Goat yoga gains popularity in Bel Air

Two young goats frolick about, snacking on leaves and small piles of feed. The brother and sister kids, Samson and Delilah, chase each other among smiling humans, sniffing and nibbling on the occasional shoe.

This happy scene was not playing out at a local petting zoo, but at a yoga studio.

Samson and Delilah are the newest yogis to join ETG Yoga in Bel Air.

Goat yoga has spread across the country since November, when an Oregon farm hosted the first known class where goats interacted with yoga-practicing humans. At ETG, instructor Katie Bell and studio owner Kelley Duncan decided to capitalize on the fast-moving trend and brought goat yoga classes to Harford County in June.

“It started organically,” says Duncan, whose Lunar Bay Studio houses ETG Yoga and other artistic enterprises. Lunar Bay doesn’t do targeted marketing, Duncan says, so she thought the goats would be a good way to attract word-of-mouth attention to yoga classes. Bell’s first two goat yoga classes sold out in about 14 hours each.

“We chose to add goat yoga because the public wanted it,” she says. “Since we’ve done it, it’s enhanced the yoga class so much.”

Samson and Delilah are Nigerian dwarf goats from Baltimore County’s Shine On goat farm. They’ll stay small and grow to no more than two feet tall. The goats themselves don’t contort and meditate, but roam freely between humans. Duncan places a leaf and some feed on every yoga mat so the goats come by to interact with every practitioner at least once.

At a July class, Bell encourages the yogis to take a break from their poses to interact with the roving creatures. Yogis dip, stretch and unwind to reach Samson and Delilah, who amble over arms and between legs, sometimes stopping to chomp on the corner of a mat or poke at a downward-facing dog.

Bel Air residents Emma Sybert and Katie Nuce were attending the class together after Nuce talked Sybert into it.

“I’ve done one yoga class before and I’m not too into it, but we love goats,” Sybert says. At one point, Delilah wanders over to a supine Sybert and attempts to snack on her ponytail. The near-haircut doesn’t bother Sybert much — “Definitely, I’d come back,” she says.

Sara Birkmire and Tammy Wallin were attending the class for Birkmire’s birthday. They poke their heads up and crane their necks for a glimpse of the goats from their spots at the back of the studio.

“It was fantastic,” says Wallin, the “lucky” friend Birkmire brought as her guest.

“We were cracking up when the one started eating someone’s hair,” she says. “I would come back, just to show a friend who hasn’t seen this before.”

The goats don’t necessarily provide any measurable health benefit, but they do add a “joyful,playful energy” to the class, Bell says. “Everyone leaves with a smile.”

At the end of class, Bell gives her students an option: End their practice with the traditional shavasana, a relaxed lying pose, or “pop up to watch the goats.”

Twenty-eight heads shoot up.

ETG Yoga offers goat yoga on Sept. 9 and 16, both at 3 p.m. The studio is located inside Lunar Bay Studio at 2123 Conowingo Road Bel Air, Maryland.

dohl@baltsun.com

twitter.com/dtohl

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