If someone had told me that I was to spend a Sunday afternoon performing yoga alongside rambunctious baby goats, I wouldn’t have believed him.
But, then again, maybe I would have. Once I saw the internet trend of “goat yoga” — yoga classes that incorporate goats, which climb atop and cuddle with the yogis — I became intrigued, and, admittedly, a bit puzzled.
So there I was at Nadeau Farm in Hamden, Connecticut, breathing deeply in the child’s pose position (Balasana), with a small hoof rubbing my arm, seeking attention.
I looked up to see Princess Diana, one of the many goats that grazed the yoga pen, born between April and May. Princess Diana had taken a liking to me — and I to her — and she repeatedly returned to my mat for more hugs, cuddles and petting, which I offered willingly.
(We both share a similar hair color, so maybe she felt comfort in the resemblance.)
Unfortunately, goat yoga isn’t a common experience in the immediate area. So, I traveled an hour up the Merritt Parkway to find the farm, which is situated on 20 acres. Tucked away in the countryside, it was surrounded by first-rate views of autumn’s glorious arrival, which were utterly serene.
Home to a variety of animals — from goats and chickens, to ducks, roosters, cows, sheep, donkeys and even an energetic dog that serves as the unofficial security guard — the farm has a soundtrack of mating calls and, yes, food requests, heard from all directions.
“We’re Hamden’s best-kept secret,” said Leah Hilton, who runs the farm with her family. “The animals have their own personalities.”
Nadeau Farm first opened in 1939 and is one of only four remaining farms in the area. Since May, goat yoga has been added to its roster, which also includes specialty products such as chicken and duck eggs.
When the farm began taking in rescue goats, Hilton explained, expenses accrued. The costs of food, shelter, care and all other necessities for the goats have reached $45,000 annually, which comes out of Nadeau’s pockets. To help with fees, Hilton began offering a yoga class where attendees could interact with the baby goats in an idyllic environment.
And, I must admit, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
The class started off with some giggling as my friend and I joined in on a teenager’s birthday party. Eventually, the laughter subsided. As we began a series of yoga stretches and poses, the goats roamed the pen, playing with each other, sitting on attendees’ mats and, ultimately, finding places to rest. At one point, three were seated around my mat.
After attending the class, I understand the hype. Psychologically, petting an animal helps lower stress and elicits feelings of relaxation. How could you not smile while petting a baby goat? Coupled with the actual yoga — a mind-body journey — the class is designed to offer a peaceful, feel-good experience for its attendees.
And that it did.
Nadeau Farm is at 74 Calamus Meadow Road in Hamden. Classes are $25 and are held Saturdays and Sundays, with the exception of the winter months. For more, visit nadeaufarm.com or call 203-671-5690.