Standing in the dewy morning grass at Loganville’s Double Durango Farm, Beau Sellers stretched one arm out in front of him, extending the opposite leg behind him.
“Have the courage to try something new, the flexibility to stick with it and enjoy it, and joy will come,” Sellers said, his calm voice radiating through the enclosed pasture. “That’s anything in this life — you’ll have joy if you just have the courage to try something new and be flexible.”
Yoga mats lined in rows in front of Sellers, about two dozen men, women and children mimicked the instructor’s pose, their laughter intertwined with the crowing of roosters and bleating of goats.
For many of Monday morning’s attendees, the class at Double Durango Farm was that new experience — seasoned yogi or not.
Why? Because this class was different; it was goat yoga.
Joining a craze that has swept the nation over the last year or so, Double Durango owner Dianne Cassara offers her farm, and her goats, for weekly classes, which are taught by Sellers and others and organized by Sellers’ wife, Kristen.
While the classes have been a hit, Cassara didn’t know when she bought her first goat almost 13 years ago that goat yoga would ever be a trend, nor did she ever think she would ever play host to the phenomenon.
“(As recently) as three months ago, I said, ‘I’m not doing goat yoga,” Cassara said, laughing. “People kept saying, ‘Dianne, you’ve got to do it’ and I was like, ‘No. I’m a breeder; I don’t understand the concept.’ But then I got an email (from Kristen Sellers) and I thought, ‘What have I got to lose? If people want to come here and do it, we’ll try it.’”
Just as Cassara did not anticipate her farm being used for goat yoga, Sellers said he did not plan to become a yoga instructor — or that his practice would later include teaching with goats.
“I started doing yoga, but I have a very difficult time hearing, so I did the teacher training because I wanted to learn how to do yoga, but I couldn’t hear it in the class,” Sellers said. “I don’t know if I ever thought I was going to be a yoga instructor, but then me and my wife were going on vacation in Kentucky and she found a place that did (goat yoga) and she was going to surprise me with kind of a family (outing).”
Though the farm in Kentucky was ultimately closed, the concept got Kristen thinking, Sellers said.
“She started looking into finding somewhere around here (to do it) and we couldn’t find anywhere,” Sellers said. “There was one place in Alpharetta but it was just a little too far for us to drive, so (Kristen) said, ‘You are a certified yoga instructor. If I can find a place to do it, would you teach it?’ I was like, ‘Why not? I love crazy things; I’ll do it.’ Somehow she got a hold of Dianne and they just hit it off. They just started running with these ideas and we’ve only been doing it for a few months, but it’s become this big thing.”
First-time goat yogi Samantha Atkins, who brought her daughter and nephew to Monday’s class, said she would “absolutely” do it again.
“It was awesome,” Atkins said. “The goats are very entertaining and were definitely my (favorite part). They draw more people, I think, (though) the yoga was fun too because we’re very athletic, so the stretching really helps.”
It’s not just in Loganville that goat yoga is popular, though.
Earlier this year, Suwanee offered several goat yoga classes at the city’s Town Center Park, which sold out almost immediately.
And across the nation, the practice has taken off.
In Willamette Valley, Ore., in August 2016, farm owner Lainey Morse is credited with initiating the trend, which she told CNN was a spur-of-the-moment idea that formed during a child’s birthday party on the farm.
“(A mother who taught yoga) said, ‘You should really have a yoga class out here,” Morse told CNN. “I said, ‘OK, but the goats have to join in.’”
It didn’t take long for the classes to become a hit — so much so that Eventbrite, an event management and ticketing website, recently decided to look into the practice.
“We actually noticed that the trend has been picking up in the U.S. and found that there have been more than 2,400 goat yoga classes in the last 12 months — compared to just 75 over the 12 months prior,” Irene Lee, a communications specialist for the company, told the Daily Post. “More than 75 percent of these classes sell out and the largest event attracted 200 attendees.”
Those numbers don’t take into account classes like Sellers’ at farms like Cassara’s, which only offer the classes by posting the dates online and registering participants through email.
“To be honest with you, I was really apprehensive when my wife told me about (goat yoga),” Sellers said. “I thought it would be fun, but because I knew yoga and know the intense, serious (side) of the practice, I wasn’t sure if it (would work). But we came out here one day — I’ll never forget — and I was standing in a pose and I was so serious; I had everything just right, my toes were right, my knees were right, and then a goat just jumped on me. I was like, ‘I can’t take this seriously’ and that’s why I love it — it gives people a chance who wouldn’t do yoga to do it, or at least try it.
“I encourage everybody to, because this is not about yoga. We’re doing yoga, but this is about fun.”