Tags Posts tagged with "goat yoga"

goat yoga

Goat yoga participant Phoebe Barnett with a baby goat on her back. Photo by Colleen Kelly

By Melissa Arnold

Picture this: It’s a balmy summer evening, and you’ve gotten the chance to take a yoga  class on the sprawling grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society. The lush grass springs back under your bare feet as you roll out your mat. The wind blows gently through the trees. As you move from pose to pose, surrounded by nature and gorgeous historic buildings, serenity wraps around you like a blanket.

And then, a baby goat nuzzles against your backside, attempting to climb you like a mountain during Downward Dog.

Scenes like this one play out all summer long at the historical society, which has hosted wildly popular goat yoga classes for the past several years. It’s one of many ways executive director Priya Kapoor is inviting the community to come and explore.

“When I first got here, I fell in love with the community and the property. I’m always thinking about what else we can do and create to make this place as welcoming as it can be,” said Kapoor. “We have a beautiful 22-acre property and we want to be able to showcase this gem that’s in their own backyard.”

Goat yoga originated on a farm in Oregon less than a decade ago and the trend caught on quickly nationwide, largely thanks to social media. When the Smithtown program launched in 2017, the first class had a wait list of more than 700 people.

It’s a joy for Karen Haleiko, owner of Steppin’ Out Ponies and Petting Zoo, to watch her animals interact with people of all ages. The traveling pony ride and petting zoo company focuses on both education and entertainment, as well as animal rescue efforts — they’ve done more than 500 animal rescues in the last eight years.

About 15 goats come to each yoga class. Haleiko said the goats decide for themselves each time if they want to go for a ride.

“My goats are very social, they crave people and genuinely enjoy being a part of this experience,” Haleiko said. “Goats have a calming aura … It’s common to include goats as companions with race horses in between races. They’re also very comical, and being with them makes you laugh, helps you relax and forget about the worries of the world for a while.”

Each 45-minute yoga class is led by Haleiko’s aunt, Doreen Buckman, who’s taught yoga for the last 20 years. Buckman said she admired the strength, flexibility and overall vitality of female yogis in India, where the ancient practice began.

“The environment at the [goat yoga] classes is warm and welcoming. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done yoga before or if you can’t do the poses exactly,” she said. “No one is judging anyone else. We want people to have fun and do what feels most comfortable for them, whether that’s an advanced headstand or spending the time sitting quietly and taking deep breaths.”

The goats are allowed to roam freely and interact with students throughout the session. Bigger goats might cuddle up next to you and let you lean on them for balance, while more spunky goats might bounce around you, climb on you or frolic together. 

This summer’s classes include some animal newcomers, including five baby goats — triplets Punky Brewster, Finn, and Evie; twins Captain America and Loki — as well as an alpaca named Mazie. Once yoga is finished, there’s time to mingle and pet the animals, take pictures and explore the grounds. Keep an eye out for the sheep and chickens that live on the property, too.

Buckman said that many goat yoga attendees are repeat visitors, and she’s not surprised. “One of the things I hear most often is, ‘I really needed this,’” she said. “I call goat yoga a laugh fest — it’s a hilarious time, and laughter really is the best medicine.”

Outdoor yoga will be held throughout the summer at 5:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. in the field behind the Frank Brush Barn at the Smithtown Historical Society, 211 Middle Country Road. Upcoming sessions include July 7, July 21, Aug. 7, Aug. 21 and Sept. 7. Tickets are $30 per person and pre-registration is required at www.eventbrite.com. Children ages 7 through 17 are welcome accompanied by an adult. Please bring a mat, towel and water bottle. Yoga mats will not be provided. For more information, call 631-265-6768.

Join the Smithtown Historical Society for an evening of Goat Yoga on April 19 and April 30 at 5 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. in the field behind the Brush Barn at 211 E. Main Street, Smithtown. All levels welcome. Kelly Mitchell from The Buddha Barn will lead you through a 45 minute practice of yoga with friendly, interactive goats from the Steppin’ Out Ponies and Petting Zoo. BYO mat and water. For ages 17 and older. Tickets are $28 per person on Eventbrite. Questions? Call 631-265-6768.

Participants take part in a Goat Yoga class at the Smithtown Historical Society.

By Leah Chiappino

“Smile!” A goat named Dash steals the show as he is placed on each attendee’s back for a photo-op as they are in a table top position. When my turn comes around, Dash has a hard time staying put on my back due to my inappropriate attire of work clothes, causing him to continually adorably slip off until he is able to steady himself for the shot.

It’s early June and I’m attending a Goat Yoga class at the Smithtown Historical Society. The session, which features 10 to 15 goats of all ages, is taught by yoga instructor Kelly Mitchell of the Buddha Barn in Bellmore, who after being inspired to begin animal activism by a dog fundraiser at her yoga studio, partnered with Karen Bayha from Steppin’ Out Ponies and Petting Zoo to begin teaching these outdoor sessions.

The classes may be more sought out by those looking for an Instagramable shot that is sure to get a surge of likes than die-hard “yogis” but manage to encompass the main benefits of yoga, which are, according to Mitchell, “love, connection, and union.” 

The trend is growing. According to CNBC, Lainey Morse, founder of Original Goat Yoga classes in Corvallis, Oregon, made $160,000 in just her first year of business. 

Since she started last summer, Mitchell said that her classes “usually always fill and sell out fast.” 

