If you want to combine a love of animals with a desire to unwind, are a hard-hitting yoga fan looking to partake in the practice with a twist, or are simply wanting to try something new... then Yoga with Goats is for you.
One teacher from Fareham is offering what’s been described by her students as ‘an uplifting experience that’s good for the well-being of the soul’. But what on earth does it involve?
Simply? Practising yoga in the company of cuddly, baby goats.
In an enclosed outdoor paddock at Sandy Hills Farm near Wickham, students can practice as much or as little yoga as they please while enjoying the distractions of goats, who will undoubtedly give you their undivided attention.
And class organiser Rachael Wagstaffe, who is the owner of the Lotus Yoga Studio at Fareham, admits she’s never laughed as much in her life as she has done leading the two sessions that have already taken place.
The 34-year-old says: ‘We roll out our mats and get started in a way that any other normal yoga class would, but we continue with a lot more giggling.
‘The baby goats are hyperactive, they run about and go underneath your legs, climb on top of you, or nibble you, which is funny because they don’t have teeth.
‘They can also pull your clothes, climb in your bag if you have one, or curl up on your mat.
‘The cuddles and laughter help to release a feel-good hormone called oxytocin and visitors will leave feeling totally uplifted and in a super good mood for the rest of the day.
‘My students have said that’s what’s happened to them.
‘The goats have just as much fun as those taking the class and are animals that have been rejected by their parents.
‘They’re bottle fed and are used to human contact, which is why the owner of the farm, Karen Pickett, was more than open to the idea of Yoga with Goats – she knew they would love it.
‘That’s why she also holds sessions for special needs groups who go along to enjoy cuddles with the goats. Contact with them does you the world of good.’
The idea behind Rachael’s Yoga with Goats sessions came from a video posted in the Facebook group she shares with her students.
A number of them commented on how fun the practice would be to try, before another mentioned she knew the owner of Sandy Hills Farm – a goat farm that’s home to more than 150 of the animlas.
Alexandra Maclean-Dridje has been a student of Rachael’s for four years.
She’s taken part in both sessions, and says everyone should give Yoga with Goats a try.
The 29-year-old mum-to-be says: ‘It was a really cool surprise that Rachael managed to make Yoga with Goats happen. I was so excited to try it – and it’s absolutely brilliant.
‘The main focus isn’t hardcore yoga, it’s all about the experience of doing a little, but interacting with the goats.
‘If you get distracted, that’s fine. You’re allowed to forget what pose you’re supposed to be doing.’
‘It’s very uplifting and puts you in a good mood, I’m currently pregnant and needed that little boost to make me feel better, and it worked.’
After the success of the second class, Rachael says she’s come a long way since opening her studio.
The business owner adds: ‘I started teaching yoga in 2012, originally using community centres, but decided I wanted my own space to dedicate to the practice.
‘I opened Lotus Yoga Studio in 2014 and was working part-time alongside teaching, but one class per week eventually turned into four classes per day and I’ve been doing that comfortably for a while.
‘We had about 10 baby goats with us at the last session, and my cheeks were hurting so much because it was just hilarious.
‘It’s an experience like no other. There are so many different types of yoga: doga – yoga with dogs, and yoga with bunnies and cats, that it’s just nice to try something different.
‘Some of the people who’ve taken part so far are my students and some are people I’ve never met before, who wanted to try it out because they like animals, or wanted to try yoga with a twist.
‘It’s for all different kinds of people.’
‘If the interest is there, which it has been so far, I’ll look to return next summer.
‘It really is the perfect way to unwind.’
Because the sessions take place outside, they will only be held in the summer – and when the weather’s good.
Rachael has two more sessions planned, one on July 15, and one on August 19. Each session can cater for up to about 20 students.
Amelia Foster is another of Rachael’s pupils and admits she didn’t get much yoga done during the last Yoga with Goats session.
The 41-year-old says: ‘We can’t have pets in our family home because of allergies, so it was nice for me to be able to interact with the baby goats, who are so friendly.
‘It’s very therapeutic to be able to chill out and stretch, and have a cuddle at the same time.
‘No-one who takes part in the classes is made to feel they have to do lots of yoga. You can stop and play whenever you wish. The experience is worth trying for the well-being factor alone.
‘I can’t recommend it enough.’
Sandy Hills Farm is at Winchester Road, Shedfield, near Wickham. The classes on July 15 and August 19 will run from 10.30am-11.30am, and are £12.50 each.
For more details and to book, visit bookwhen.com/lotusyogastudio. If classes are cancelled because of bad weather, Rachael will contact those who have signed up.
l Yoga sessions that take place in the company of baby goats
l A way to stretch, chill-out and unwind
l A chance to interact with friendly, cuddly animals
l An opportunity to try something different
l Run by a yoga teacher and the owner of Fareham’s Lotus Yoga Studio
l Safe and friendly
l Take place at Sandy Hills Farm near Wickham
l Take place outside, in an enclosed paddock where some of the baby goats live
l Are one-hour long
l Are £12.50 each
l Can cater for up to 20 people
l Can be booked online