FREEPORT – Animal lovers know the effects of interacting with animals to create calm.
Combining that with exercise is the mission of goat yoga, bringing people and animals together in a calming yoga experience that proponents claim can improve sleeping habits, memory, mobility, and survival rates after life-threatening illness or trauma.
When Jen Montgomery from Galena decided to combine yoga with goats, she did so not through a scientific method, but through her own experience. She owns Galena Goat Yoga.
Montgomery used to work in the corporate world. After her job was downsized a few years ago, she took time to reflect on her life and future.
She became a certified yoga teacher and told her husband that she wanted to open a studio. Her goat yoga business was born, and for the past two years, Montgomery said it was “good for the soul” to combine the mindfulness of yoga with the unconditional love that comes from interacting with animals.
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Montgomery took their goats to a meeting in the gated yard of VOICES on Tuesday. The event was started by the staff at VOICES in Freeport to offer a night of calm where April was the month of sexual assault awareness.
More than 30 women and children took part in a warm spring evening. Montgomery stood in front of the group and explained the benefits of combining goats and yoga.
Mary Gerbode of Lena said she liked the healing effects of yoga and when she learned that she could mix yoga with goats, she took the opportunity for the new experience.
“Yoga helps me deal with health problems, and I love goats,” said Gerbode. “Being with goats while I practice healing is a dream come true for me.”
“Doing goat yoga with people is interesting, and teaching yoga with goats means that I will be able to practice something important in my life and make people feel good,” said Montgomery. “Opening my studio has helped me deal with difficult times in my life. I have gained the strength and determination to recover. You can do that through yoga. “
Montgomery said she was happy to bring her yoga style to VOICES to “help people escape what makes them sick and put a smile on their faces”.
During goat yoga, pygmy goats roam freely around the class, cuddling, rubbing and sometimes climbing on top of the students. Montgomery said goat yoga is a form of animal-assisted therapy, like therapeutic riding or therapy dogs. The goat interaction calms the person down and improves their mood, which has an overall effect.
Beth Maskell, executive director of VOICES, said she and the staff wanted to create something fun for the community that would support sexual assault survivors.
“VOICES served 700 survivors last year,” said Maskell. “60 percent of survivors of sexual assault are young people. Our survivors are important. What we have learned is that yoga helps with trauma. It helps connect the healing in the body. “
Maskell said while the goat yoga session was a light-hearted activity, the organization plans to place ribbons in the community to raise awareness of sexual assault and how VOICES is there to help.
VOICES of Stephenson County provides assistance, such as counseling, advocacy, and education, to individuals and families to manage and prevent domestic violence, as well as sexual assault and mistreatment. For more information on VOICES, visit Voicesofsc.org or call 815-235-9421.
Jane Lethlean: firstname.lastname@example.org; @ DOGWMN2