When people think of yoga, many picture a quiet studio, not an ag barn — but Thursday’s yoga sessions at Rudder High School weren’t exactly traditional.
The sessions featured special guests in the form of 14 goats who joined the class as participants progressed through the movements.
Jill Presnal, one of the yoga instructors for Thursday’s 30-minute sessions, described it as “whimsical and fun” yoga.
The goats came courtesy of Carrie Arnold, a nurse at Sam Houston Elementary School, and her family. Though they were handled more when they were first born in February, Arnold said, they had become a little shy and were hesitant to jump on anyone’s backs during the sessions.
Even when the goats just walked around and sniffed people and their shoes, Megan Meier said, the goats were a fun and calming aspect of the class. She called it a good way to end the day.
“I love having the little ones here. It’s really cool when you feel them tickle on your toes and you just feel their little breath around you,” said Meier, who showed goats as a student in Brenham. “I’d do it again if they offered it.”
The yoga was just part of meeting — and petting — the goats for Liz Jordan, a first grade teacher at Sul Ross Elementary School.
“I was only worried about the goats,” she said. “I didn’t do any yoga. Literally, I think at one point I rolled around just to touch the goat. It was fun.”
After wiping off some of the shavings coating the ag barn floor, Jordan called the experience “everything and more” than she was expecting.
Hosted by Rudder High School FFA, the goat yoga was a new way to engage the broader community, Rudder ag teacher Michelle Knox said.
“We’re always looking for ways to kind of involve our community. We’ve kind of done well getting involved in our school, so this was an activity that we could branch out and kind of get different people in the community,” she said.
Participants were encouraged to make a $5 donation to one of four nonprofit organizations that correspond to the health benefits of yoga and the animal aspect. Buckets were set up at the check-in table where people could leave a donation for the American Heart Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Diabetes Association or Guide Dogs of America. Camp Gladiator also was on hand to discuss the health aspect of yoga and other exercise options.
When the idea for the classes began, Knox said, it was just because she wanted to do goat yoga and found the nearest location was either Houston or Austin.
“We’re hoping that maybe this is something we can kind of keep doing. The kids have talked about other animals, other farm animals, so it’s almost like ag outreach,” Knox said. “It’s really cool to see kind of something that was just an idea actually unfold and see that there was actually a turnout.”
Turnout was steady for the nine sessions offered Thursday, with most sessions hosting at least 10 people.
Although the ag students do not think much of being near goats, she said, goat yoga is the closest some people have been to the animals.
Even for Knox, who is used to being around goats, the babies make it a little more fun, she said.
For Rudder High School freshman Richie Moten, Thursday’s classes were his first introduction to both yoga and goats.
“Goat yoga, it’s different. It’s outside your comfort zone. … It was really cool, because I’ve never been this close to a goat before, plus I like animals,” he said.