Yoga With Goats

This morning’s paper had yet another article extolling the virtues of yoga and meditation. I’m one of the many who have recently started going to a yoga class, but I’m not there because of what is in the news. I go because my physical therapist gave up on me and said, “go do yoga.” I need the slow stretching. I don’t enjoy it. I’d rather not do it. But, that’s probably why my body is tied up in knots. If I liked stretching, I’d have taken better care of my muscles for the last 30 years. Anyway, the gentle exercise does seem to make me feel less achy. I have a tad more freedom of movement. I’m not yet a convert, but I’m giving the yoga class a chance. What I truly can’t abide, though, is the fifteen minutes of quiet meditation at the end of the session. It makes me tense.

I would much rather mediate with my goats. Taking them out to graze does for me what I imagine all of that chanting does for true yoga types: it calms me. It centers me. It quiets my mind.

See how peaceful it is?

I stare off into the woods in a state of blissful calm.

The goats don’t necessarily share my mindset, but I breathe calmly nonetheless.

The goats lead me over to the mint and lavender for some aromatherapy. As they chew, the scent wafts up on the breeze. Pip suggests that roses would be healing, but I do some strength training instead.

I also get in stretching.

The boys show me their “downward goat” position.

Pip is in a state of bliss that I try to emulate.

But he’s a yoga master. I’m just a beginner.


  1. I couldn’t agree more! There is nothing I enjoy more than just hanging out with my animals. It looks like the boys truly enjoy their outings with you!

  2. Namaste!
    I need to get out there, too.
    And now you remind me, I appreciate that chicken and goat yoga are totally legit.
    Spare me the chants and _visualize this_ moments in some yoga studios.
    I can get to my happy place, out by the barn, thank-you-very-much!

  3. Me too nothing is as relaxing to me than being with my animals. Just lobe sitting out with the chickens watching them do chicken stuff, and walking my dogs in the woods, although this time of year it isnt quite so calming, the hunters are in the woods. They make me very nervous. Something about grown men walking around with rifles scares me. Yesterdaymy great dane went running past me with some deer body part in her mouth, and what my st. bernard found is too disgusting to talk about, lets just say it was something most of us do in our bathrooms.

  4. Terry have you tried massage therapy? If you get massage regularly it will help. If your ever in the Albany NY area you should let me know and I’ll let you know where my Spa is and you can come for a massage on me, we will just consider it payment for all of the generous help and information I have gotten from you regarding chickens.

  5. I agree too! For me it is taking the hens out that does it! Or even walking down to feed the cow a handful of something that makes her happy!

  6. amen, terry. amen. nice to hear others feel the same way about yoga. and goats.

  7. Terry, I agree with you about meditation. Hate it! The yoga studio we go to doesn’t do it, luckily. We get a 10 minute period where you just lie flat and relax after all the yoga. My partner always falls asleep then…ans snores…loudly. :)
    I also have one of those RespErate Blood Pressure Reducing devices, which also requires meditation of a sort. Ugh…so hard! Got a rain event here in L.A. through Sunday. Things are starting to green up fast. Except for those 5 or 6 trees that lose their leaves in the winter.

  8. I loved this – yoga with goats sounds like a good way to destress.
    Although for many years I did do yoga and sort of got into the meditation bit… I always imagined my favourite view from a holiday and pretended I was gazing out to the rocky island we could see off the coast. Well it sort of works.
    Have you tried Tai Chi? I found it much more relaxing than yoga, but much more difficult to learn – you have to be up for a challenge and find a teacher you really like to work with. The warm up excercises, Chi Kung, however are easy to learn and very good for relaxing the shoulders and loosening up. The excercises have nice names too – and are based on animal movements; ask your goats, they’ll help!

  9. enjoy seeing the goats on “leashes”. when I was a child, 65 years ago, we frequently staked the goats out by the irrigation ditch to clean up the weeds. was my job to bring home in evening for milking and they ran – much faster than I could- and I had perpetually bleeding and scabby knees. In additon to being milked they got a pan of oats and were in a hurry. Never dawned on me that if I just let go they would head to their milking stand. I frequently hung out with them. Loved to fondle their “bibblebobbles” – as an adult I found out they are really called wattles. Like bibblebobbles better. Not all goats have them and I can’t see them on your boys. One time I sat in their manger and enjoyed their company -did not notice they were chewing on my pigtail – lost the bottom couple inches of one. Love your site and blogs as it brings back many memories to this old “farmer”.

  10. The idea of fifteen minutes of quiet relaxation making someone tense put a smile on my face, but then I thought about it- fifteen minutes is a pretty long time! Is it literally in silence? I can’t imagine a roomful of adults being kept silent for fifteen minutes!

  11. I have to agree with Judy- hunting season doesn’t sound like a fun time to wander in the woods. Hope everybody’s wearing orange!

  12. LOL – who is taking who for a “relaxing” walk? I laugh, but quite frankly my dogs aren’t much better on a lead.

    It looks like your chicken yard does not have a roof covering. Is that right? I need to make a change and have to figure out a safe chicken yard, but putting on a roof over the area seems daunting (and expensive!). How high does a chicken fence need to be to prevent fly overs?

    • Adult hens don’t fly up much but bantams can. I have hawk netting over the run to protect from aerial predators. I like the fencing to be tall enough that I can stand up in the run.

