Goat yoga in North Saanich a first, a big hit at Victoria Lavender Farm
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Goat yoga in North Saanich a first, a big hit at Victoria Lavender Farm

First there was goat cuddling, then there was goat pajamas and now, of all things, goat yoga?

Yogis and non-yogis alike gathered in North Saanich this past weekend to participate in Victoria Lavender Farm’s first-ever goat yoga – or as it’s affectionately called, goga – session.

“Why did I decide to do it? I’ve been raising Nigerian Dwarf goats for four years and in addition to our lavender business here on the farm they are a highlight, especially at this time of year with the new babies,” said Alan Mayfield, Victoria Lavender owner.

“We put an ad on our Facebook page and we had just under 19,000 hits in eight days, so that was obviously a sign there was interest.”

Yoga instructor Jackie Rioux said “it was kind of a serendipitous thing” about how she partnered with Mayfield. A friend was the one who saw the original ad on Facebook and encouraged her to do it. Rioux has been practicing across the Peninsula for four years and has logged over 500 hours of training.

Yoga is often seen as a focused practice, not one with many distractions and, of course, practicing in a paddock filled with baby goats can be a tad distracting. Never having lead a goat yoga class before, Rioux approached it with an open mind.

“Sometimes our thoughts become too rigid around what yoga is and isn’t … so this should be interesting and fun,” she said.

The class started out normally — as normal as doing yoga on a bed of straw surrounded by farm animals can be. The baby goats seemed a little shy at first, but once the yogis switched into Child’s Pose — a resting posture practiced in the fetal position, with a flat back and arms outstretched — the true playful personality of the animals came through.

“At one point one was nibbling on my braid, while I was petting another one,” said Courtney Noble, one of the yogis. “Yoga is so good for your body and your mind and baby goats are good for the soul.”

While the students were in Child’s Pose one particularly playful goat jumped from back to back down a line of five people. The students were trying to keep composed and hold the posture, but ultimately smiles and laughter ensued, and cell phones came out for the perfect photo op.

“It’s something fun and new,” said Deanna Somers and Lyn Hyldig, participating yogis. “It’s a little Vancouver Island-ish, for sure.”

The class had 25 students, most of them local, although there were a few exceptions.

Kailee Purnell and Mariyah Dunn-Jones drove an hour from Sooke just to be a part of the class, even though both of them have never done yoga before.

“We just love the baby goats,” they both said.

There was even a mother-daughter duo from Calgary, Alberta. Of course, they didn’t travel all that way just to be a part of the goat yoga session, but they couldn’t miss the opportunity while they were in town. Cindy Casper saw Mayfield’s ad when she was helping move her daughter Erin from Victoria back to Calgary after graduation and knew they had to try it.

“That was just the best day — the best yoga,” said Casper, while purchasing a custom goat yoga tank-top from the farm shop.

As for Rioux’s first time instructing a goga class, “I had fun. I had a lot of fun and I got to know what the goats want as well. They really seemed to really enjoy Child’s Pose, but with the weather it requires us to keep moving to stay warm, but the goats want us to stay still so they can enjoy us, too.”

Mayfield said goga will continue every Saturday and Sunday, each day with a morning and afternoon class. He plans to keep it going throughout the summer until Labour Day when the farm closes for the season.

Classes are $25. For more, visit Victoria Lavender Goat Yoga on Facebook.

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Goat yoga in North Saanich a first, a big hit at Victoria Lavender Farm

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