Carpe Capra: Goat yoga is deeper than just doing yoga with goats

Emilee Wentland, photos by Timothy Mather

NO JOKE – GOAT YOGA MIGHT FLOAT YOUR BOAT. Bifrost Farms owner Meg Wittenmyer will be hosting goat yoga sessions beginning in May.
NO JOKE – GOAT YOGA MIGHT FLOAT YOUR BOAT. Bifrost Farms owner Meg Wittenmyer will be hosting goat yoga sessions beginning in May.

Yoga is a calming act practiced by many to achieve serenity and peace. Sitting on mats with their bodies contorted in various positions, yogis surround themselves with silence, letting out an occasional “om.” Replace the silence with giggles and the occasional “om” with bleating, and you get the newest trend across the United States: goat yoga.

“I thought the Chippewa Valley deserved something fun like this.” – Meg Wittenmyer, owner of Bifrost Farms

Goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like: yoga with goats. The trend started in Oregon with farm owner Laney Morse, according to CNN. Bifrost Farms owner Meg Wittenmyer got the idea of hosting her own goat yoga sessions to try to diversify her goat farm in Boyceville.

“A lot of the trends and the fun things don’t get out here in the country,” Wittenmyer said. “... I thought the Chippewa Valley deserved something fun like this.”

She wanted the sessions to be more than just goat yoga. Instead, she wanted to make a day of it. Wittenmyer asked her friend Tracy Chipman, a certified yoga instructor and professional storyteller, to help. They decided to name the series of events “Carpe Capra,” which translates to “seize the goat.” The name came from the saying “carpe diem” because goats are always in the moment, Wittenmyer said.

Goats are social animals. They love to hang out and interact with people. When they join in on yoga sessions, it’s not uncommon for them to climb on participants’ backs, snuggle in between their legs, or even chew on their hair.

“I’m assuming if you’re here, you want a goat on you,” Wittenmyer said to a group of first-time goat yogis.

Once everyone has arrived, Chipman and Wittenmyer give a brief introduction to “Carpe Capra,” including information about Bifrost Farms, an overview of the afternoon, and some fun facts about the goats. After the introduction, everyone walks over to the barnyard to pick up their baby goats, called “kids.” Wittenmyer has 10 kids and 23 adults, each a miniature Nubian. Each goat yoga participant gets to carry his or her own kid from the barnyard back to where the yoga is performed.

Chipman, who has been practicing yoga since the ’90s, had never practiced goat yoga prior to the test run of Carpe Capra with some friends. Along with Chipman and the attendees, it was also the goats’ first time at goat yoga.

Not usually into yoga trends, Chipman was drawn to goat yoga because of her friendship with Wittenmyer, and she knew it would be a joyous experience. Those who sign up for a session should not be looking for a workout, Chipman said, but instead they should be ready for an afternoon of joy.

“We might not do too much yoga today,” Chipman said. “We’ll just follow the lead of the goats.”

Chipman instructed the group to do yoga poses that made it easy for the goats to climb on everyone. Downward facing dog, where yogis are posed in an upward facing “V” shape, and table, where they’re on their hands and knees with their backs flat, are just some examples of easy-to-climb poses. The goats tried hopping on top of participants at every opportunity and by any means possible. Goats don’t care about personal space, not that any of the attendees seemed to mind.

Each pose was met with a series of giggles as everyone – including Chipman – was bombarded with goat love. The goats did a good job of getting around from person to person, so everyone was covered in goats at some point.

The goats aren’t trained to do anything: They just roam around and snuggle up during yoga, doing whatever they please.

“Don’t ever try to get a goat to do anything,” Wittenmyer said.

After yoga, Wittenmyer brought out snacks for everyone to try, including a few flavors of goat cheese she made using milk from goats on her farm. To go with it, she had crackers, almonds, sangria, and sparkling water. While everyone was eating, Chipman told stories about goats. They’re prominent in mythology, so she talked about old myths with characters like Pan and Yule.

The afternoon ends with a “goat walk,” where everyone walks through the pastures and into the woods with Wittenmyer’s goats. During goat walks, Wittenmyer takes the goats outside the gate – something she said was a “special treat” for them. While everyone is out in the pasture, goats will come up to people and follow them around.

Something to know before you head out to Bifrost Farms for your own goat yoga experience is that a goat may pee on you, which Chipman said is good luck. Yoga mats are available for rent in case you don’t want to put their own mat at risk. Closed-toe shoes are ideal for walking in the pasture after yoga, since the grass is long and not exactly free of any smelly stepping hazards.

Bifrost Farms will begin offering monthly goat yoga sessions on Sunday, May 20. Those who are interested can sign up online at bifrostfarms.com/carpecapra for $55.

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