GALENA, Ill. – Kathy Willauer surprised her sister Linda Hartlep.
“I said to her:” I signed you up for goat yoga “and she said:” Oh, no, you haven’t, “said Willauer.
Oh yes, she did, and Willauer and Hartlep were present during a class at the Original Goat Yoga Galena where six young goat kids mingled with yoga practitioners, moaning encouragement, and occasionally prompting some human kids to clean up some unexpected breaks in the goat bath.
“This is the best ever,” said Dubuque’s Willauer. “I’ve been waiting to do this forever.”
While Willauer had been waiting expectantly for a goat yoga experience, Hartlep from Galena had two premieres.
“It’s my first time doing yoga – I didn’t really know what to expect – and it’s the first time I’ve touched a goat,” said Hartlep. “You are so cute and soft.”
Goats are also great partners for yoga, according to Jennifer Montgomery, who opened Original Goat Yoga Galena with her husband Josh last year.
“Goats and yoga go well together as animal therapy has been shown to help people mentally, physically and emotionally,” said Jennifer. “The practice of yoga in and of itself is a reward for each individual, so marriage for the two is a happy, joyful experience.”
The six young goats are all around 10 weeks old. They traveled in a small six-pack around the yoga mats that were spread out on the floor for about a dozen students in the class. The goats wandered among the participants doing various yoga poses.
“Goats like people, of course,” said Jennifer, who served as the yoga instructor during the class. “They are curious little guys and they are happy so that people can have a good time.”
When Jennifer first encountered goat yoga, it wasn’t particularly important for Jennifer to set out to provide good times for people.
Jennifer was on a scheduled family vacation in Colorado that arrived when she learned that her position at work had been eliminated.
Her niece in the Denver area convinced Montgomery to try goat yoga.
“We left and it was the first time in that I can’t tell you how long I haven’t felt this (emotional) weight, I just felt free. I just felt happy, “said Jennifer.
At home, Montgomery searched for “goat yoga” online and connected with a goat yoga company based in Monroe, Ore.
“I said to my husband,” I know what I want to do now, “said Jennifer.
Galena is the ninth franchise in the Original Goat Yoga group, which has locations across the country.
The Montgomerys bought six goats and renovated a former horse stable to serve as a goat yoga studio. Josh, who works in the construction business, spent four months renovating the barn in his spare time.
“People always ask me about goat yoga,” said Josh. “I tell them the goats don’t actually do yoga. They just run around and are goats. “
Jennifer hopes that combining goats and yoga for others will do what it did for them.
“My goal is to do something that people are comfortable with,” she said.
Erik Hogstrom writes for the Telegraph Herald.