A little riddle: What do baby goats frolicking around, people trying to hold their double-plank yoga positions and raising money for breast-cancer research and medical bills have to do with each other?
I’d be confused too if I hadn’t witnessed all of these activities co-existing on a summer afternoon at a 14-acre farm in Clearfield. Alisa Boulter kicked off the second season of goat yoga, a form of animal-assisted therapy. This unusual but trending experience is gaining popularity across the country and in Utah, with a hug for everyone attending.
This engaging and empathetic woman who started goat yoga on her property heard about the craze from family members and decided to give it a go. She wants to change peoples’ lives for the better, and she saw how it brings people, goats and charity together, all the while having an amazing time.
“I heard about it starting in Oregon and thought, ‘Why can’t we have fun in Utah doing this?’” Boulter questioned. And she had the passion, place and animals to do it. “It was going gangbusters and we had the farm and the goats.”
Boulter explains why goats and yoga go together. “Goats are different than any other animal I have lived with. They are very smart. They are very intuitive. They have their very own distinct personalities. They have been used in animal therapy all over the United States. But animal therapy is not the same as service animals.
Because of their inquisitive and smart nature, many people find it very easy to connect with goats. They can be incredibly social animals.
The goats used for Goat Yoga Utah range in age from five months to 18 months and are from breeds that stay small and are friendly.
The eleven people, including three young children, all said they enjoyed themselves. How could you not with the kids (young goats) jumping on their backs, exercising and feeling a true bond?
Boulter decided to launch the 2018 goat yoga season to help and honor a young breast-cancer fighter, Katie Russell, 36, of Saratoga Springs, who, with her beautiful, bald head from chemotherapy is finding solace in goat yoga. So are several friends who have battled depression and have had their spirits lifted from this sort of wacky sounding therapy. But is it that goofy?
Not to the people who participated and donated to Katie’s medical bills. To meet her and feel her energy and uplifting spirit was inspiring to many in the class. It was a terrible day in November of 2017 after she found a lump in her breast and got the diagnosis. “I’m finally getting my energy back,” she says. “Just being around all of these people who care is great and I’m excited being around the goats, too.”
Her close friend, Chantell Edwards, who suffers from depression and even has a hard time getting out of bed some days, was looking forward to the first class this season and watching one of her friends enjoy herself.
“She’s been in such high spirits and was more worried about us, I think, than we were about her,” she beamed.
While the goats can scratch you up a bit, and even get their hooves caught in your hair, they love the human interaction and affection and are enticed by treats.
On this particular day, there was a one-day old baby with its umbilical cord still attached. It snuggled and was held, but the older counterparts did the work, hopping from back to back as instructor Jennie Carlson asked the class to move their mats and engage in different positions.
So, as Jennie enthusiastically asked, “Who’s ready for goat yoga?”
For more information about the class schedule and prices and to help Katie and her family with her medical bills, visit the Facebook page.