On the front lawn of the Greedy Goats farm in Fayetteville, Jaime Turner was in the downward dog yoga pose surrounded by goats when Willie the goat began to munch on her blonde ponytail.
“I couldn’t stop laughing,” Jaime Turner said. “The goats are really sweet, and I wasn’t worried at all.”
Jaime Turner and her husband, Stephen Turner, joined more than 20 other participants Sunday for Greedy Goats Valentine’s weekend Goat Yoga class. The class was taught by yoga instructor Britta Lanae and was open to both couples and singles.
“I actually bought tickets for Valentine’s Day as a surprise,” Jaime Turner said. “He’s only done yoga once before, but I thought this looked really exciting.”
The Greedy Goats owners, married couple Jason Estes and Connie Reiper-Estes, have had their herd for almost 12 years. The couple brings their goats to a variety of events across Northwest Arkansas, including to Wilson Park to eat invasive plants to eliminate the use of pesticides.
The couple has rescued many of the Greedy Goats from families that thought raising goats would be easier than it really is, Estes said.
Estes holds two to three classes a year for those who are interested, during which he explains the difficulties and responsibilities of raising goats, which is a lot more difficult than people realize, he said.
“People love the idea of goats, but that isn’t the reality of having goats,” Reiper-Estes said. “Those things are far detached. It’s a huge responsibility and (the goats) want your attention 24/7.”
Goat Yoga and other events the Greedy Goats attend serve as a way for people to experience the goats without taking on the responsibility of caring for them, Estes said.
This is the fourth year the Greedy Goats have participated in goat yoga, with the Valentine’s Weekend yoga class being the first of 2020.
The Estes’s pick smaller, more mild-tempered goats to participate in yoga, and the two monitor the class the entire time to ensure both the guests and the goats are safe, Estes said.
Britta Lanae, who owns Britta Lanae Yoga and Acrobatics, has been instructing classes with the Greedy Goats since the summer of 2019 when a mutual friend introduced her to the Estes’s.
“I’ve always really loved animals,” Lanae said. “Anytime I can combine my love for yoga and my love for animals, I’m in.”
Because her yoga classes are more playful and fun to begin with, she hasn’t had to do much to adapt her classes to accommodate the goats, Lanae said.
“I really enjoy the lightheartedness of it all,” Lanae said. “The goats bring a playfulness that reminds everyone that the practice doesn’t have to be so serious. Anyone can stop and play with the goats for a little bit and then jump back in.”
Having the goats around made Jaime Turner feel more at ease in the class, because she wasn’t so focused on doing the poses exactly correct, she said.
The couple plan to come back for future goat yoga classes and want to bring their daughter to enjoy the goats too, Stephen Turner said.
“It’s hard to find things to do that are truly unique,” Stephen Turner said. “So the fact that this was something as common as yoga but done so uniquely was incredible. I felt even more in love with my wife having had this special experience.”