Kidding around

Kidding around

The setting was perfect for yoga -- a peaceful rural location on a warm, sunny, late spring afternoon, with a breeze rustling the trees and flowers and turning the windmill. But the people sitting on their yoga mats waiting for the class to begin were really there for the goats.

In late May, yoga instructor Maggie Taylor led her first yoga class that included goats. Taylor is the founder and co-owner of the 7-year-old Delight Flower Farm, which is in its second year operating on land leased from Prairie Fruits Farm in northeast Urbana.

Last year, Taylor started a Yoga on the Farm series with classes at the flower farm. The series last summer included a flower arranging class and a medicinal plant walk. She’d noticed a trend of yoga classes with goats in videos she’d seen online, so Taylor decided to try it with some of the young goats at Prairie Fruits Farm. The first class sold out in 24 hours.

Blog Photo“People like baby goats, and Leslie (Cooperband, co-owner of Prairie Fruits Farm) has been a big supporter of our farm and been interested in yoga. It just made sense for it to come together in this way,” Taylor said.

She planned a low-key yoga class, expecting the participants to be somewhat distracted.

“This is going to be a goofy good time, and I’m glad you’re game for it,” Taylor told the class as it started.

“There will be sounds and distractions. You are doing yoga on a farm with goats,” she said. “As much as you can, take in the experience with ease and a lightness of heart.”

Cooperband and her husband, Wes Jarrell, brought several young goats to the patio where the class was held. Only one of them initially showed interest in yoga. But by halfway through the class, all four goats were wandering through the rows of yoga mats, being petted and nibbling on ponytails and mats. They chased each other, leaping over outstretched legs. Only one yoga mat was pooped on.

Lynne Slightom and Esteban Cruz drove from Springfield for the class. The goats were what drew them there, although Slightom said she also wanted to support a female-owned business.

It was Cruz’s first yoga class; he had only done yoga to YouTube videos previously.

“I thought it was relaxing with the goats. I didn’t find them that distracting,” Cruz said. “Just to hear them nearby was really good.”

Blog PhotoKrista Kruszewski, a University of Illinois veterinary medicine student, volunteers occasionally at Prairie Fruits Farm. She doesn’t do yoga regularly and also came for the goats.

“I loved it. I thought it was so much fun,” Kruszewski said. “It was a good stretch, a beautiful day and the goats were awesome. They were jumping over my legs and eating my shoelaces. I had a blast.”

Taylor said the first class was an experiment, but it went well enough that she scheduled two more yoga classes with goats, on June 14 and June 30.

They quickly sold out. Taylor is considering adding another date if the young goats don’t get too big to be included.

“They’re such sweet creatures to be around,” she said. “It’s a really gentle energy.”

 

Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner, swimmer and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.

 Photos: Top: Esteban Cruz and Lynne Slightom of Springfield talk with yoga instructor Maggie Taylor, holding a goat from Prairie Fruits farm, following the yoga with goats class at Delight Flower Farm in northeast Urbana. Bottom: Krista Kruszewski cuddles a goat after a yoga with goats class at Delight Flower Farm in northeast Urbana. Photos by Jodi Heckel/for The News-Gazette  

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