By Tristan E. M. Leach
A group of excited and chattering students gathered on the Campus Green. With their leggings and yoga mats, the students craned their necks in anticipation as a pen was set up just beyond the Rider rock.
Soon students were allowed to pick their spot and waited for the stars of the day: baby goats.
On Oct. 6, the Student Recreation Center, in collaboration with the Counseling Center, Rider Dining and the Office of Recreation Programs, brought back the beloved activity, Goat Yoga. Sixty spots were offered on a first-come-first-serve basis, and, as anticipated, each spot was quickly filled. The program included two rotations at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., with roughly 45 minutes of yoga and then some extra time to snuggle and take pictures with the goats.
The goats and the yoga were supplied by Eileen Bowden of Namaaaste Goat Yoga. Bowden and her family own Smith’s Corner Farm in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, where the baby goats and their families are cared for.
Namaaaste Goat Yoga is going into its sixth year of operation and Bowden could not be more delighted to continue the journey.
“Sometimes the sessions are very much about yoga and sometimes the sessions are very much about the goats, and that’s OK. Whatever we all need today is what we will do,” said Bowden to the students as the goats were placed into the pen.
Throughout the sessions, Bowden shared facts about the goats and why goat yoga is extremely beneficial for people. Bowden also talked about why the pen was the size it was as goats only observe the 10 feet directly around them.
The 10-foot radius also benefits the people participating as it encourages them to focus on themselves and the goats, nothing else. With midterms approaching, this event was a way to calm the mind and allow students to destress.
Bowden led students through yoga poses that stayed close to the ground to ensure maximum goat interaction but also to make sure the goats weren’t scared.
“As all of our goats are about this big,” Bowden said as she bent down and measured about a foot off the ground. “We’re going to stay on the ground for everyone’s benefit.”
This event relieved the stress of both the goats and students, as the goats walked among the students eating and bleating. When it was time for table pose, a yoga exercise that has participants on their hands and knees with a flat back, the baby goats clambered onto the students’ backs.
Excited students like Angelina Messina, a junior cybersecurity major, waited as Bowden placed a bleating baby goat on her back.
“I decided to do goat yoga today to get out and have some fun,” said Messina with a smile.
The sessions were filled with fun just as Messina had hoped, and Bowden smiled as students gleefully held the goats.
As the session came to an end, Bowden asked students to bring their hands to their chests and take a deep breath.
“Namaaaste,” Bowden said with a goat’s bleat and a smile on her face. The students repeated Bowden’s kind sentiment back to her, then held the goats and took pictures with the babies.
Each student left with a smile on their face and peace in their heart.