Goat Yoga: Instructors explain new exercise activity


Corryn Brock

Heidi Hawkins scoops oats into cups for participants in goat yoga to spread on their mats.

Zoë Donovan, Staff Reporter

Yoga enthusiasts and animal lovers flocked to the Lincoln Log Cabin to participate in Goat Yoga, one of the more recent exercise trends of the last few years, Saturday morning.

Goat Yoga at the Lincoln Log Cabin saw participants go through an hour-long class in which they stretched and balanced while inside of a pen with several goats. Feed was passed around to encourage the goats to get close.

Participants pet, patted and hugged the goats.  

Megan Henness, the recreation supervisor for Charleston, organized Goat Yoga.

Henness said it was interesting how much people enjoyed the activity.

“It’s an odd thing, but people really love goats,” Henness said.  

Certified yoga instructor Linda Ross teaches the class.  

Ross said she did research on the best way to approach yoga with the farm animals on her own.  

Henness said Goat Yoga has been a popular activity since she brought it to the cabin.  

The main priority when organizing the event was safety and fun, both for the goats and people, she said.

The goats are friendly, personable and enjoy being around people, Henness said. 

They happily gobble food from different people while nibbling on hair, clothes and yoga mats, she said.  

At some points, individuals in the class skip the yoga to simply hug or pat the goats; one girl even placed a bit of feed on her forehead and allowed a couple of the goats to eat it.

Participants should expect to get their clothing and other personal items dirty when they go to Goat Yoga, and the instructors recommend they dress accordingly and bring a towel or yoga mat that can get dirty.

Emilie Emberton said she was totally new to yoga but would recommend the experience to anyone.  

“It was awesome,” Emberton said. “Super relaxing, and the goats are super cute.” 

The Hawkins Family Farm owns the goats with Heidi Hawkins assisting.  

The goats are an FFA project of Heidi’s daughter, Ashley Updegraff, a senior at Charleston High School.  

Hawkins said her daughter raised the goats, and some of them made it to the state fair.  

Registration is required ahead of time, and it costs $15 to attend, but those interested should sign up early as it usually fills up a few weeks before.  

Those interested can find more information and register at charlestonillinois.org or check the Charleston Parks and Recreation Facebook page.  

Zoë Donovan can be reached at 581–2812 or at [email protected].