Its rise in popularity reaps benefits for the Smithtown Historical Society, which has hosted Goat Yoga since 2017 after former director Marianne Howard started it with a friend, according to its executive director, Priya Kapoor. “I’ve seen people come from as far as Queens just to do this, people who normally wouldn’t know about the Smithtown Historical Society. [Goat Yoga]  has been great for community exposure,” she said.

While its popularity may be due to its appearance on shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Mitchell feels Goat Yoga is a unique opportunity to raise awareness for the goats themselves, most of whom are rescued by Bayha from slaughterhouses and neglectful pet owners. 

Mitchell also hopes to bring to light the importance of animal welfare and abuse prevention. “I hope this makes people think differently about the choices they make,” she said.

On her website, www.buddhabarnyoga.com, the yoga instructor further discusses the impact Goat Yoga is having on her mission and newfound passion for animal welfare. “[Goat Yoga] has changed me as a human being. I wasn’t a big meat eater, but I am now a proud vegan. I wish my eyes were open sooner. But I will spend the rest of my life as an animal rights activist, not just a pet lover. With that being said, many practitioners left with a heightened awareness regarding animals in need. If just one person decides to reduce their meat consumption, then I’ve done my job,” she states.

Mitchell admitted that the yoga community sometimes “turns their nose up” to Goat Yoga, but she herself sees the beauty in it because “yoga itself is about connection; it’s about love. Just looking at the goats, you can see they’re so kind, friendly and silly. It’s just a beautiful way to not take life so seriously, get outside, and have fun with family and friends.”

This was evident throughout the session. From the goat that stayed put on one woman’s yoga mat to the beams across faces as a goat walked by, to the laughter when one goat relieved himself on an innocent yoga mat, the field where the class took place was filled with nothing but joy.

Perhaps the most touching aspect was the bond between Bayha and Dash, a goat whom she bottle fed and raised him “as his mother,” according to Mitchell. Now, when Bayha calls his name, he comes running with the same elation a human child would upon greeting his mother after being away from them for a weekend. The difference in this case was that Bayha was not away from Dash for even five minutes. People were in awe.

“It’s moments like this, when I see the excitement on  people’s faces, that make me feel like I’m making a difference,” Mitchell said. She also feels this is a great way to introduce people to yoga. “It’s not scary. A lot of people that come into my studio are very intimidated. They don’t know what to expect, they think everybody will be twisting up in pretzels. This is a great way to get people to say ‘Wow, I might want to take a yoga class.’


The Smithtown Historical Society hosts Goat Yoga classes for ages 18 and up in the field behind the Frank Brush Barn, 211 East Main St., Smithtown throughout the summer. All levels welcome. Please bring a mat, towel and a bottle of water.

Upcoming classes include July 19, July 26, Aug. 13, Aug. 19, Aug. 20, Sept. 5, Sept. 9 and Sept. 17. A 45-minute session is held at 5:30 and again at 6:45 p.m. Each session is $25 per person and must be paid in advance through www.eventbrite.com.  For more information, call 631-265-6768 or visit www.smithtownhistorical.org.


Spring has sprung and that means it’s time for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce’s annual Health and Wellness Fest. Celebrating its 10th year, the event returns to the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, 350 Old Post Road, Port Jefferson on Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Face artist Joanie Baloney with friends.

Ten years of healthy living; what a milestone for this event! To help celebrate this anniversary there are a lot of special activities planned. For the younger visitors there will be three super heroes walking around for photo opportunities. Have fun meeting Captain America, Wonder Woman and Batman! Face painting will be provided by professional face painter Joanie Baloney. A face art service provider with top-notch skills, both personal and professional, she is an artist and longtime children’s physical therapist who is skilled and is sensitive in working with all ages.

For those who want to experience something more on the wild side, there will be Goat Yoga from 11 a.m. to noon. Goat Yoga is an interactive yoga class that helps you get Zen with goats. This class is suitable for beginners or experienced yogis looking to practice in a new setting. A certified yoga instructor will blend movements and gentle stretches with the playful antics of live goats. Try the “downward goat” or “stretching kid” poses. You won’t want to miss this unscripted one-of-a-kind experience. There will be a group of 12 goats that will assist you in your yoga positions. This will be great fun for those new to yoga or those who need more goats in their life! 

Enjoy goat yoga at this year’s event!

If you want to enjoy more traditional activities, there will be a Zumba class and join in for free lessons on how to line dance with My Country Radio station 96.1. 

In addition, 50 vendors will be on hand to share all types of health-related wellness products and services. This year learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms! 

Or what about cryotherapy, an innovative, holistic wellness solution that enables the human body to recover and rejuvenate itself naturally. By exposing the body to extremely low temperatures (for 1 to 3 minutes), it triggers the body’s most powerful mechanisms of self-protection, self-recovery and self-rejuvenation! Stop by Vita Whole Body & Cryo table and experience a sampling of a facial or local cryotherapy.  

Visit the free food court at this year’s Health and Wellness Fest, courtesy of St. Charles Hospital!

Attendees also will have the benefit of many giveaways along with free screenings that are so important for good health, including blood pressure, body mass index screening (BMI), glucose, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, otoscopy for cerumen (earwax), hearing, cholesterol, balance and fall prevention and posture.

Longtime supporter St. Charles Hospital will again have its healthy food court offering free nutritional food all day. The event has partnered with the Royal Educational Foundation of Port Jefferson, which will be celebrating its sixth annual Power of One Family Fun Run. The 2k race finishes at the high school where runners are welcome to visit the health fest.

Come join the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce for this fun Eat Well, Live Well free event. For further information, call 631-473-1414 or visit www.portjeffhealth.com.