said.
“‘Unexpected’ would be the best word to describe it. I didn’t expect them to just jump right on me that way but it was kind of neat. Once the goat was on my back, it was like a massage. It was enjoyable. I would recommend it. It was relaxing, different and therapeutic,” said Heather Mathison of the Sault.
“It was interesting. It was the first time I had ever done goat yoga. It was a good experience. It’s nice to see this moving toward the Sault, it’s something different for people to get into for exercise, mental health and well being,” Mathison said.