  13. I can recommend having a tiny Thai lady walk up and down your back as I experienced today. The headache I have had for three weeks disappeared instantly. It was borderline agony at times and she just giggled merrily when I hinted it was hurting a bit, and said ‘good for you!’. I found yoga extremely helpful for my back but hated the ‘omm’ing that went on – my physio mum tells me that regular yoga-ing pretty much guards against development of osteo-arthritis so it’s worth sticking at it. Can’t you flee before the end bit?

  14. Sorry to hear you’re achy and tied up in knots. Yoga probably really sucks for you right now, but if you keep at it, and be gentle with yourself, it should help. The meditation at the end, though… I never could get into it either. Wish I had an answer for that one.

  15. Well like I said, if you ever find your self in Albany, I’m easy to find, just ask someone where the Spa is with the massage therapist / hairstylist who has chickens

  16. I vote for goats. Especially downward goat. I am really surprised that all the work you do caring for the animals and your garden leaves you needing yoga.

  17. It looks like fun was had by all. Keep up with the yoga. You’ll notice more flexibility in your muscles and less tension. It is very beneficial. Since there are many types of yoga, you may consider another type that offer less meditation and more stretching.

  18. Look at that snow! The hens are watching over their queen today as she sleeps in her blue dish pan. I just love these animals! They are so cute and funny.

  19. Different yoga teachers are different. Really! I like a teacher who will walk a beginner through the meditation and be approachable for suggestions and help, if you find it stressful! Ditto any pose and physical limits/fears!

    I like Ren at Concord Rec, Wed mornings. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and thinks laughter is relaxing and makes you breathe…so if you fall over during a pose, and you laugh, she does, too.

    Try rolling your eyes back in our head during meditation, and focusing hard on that or on your breathing, *hard*. That is how some teach self hypnosis, which is super relaxing. “going to a comfortable place” is another way, and focusing on your woods might do it, too…lots of choices and modifications are available!

    I was taught that the reason the original yogi masters developed all the poses and stretches was to get their bodies into a state such that they could then meditate for hours. I have to wonder why. But all of it in moderation, though, I find extrememly helpful. All the therapists I know of (mental and physical) advocate yoga…

  20. Terry – well, I feel just like you do about the meditation. I am happier outside than anywhere else, and feel closer to the Universe, God, whatever, when I am. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, it’s whatever works for you. I liked doing Yoga as it really gave me more flexibility than I had, and I can tell now, when working out, that my arms, wrists and ankles are the parts that have suffered the most from not doing Yoga. (All those downward dogs really did help!) Might be time to start doing it again. Regular massage is the bomb, too, with the right person. I love deep tissue, the deeper the better, but not everyone can take it that deeply. I am a massage therapist, too, and I ask each and every client to please tell me if it hurts, if they don’t like it, if they’re uncomfortable in any way, especially when they are face down and I can’t see them grimace! SO – don’t be afraid to tell a therapist what you like and don’t like – you’re paying for it!

  21. I just love your boys!!! I think that we all need to interpret meditation. I know I enjoy the solitude and quiet when I sit out on my deck and listen to the birds. I love the comfort I feel when I watch my (4) hens! I have parrots inside that I love to listen to when they sing in the morning. It’s so important to recognize the things that calm you down. If everyone took a good look it would be the simple side of nature.

  22. To me it seems that animals (mostly all of them) have calming qualities. Those goaties are too precious–I can hardly wait to see their holiday finery!!

  23. Sooo funny. And yet true, at least for you! I went to Serenity Yoga in Bedford at least twice a week while living in your ‘neck of the woods,’ so to speak. And even though I’m in CA now, supposedly yoga heaven, the yoga teachers and classes were the best I’ve ever experienced at Serenity. Wherever you go, I hope you stick with it. It’s made a huge difference in my life (one of my teachers told me that doing 3 sun salutations a day changed her life – I thought that was hyperbole, but now I’m beginning to agree…). In the meantime, enjoy the serenity of the goats – you have something there!

  24. Not all yoga includes the chanting….and usually it is only a few minutes of downtime at the end to allow all your muscles to relax. Maybe another yoga class? Do you have some choices in your neck of the woods? Yoga, my chickens and the garden are what keep my body and mind in check. Life is crazy with a full time stressful job and two teenage girls. Two or three hours a week of yoga keeps me sane.

  25. I love Downward Facing Goat. Wonder why the Indian yogis never included that one. I too find the silent meditation thing — after yoga, or anytime — increasingly impossible as I get older. I did yoga for several years in the early ’80’s and really enjoyed it. But even then, in my early 30’s, I finally got impatient with all the stillness. I moved on to Chi Kung/Qigong, which I adored. And I find that in my 60’s, I am more impatient than ever.

    Before I had chickens, I did my quiet meditational moments in the garden. To myself I called The Wanders. To anyone watching, it would have looked like a woman walking around the yard, stopping and staring at apparently nothing for long periods of time, then moving on to stare at nothing somewhere else. I alway loved watching birds, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when I discovered I loved having, and watching chickens.

    After thinking about your post, I believe it is the movement you get watching animals, over and above the inner pondering of looking at plants, that is so restful and centering. I doubt I will ever live somewhere with space for goats or other large herbivores, so my girlies will have to do. Great post!