(Signs read: Please keep our furry + feathered friends safe! Park on Street)
I walked up the driveway, surrounded by nature and chickens roaming free. After a quick sign-in, I was able to enjoy the sights of the farm for a few minutes before the goat pen was opened and we were allowed to set up our mats. Twenty (or more) women walked into the goat pasture with me and immediately started claiming their spots in the very back. I marched myself up to the front row and laid my mat next to a tree. I'm not at all experienced in yoga, nor is my body (bending in odd ways) something that I prefer anyone to look at. But, this was different. I wanted to embrace the experience and not hide in the back. I wanted a view of nature in front of me, and I wanted to soak in every second of this adventure.
Megan, our instructor, took her place, as the setting sun burst it's rays through the woodlands behind her, and we began.
Barefoot yoga, in nature... *sigh* ... I feel like everyone needs to try this at some point in life. With or without goats. But, seriously, goats just make it so much more fun.
These goats were shy and were not about to jump on your back - like you see at some farms or even on television. At first I wondered if I'd be disappointed by that. But then a mama goat stepped on my toe and I found myself suddenly "cool" with the fact that I wouldn't need to worry about a goat stomping on my spine!
The peacock in the pen to my left displayed it's full tail in a dance of beauty. Chickens settled down for the night. Turkeys clucked and talked together. A mama duck and her fuzzy yellow ducklings entered the pen and walked right next to my mat. The goat farmers systematically, and silently, walked through the yogis and placed corn and hay on and around our mats as the goats followed behind them - weaving their way in and around our arms and feet. Some women found the whole thing entertaining. Megan encouraged everyone to do the movements, yet to also live in the moment. If you had a free hand - pet a goat! If you felt laughter welling up - let out your giggles! At one point I found myself distracted by a few of the women's choices to just take pictures and laugh and watch the goats. I understood it, though, as they were hilarious and they definitely would get right up in your face and on your mat...
With all of the potential distractions, I centered myself and reminded myself why I was there. My body needed stretching, physically. My soul needed nature and adventure, mentally. I needed to breathe and connect to God, spiritually. And I needed just needed to live in the moment. As goats with muddy feet wound around and between my legs, I reached up to the sky and breathed in deeply. Admiring the sky, the trees, and sounds around me in God's creation. The rustle of leaves, the stomping of goats, the breath in my lungs, and the laughter of my classmates. It's was a beautiful and freeing moment.
My body, desperate for good stretching, released. I carry so much stress and tension in my muscles - I'm sure we all do - without even realizing it. I felt the joy and the peace of the Lord as we ended.
I stayed afterwards to hang out with some of the goats. This beast, one of the males, was in the pen next to us. The guys were separated out because they get a little show-boaty and rough. This guy tried to kiss me. He also tried to eat my phone. I called him "hipster goat" and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly jealous of his hair.
After purchasing a few natural products, made of goats milk, and also picking up a natural bug-spray that I'm stoked about, I said my farewells to the farm dog and headed back to my car.
Who knew, that in a pen, surrounded by goats, who pee and poop freely - I would rediscover my happiness? Mud (and poop I'm sure) filled hoof-prints were all over my mat. Mosquitoes had taken advantage of my body. My hair was a wild mess and I smelled like a farm. But as I drove off in the direction of home, all was well with my soul.