Goat yoga is an experience to remember

Photos by Kylie Schepers/The Herald
A young goat walks on Pre-Teen Miss Dubois County Alayna Schnell, 12, of Jasper during the goat yoga event at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Tuesday.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

When people ask me why I choose to be a reporter, one of my go-to answers is that every day at work is different and interesting.

In reality, the cliché isn’t always true. A lot of my days follow the same pattern, covering the same government meetings, writing the same police reports, interviewing the same people over and over again. But some days, I walk into work having no idea what’s going to happen. And every so often, it ends up being unforgettable.

Tuesday morning, I arrived at the office unsure of what I would write about for the day. An hour later, I was on my way to the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds to do yoga with some goats.

This is the second year the 4-H fair is offering goat yoga, hosted by Erin Rauscher of Yes Power Yoga in Huntingburg. For those who have never heard of goat yoga, it’s probably exactly what you think it is: a typical yoga class but with pygmy goats. Usually, the goats just roam while you do different poses, but if you’re lucky, you get to hold one or have one stand on your back.

One of my other favorite aspects of being a reporter is observing and learning about others by letting them have the spotlight. I watch, they do, I scribble in my notebook. But how could I pass up an opportunity to potentially have a baby goat stand on my back?

Chelsea Brewer, Purdue Extension's health and human sciences educator, helps Emma Betz, 16, of Celestine adjust her pose during goat yoga at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Tuesday. Goat yoga was instructed by Erin Rauscher of Huntingburg's Yes Power Yoga. More than 50 people of all ages participated in the event.

For context, I’m not a yoga person. I was probably 18 the last time I took a yoga class. I’m 23 now. But as the crowd of about two dozen participants shuffled into the cattle barn show corral, I went with them.

Rauscher, who lives on a farm with her family, has been teaching yoga in Huntingburg for almost a decade now. She’s attended a few goat yoga classes herself around Indianapolis and had taught one class of her own before. If she’d learned anything from it, she said, it’s that goats are unpredictable.

Yoga is typically meant to be a peaceful experience. If you’ve ever been to a class or watched a tutorial on YouTube, the gentle voice of the instructor is usually accompanied with light, relaxing music. The seriousness of it had always made me a little uncomfortable in the past, because I’m rarely capable of taking myself seriously.

The sound of goat yoga was an amalgamation of industrial fans, screaming goats, constant giggling at said goats and the occasional “moo” from the cattle next door.

“I love this sound,” Rauscher shouted over the goats. “This is what I wake up to every day.”

The yoga routine itself was pretty standard: downward dogs, tree poses, warrior poses and the like. Meanwhile, Chelsea Brewer, Purdue Extension's health and human sciences educator, and some 4-H’ers walked around carrying goats and encouraging them to interact with us.

Rauscher was right. The goats had plans of their own. Most of the time, they were too stubborn to even approach anyone doing yoga. If you were lucky, you managed to cradle one or let one stand on your back before it scampered away. If you were particularly unfortunate (me), a goat would step on your face while you lie on the ground.

About halfway through the session, I had accepted the fact that I wouldn’t get to interact with a goat besides a quick pat on the head. I didn’t care. It was a treat regardless.

Of course, as soon as I gave up, a tiny white and black goat — who I unfortunately did not manage to get the name of but looked similar to another goat named Cookies and Cream — was gently laid on my back. I waited for him or her to immediately jump off, but by some miracle, he or she peacefully laid there for a few seconds.

This is nirvana, I thought.

If you’re a yoga expert such as myself, you’ll know that every class ends with shavasana, or corpse pose, where you lie on your back with your legs stretched out, arms laid out slightly away from your body and palms facing up. It’s meant to relax the muscles and calm the mind. Often, people will use the time to dedicate the session to someone or set a positive intention for the day.

As I laid there, I thought about how my experience in Dubois County so far has been made up of small joys. I’ve probably given it away by now — or at least I usually do, so I’ve been told — I’m not originally from here. I only moved down to Jasper from Indianapolis about eight months ago to work at The Herald as my first post-college job.

Every once in a while, I wonder if I’m in the right place, or if I should move back to be closer to my family, or move to somewhere like New York City and start an entirely new life for myself while I’m still young.

Somehow, it seems like every time I start to doubt myself, I get to experience a day like today. A day I get to meet new people who do incredible things. A day I get to do things myself that I’d never be able to do in a big city, even something simple like petting a goat. And it makes me feel, for now at least, that I’m right where I want to be.




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