I planted my hands firmly on the mat and lifted my hips skyward into downward dog. I relaxed into the stretch, exhaled and opened my eyes to discover a tiny, upside down goat staring back at me. Its inquisitive eyes studied me for a moment before it reached forward, licked my cheek and nibbled my hair.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I was having my first experience with Goat Yoga. I’d practiced yoga on and off for five years now but this was my first time practicing on hay or with livestock. So far, I was loving it.
I didn’t know what to expect as I drove down the road toward Lost Peacock Creamery in Olympia. All my previous yoga experience took place in very clean, aromatic and animal-free spaces. I wondered if the goats would poop on my mat, head butt me or eat my yoga pants. As I’d soon find out, the answers to those questions were yes (but just a few tiny nuggets), no (thank goodness) and they tried (but just a nibble). Mostly I wondered, would this be fun or would this be weird?
It was delightfully both.
After navigating by a flock of peacocks, a couple chickens and one very authoritarian turkey, I arrived at Lost Peacock Creamery. I found its owners, Rachael Taylor-Tuller and Matthew Tuller in the midst of a heard of goats. Matthew, the farm’s head cheesemaker, readied the goats for class as Rachael, the chief milkmaid, explained that Lost Peacock Creamery is a grade A goat dairy named for a white peacock that mysteriously turned up one day and decided to make the place home. “We make ridiculously fabulous goat cheese hand-crafted in small batches from the milk of our own goats,” she explained.
At Lost Peacock Creamery, goats are born, raised, become “milkers” and retire, all on the farm. “This is their home,” Rachael shared. “We feel like our milkers made a commitment to give us milk all these years so we make a commitment to them that they can retire and go out to pasture, hang out and live out their old age here.”
Rachael clearly delights in her herd of goats. “Goats are precocious creatures. I mean look at that one,” she laughed gesturing at a goat that high-centered itself on a pile of hay. “They’re just really amazing animals that I feel really fortunate to share my life with. And the fact that they give you this amazing milk that you can turn into cheese and yogurt is the coolest thing.”
In addition to giving delicious and nutritious milk, goats can also benefit human health by lending a certain special something to the practice of yoga. Matthew has been practicing yoga for over 18 years and meditates daily. “This is just a huge part of who he is,” Rachael said. She recalled him practicing yoga with the goats from the beginning. “I was like, ‘What is this man doing?’” she laughed.
So it was a natural progression when the couple decided to supplement their farm’s offerings with Goat Yoga. “If we could share this with the community, raise awareness of what our farm is doing, how amazing these creatures are and bring a little joy to people’s lives – why not?” Rachael said. “It’s a no brainer.”
The Goat Yoga class was held on a bed of fresh hay beneath a rain covering with an open view of the farm’s sloping acreage and forest. Matthew led the class which was enthusiastically attended by several humans and a dozen or so baby goats and their mothers.
The first thing I learned is that baby goats have no personal boundaries. The second thing I learned is that I love baby goats. They wiggle their soft, round-bellied little bodies into every open space and explore everything with their heads, hooves and, most of all, mouths. They are the embodiment of play.
Throughout class I was licked, nibbled and mildly munched in almost every place possible. At one point, a goat made off with my shoe. One little white goat curled up in a sunny spot beside my mat where she remained, content, for the remainder of the session. Another one kept attempting to claim my mat for herself. In the end we decided to share.
As I stretched into child’s pose, a goat nuzzled at my ear while another propped her front legs up on my back for a better view of the proceedings. One baby goat climbed onto a nearby participant and stood with all four feet atop her back like the king of the mountain. The participant, Andrea, said it was the best yoga stretch she’d had yet.
As the class progressed, I noticed something else happening.
Normally when I practice yoga, I find myself in a constant battle to keep my attention focused and my mind present. It’s forever wandering off to some memory, chewing over a list of future to-dos or chasing some random thought. But here, that wasn’t happening. The goats were actively combating my monkey mind. Every time it would wander, a little nibble on the leg or lick on the ear would bring me back. Goats may be the key to enlightenment. Who knew?
Lost Peacock Creamery has plans for future Goat Yoga classes and I’d definitely recommend signing up. In addition, they are also planning to offer cheese making classes and a summer camp, among other offerings. According to Rachael, the goal is, “to empower people to take charge of their food source in some way shape or form. We really believe small farms can save the world.” She went on to explain that the naturally biodiverse nature of small farms inspires people to be more ecologically conscious and make more environmentally sound choices, like not spraying chemicals or choosing to have a garden instead of a lawn.
Lost Peacock Creamery uses wind and water power. They also utilize sustainable practices like feeding their goats and pigs spent grain from Top Rung Brewery and using the leftover whey from their cheese making to feed their pigs.
“It’s a very closed loop system,” Rachael said. “We feel like if we take care of the land, the land takes care of the goats and the goats take care of us.”