Rediscovering Columbus: Wildlife

Yes, ‘goat yoga’ is a thing—and you’re gonna wanna try it.

Meet the geniuses behind the workout we think is Greatest Of All-Time.

Dana Bernstein and Katherine Harrison are a match made in nanny goat nirvana. Harrison herds a group of goats, and plenty of other critters on her farm. Bernstein is a capital city yogi with a fondness for creatures, fitness, and wide open spaces. Harrison plans and hosts weddings and events at the Hangar at Harrison Farm. They met when they were introduced by a mutual friend as Bernstein planned her wedding. Harrison, who loves to share her earthy lifestyle with others, invited Bernstein to teach an open-air class on her property.

“She introduced me to yoga, and the goats adored her when she visited the farm.  As our friendship grew—knowing that we worked together so well on the coordination of her wedding—it made perfect sense to try bringing our loves of goats and yoga together,” Harrison said. For me and the animals this has truly been life-changing, as the support from our community has allowed the farm to grow in remarkable ways.”

And for those in central Ohio looking to find new ways to activate healthy habits, it’s a workout and a story. Sure, “goat yoga” sounds weird, but when you hear Bernstein describe it, it makes all the sense in the world. So…yoga, just with more cute?

“There are certain human-friendly goats out of the herd that don’t mind and maybe even like the attention—and also the extra feed,” she said. “The goats can be comic relief as they bicker over who gets the sweet feed first or race across a row of yogis. They can be a healing presence, curling up on a mat and falling asleep. They sometimes nudge a student for a pet and look at you with their sweet little faces. A lot of times they make weird noises. I personally am convinced that yoga classes are 100 percent more adorable, funny and heartwarming with goats. For some who are intimidated by yoga in the first place, Bernstein says there is nothing to fear—even if you’ve had a dark experience with a petting zoo buried in your past. The goats on the farm were bottle fed at birth so they are just some cute, docile, and curious little creatures roaming the area. And as they say, sometimes you just gotta face your fears…

“These goats are selected (or seemingly select themselves) to be around humans. Goats are most definitely not domesticated animals, but there are some that are super-sweet and friendly. These are the ones that come to our yoga classes,” she said. “The front row gets a lot of attention, but the back row might be a good place to start.”

Well, and if you do love goats, the front row will earn you a spot in the animals’ good graces, nearly immediately.

“It is fascinating to see how they associate the arrival of the yogis with the imminent opportunity to enjoy sweet feed,” Harrison said. “As yogis start placing their mats on the lawn in front of the barn, the yoga goats line up eagerly at the gate awaiting the moment they get to make their grand entrance!  Goats truly act on instinct—versus thought—and they have come to associate very good things with the arrival of yogis to the farm.”

Now, in their third season, Goat Yoga at Harrison is growing wildly in popularity,  with people taking part in the sessions from as far away as California, Texas, Iowa, Virginia—even Israel.

“I suspect people are first intrigued by the novelty of ‘goat yoga,’ but I perceive that many of them find something special about this farm and its animals which brings them back,” Harrison said. “We have numerous repeat attendees, and we have met so many amazing individuals because of the yoga classes. This farm has brought me comfort, challenge, and peace throughout my days. It gives me great joy to see it do that for others, as well. I always knew this farm was capable of so much, and I am incredibly grateful for the support which our community gives us.”

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