On Sunday, two local women collaborated to bring the first-ever goat yoga class to the South Cariboo. The event took place at 9 a.m. on July 21, on one of the first particularly warm days of the summer.
Goat yoga was previously rain-checked following an unusually wet July, but Sunday’s event was brightened by plenty of sunshine and happy yoga enthusiasts, too.
Ali Williamson is the co-owner of Maverick Farms, and partnered up with another female entrepreneur, Karen Peterson, owner of Blissed Out Yoga and Fitness, to bring the first event of its kind to 100 Mile House this past weekend.
“This was the first time ever,” said Peterson. “It actually hasn’t even been done in Kamloops. I thought it went amazing, so well. It was just an awesome day. It was beautiful out and the grass was so nice. We haven’t had much sun so I felt like the energy was just so on point. It was super fun.”
The two businesses agreed to split both the expenses and the proceeds from the event, with Peterson choosing to use her portion of the earnings to support another female entrepreneur by purchasing studio supplies locally.
“I approached Karen,” recalls Williamson of the collaboration. “I had been doing some research into different ways that we could expand our business and really spread the message of ethical farming and the crazy abilities that these animals have that nobody seems to think about. They’re worth above and beyond meat for us.”
After a bit of research, Williamson discovered goat yoga. She then approached Peterson, who was “super up for it.” From there, the pair worked to coordinate a time and place and began advertising the event together.
Maverick Farms will use half of their proceeds to support a veterinary fund for an injured foal they saved last year.
“Everything that we do above and beyond our regular stream of business, all our petting zoos and everything like that, all the proceeds are going towards him.”
Williamson is determined to educate others on the unique abilities that animals have to connect with those around them, and hoped to illustrate those abilities during the recent goat yoga class.
She explained that at Maverick Farms, two of their goats have displayed a special ability to help those they interact with. Both of those goats were present for the yoga class in Centennial Park.
“Animals are so therapeutic,” said Peterson, who even let a goat try out some poses of its own on her back during Sunday’s class. “It brings us back to basics, gets us back in touch with our roots and feeling a part of nature and that connection to other living beings. Our whole practice teaches us to try to see ourselves in the eyes of all beings.”
Williamson personally believes that all animals have the innate ability to balance their own energy, which makes them the perfect companion for yoga enthusiasts, arguably.
Animals are extremely balanced in everything they do, she said. At Maverick Farms, her goats Pal and Tula share a particular ability to attune to the feelings of others.
“Goats don’t have the hangups that humans have when it comes to pressures, external pressures, that kind of thing. When they are left to do what their instincts tell them to do, they are 100 per cent balanced. Unless obviously there’s something wrong with them. With Tula and Pal, we find that their presence really helps people balance their [own] energy as well.”
Williamson first noticed her milk goat Tula’s ability on the farm.
“When I would go out and milk her, I’d feel so good afterward and I couldn’t figure out why. I noticed that it wasn’t the same with some of the other ones. I always enjoy what I’m doing, but specifically, with Tula there was just this weird thing. I noticed that a few times she would turn her face and she would put it really close to mine and just breathe and almost breathe with me. I definitely noticed that she was drawn more to me when I was in emotional turmoil or had a headache or something that she felt I needed that little bit of extra attention or her help in some way. A lot of people will say that it’s crazy, but there’s scientific proof now that energy is a real thing.”
Later, Williamson also discovered Pal’s ability when the goat began coming along to Maverick’s petting zoos.
“Pal was extremely drawn to the children that were absolutely terrified. Most of the other goats, when they feel that high energy or that fear, that anxiety, they don’t really want to be in that space.”
The other goats may avoid a situation that could unbalance them, said Williamson, but Pal is different.
“Pal was actually drawn towards those people. He would stand beside the little girl that was sitting on the ground crying. He was so patient and present, and completely content to just be in the moment and sit by her. We found it quite inspiring that he was able to do that.”
This discovery in Pal led Williamson to further research. She was already cognizant of the growing popularity of equine and canine therapy services, but goat therapy isn’t as widespread, she said.
“Their abilities are extremely close to equine and canine therapy. They’re extremely in tune to the energy around them.”
Peterson and Williamson have agreed to schedule another goat yoga class for September, after the success of this first event.
In total, 19 people participated on Sunday, but Peterson said that they can easily accommodate more in future goat yoga classes, by expanding the goat corralling that was used in the park.
“In my experience of having Blissed Out, I’ve never had to turn a single person away,” she added. “I feel like the universe just lines it up so that it always works out. We’re absolutely going to keep it going, for sure.”