To Be A Kid Again

Goat yoga is fun for your soul.


As a registered yoga teacher, my happy place is flowing through sun salutations in a quiet studio with clean floors never touched by shoes. 

So, when my dear friend, Stacia, reaches out with an invitation to try goat yoga, my first reaction is to roll my eyes. “Goat yoga is an oxymoron,” I quip. “How can one find meditative peace amidst the chaos of farm animals? Not to mention the sanctity of my yoga mat—goats eat everything!” 

“They provide mats,” Stacia tells me. “Don’t overthink it—it’s just for fun.” 

I am used to Stacia talking me into adventures. Acknowledging that she keeps life interesting, I brush aside my traditional training, and we head to Pactamere Farm in Hanover County, about a 30-minute drive from Richmond. 

As we drive the curvy back roads, I’m reminded how quickly Virginia turns from urban landscape to nature—whether seascape, mountains, or, in this case, farmland. I admire acres and acres of soybean and corn fields, my heart skipping a beat at the sight of grazing cows and horses, the city gal in me appreciating bucolic miles of green.

Once at Pactamere, the bleating sounds and earthy animal smells ignite happy memories of trips to Maymont with my now- adult children. The farm is inviting, well-kept, and full of happy energy. There, we join about 15 other people, most of whom—like us—arrive with the main goal of trying something new. 

Before socializing with goats, we are led to an open shelter lined with colorful mats, then given instructions by our calm and lanky yoga instructor, LeVar. “Our goats adore people; they want to play with you,” he tells us. “They especially enjoy jumping on your back in ‘tabletop’ and ‘downward facing dog,’ so be prepared. When you’ve had enough, slowly sit up, or wave your hand for a team member.” Pausing for effect, he then adds, “goats are biological creatures with busy digestive tracts. Should droppings happen on your mat, simply kick them off. You can wash your hands at the end.”

I shoot Stacia a look. She knows I’m a complete germaphobe, but she returns my gaze with one that says, don’t even think about backing out! 

And with that, yoga begins, and goats are released to spread their love around the room. 

Pactamere Farms is owned and affectionately cared for by Eric and Katie Evans. A family business, they started Goat Yoga RVA after both suffered losses. They credit their goats with easing the healing process. 

“Giving people these moments to forget their troubles is the most rewarding,” Katie says. “Most people don’t get opportunities to be around farm animals anymore. What used to be a regular part of life is now a special occasion.” 

Eric goes on to explain that domesticated ten thousand years ago, goats are the friendliest of livestock and thrive on human interaction. “Yoga with other animals usually requires food or a substance like catnip to spark engagement,” he tells me. “Goats interact by choice.”

This is ideal, I learn from Nancy R. Gee, Ph.D., Director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Human-Animal Interaction.

“Animal agency is paramount in any animal-human exchange,” Gee tells me. “Animals must be the ones choosing whether or not to interact and should never be forced.” 

Adding to why goat yoga works so well, especially for groups, Eric says, “unlike dogs who often attach to one owner, goats bond equally with everyone. Time and time again I’ve seen people dragged here, usually guys by their significant other, and I take special joy in watching their expressions change from ‘this is going to suck’ to ‘this is awesome!’”

And awesome it is—squeals of delight erupt as goats visit patrons, by choice. After a few sniffs from a goat named Denali, I feel my first weighty pounce along with an intense sense of joy. After a few belly laughs, the serious yoga instructor in me regains composure while I work to extend my leg and opposite arm with Denali on my back. 

Stacia gently scoots away the nanny fixated on her red curls and snaps a picture of me with her phone. “Hilarious!” she exclaims, before returning to her mat.

LeVar is the perfect blend of competent yoga instructor and playful heart. I admire his ability to cue and model poses amidst the mayhem. While some attendees give up on yoga to focus on cuddles, I remain committed to the poses. Even though I know to expect ruminant visits, it is always a delightful surprise when a Nigerian Dwarf goat lands on me. In fact, I quickly reach the place of contentment I associate with yoga practice, along with an extra infusion of joy. 

Dr. Gee connects my extra happiness to scholarly research. “Interacting with animals is scientifically proven to elevate mood,” says Dr. Gee, “along with multiple other health benefits. In adults, animal-human interaction decreases stress, depression, agitation, and even symptoms of PTSD. Objective physiologic indicators include decreased cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.” 

She goes on to tell me that interacting with animals even helps us think better. “Research shows that the executive functioning of the human brain to stay on task and problem solve is improved by interacting with animals.” 

Now that’s a lot of buck (a male goat) for your buck! 

Despite what sounds on the surface like an event I’d never recommend—yoga surrounded by pooping animals that chew on your hair, clothes, and mat—I leave Pactamere Farms an enthusiast. My personal experience, also endorsed by Stacia, supports Dr. Gee’s scholarly research. Our moods are definitely elevated. We have an absolute blast! 

The contentment I achieve (called santosha in Sanskrit) makes me remember a main goal of yoga—to stay in the present moment, without ruminating about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. This state of mindfulness is easy to accomplish by practicing yoga with goats. I reached a level of carefree exuberance that I hadn’t felt since childhood. I truly felt like a kid again (pun intended!). 

Goat Yoga Tips From Stacia & Sherrie
  1. For even more laughs, go with a friend or group of friends to share the experience.
  2. Wear exercise clothes that cling to and cover your body.
  3. Keep your hair pinned as close to your head as possible. 
  4. Take lots of pictures.
  5. Bring hand sanitizer wipes for the ride home.

Pactamere Farm offers overnight experiences as well as goat cheese making classes, cuddle sessions, goat soap felting workshops, group experiences, parties, goat grams, kid goat yoga classes, and more. 15577 Stone Horse Creek Rd., Glen Allen, 804-362-7773, GoatYogaRVa.com


This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue. 

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