When Molly Blanchard Dearstine, co-owner of Emma’s Daisyhill Farm in western Howard County, and Janice Ingson, yoga instructor, launched Yoga With Goats - Maryland in April 2017 the first class sold out within three hours, the second class sold out in 45 minutes and today, they have a waiting list full of people from all over the country.
It’s hard to imagine that only a few short months prior to that, neither one of them had ever even heard of such a thing.
“Another yoga instructor I knew had mentioned it to me and so immediately I looked it up and I was intrigued,” Molly said. “I did some research and mentioned it to Janice, she thought it was a joke!
But together they had the resources to make it happen, Janice had been practicing and teaching yoga for over 16 years, Molly had the farm space and the goats to back it up.
“Janice came over and saw the baby goats and how much fun they are, just pure bundles of joy,” Molly said. “And she said omigod we need to do this!”
And that’s when both women decided to transform an idea that started as a joke, into a legitimate business. A whole new breed, this Vinyasa class connects novice, intermediate and expert practitioners alike by two mutual loves, animals and yoga. Janice does most of the teaching but on occasion she also brings guest instructors on board, her sister Sue does the administrative work, Tom (Molly’s husband and co-owner of Emma’s Daisyhill Farm) does the parking, the specifics and the clean-up, while Molly handles the goat introductions and managing people’s expectations.
“They’re animals, they pee, they poop, they jump on things,” said Molly. “And they explore with their mouths, they chew on things. It’s a lot of telling people what they can expect.”
In some cases the goats have even been sensitive to certain movements, certain poses, like the sun salutation scared one of the mama goats, she took her babies and went to the other end of the yard. The group learned quickly that some movements would have to be modified as they went.
And there are also other variables when it comes to goat yoga, the timing of the spring births and the weather are two of their biggest challenges. This year the goats were bred later so that there would be babies in the spring and since the goats grow up so quick by the time they get to be 16 weeks they are basically young adult goats. Which means they aren’t quite as little or cute anymore.
But with every challenge comes a benefit and in addition to spending the day practicing yoga and hanging out with baby goats, Molly says there are a ton of other benefits including just being outside, connected to nature and the earth. Something that in today’s day and age seems somewhat lacking. “There’s no music, it’s all birds, the wind, the animals, getting back to nature, this is a great time of year for this, because spring and summer is all about fun, playfulness, activities and being in touch with the season which resonates with the baby goats. There’s just something about being outside and being with them, being around them.”
PSA: Interested in trying out Goat Yoga for yourself? Get tickets here.