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Goat Yoga

Is this new trend the greatest agritourism idea ever?

 

Some things are just meant to go together: jeans and boots; movies and popcorn; yoga and goats. That's right, yoga and goats.

While this combination may seem anything but natural, Lainey Morse has turned it into a business that has people all over the world clamoring for reservations on her Oregon farm.

Finding Her Place

Morse has an adventurous spirit that took her from her hometown in Michigan, to Phoenix, to Albany, Oregon. "I saw a picture of Oregon on a calendar and thought it was beautiful. I'd never been, so I bought a ticket and flew into Portland and drove down Interstate 5 and explored the state," she says. Morse moved to Oregon nine months later, and two years ago, bought a small farm in the Willamette Valley, along with a few goats. "I do not have any background in agriculture, but I've always felt more at home in the country,” she says.

She began hosting events at No Regrets Farm, and at a child’s birthday party, struck up a conversation with a parent who was a yoga instructor.  With the fresh air and the scenic view of the mountains, she thought it would be a great spot for a yoga class, and the idea for Goat Yoga was born.

Morse got to work planning the first goat yoga class to see if it would be something people would be interested in. She wondered if people would actually drive to her farm and pay to do yoga while goats strolled through the class. Initially, she charged $10 per person for the 30-minute class. Word quickly spread about this quirky, fun yoga class in the country. Now, Morse charges $30 per session, which includes about three hours on the farm. “I encourage people to get here an hour early to hang out, the class lasts an hour, and we have ‘goat happy hour’ afterwards,” she says. “This is time in the barn taking selfies with the goats and playing with them. People love it!”

The majority of the Goat Yoga students drive 100 miles from Portland to attend. “They are trying to escape the city life,” Morse says. Thanks to press coverage and going viral on social media, Morse’s goat yoga classes now have a waiting list 600 people long, including people from all over the country and from Germany, Italy, Australia, and other far-flung locations.

While class attendees get the physical benefits of yoga, Morse says interacting with the goats adds mental and spiritual benefits to the experience. She has seen the results herself after being diagnosed in 2015 with Sjogren's Syndrome, a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease with symptoms that include debilitating fatigue and joint pain. “If it wasn't for this farm and the goats and Goat Yoga, I would be one miserable person, and I have no doubt that all of them serve as therapy,” Morse says. 

Goat Yoga may be a fun bucket-list item or ladies’ day destination, but it’s also really making a difference for a lot of attendees, Morse says. “I've seen it help so many people. It's not healing diseases but it's helping people's heads. When you get diagnosed with an illness or go through difficulties in life you can get stuck in your own head and start to spiral into a depression,” she says. “This is a happy distraction. It’s really hard to be depressed when there are baby goats jumping around you.”

A New Brand of Agritourism

So what are Morse’s farming neighbors saying about her new business venture? “I think most of them think it’s just a hilarious thought,” she says. “Spending time with animals is so natural for us, and to think that there are hundreds of people from all over the world who are on a wait list just to have the chance to come to my farm and do Goat Yoga is just unbelievable.”

Chances are good that some of the farmers laughing at the idea of Goat Yoga just wish they would’ve thought of it first, but Morse is offering them the chance to join in. She has trademarked the name Goat Yoga, and is establishing franchises. “It would be a new revenue stream for farmers, and all it takes is friendly goats and a yoga instructor. I’m providing marketing kits for them as well which will contain guidelines, marketing ideas, digital downloads, and merchandise to sell,” she says. “It’s really going to be fun.”

Morse has plans to offer Goat Yoga retreats, farm-to-table dinners, farm stays, goat therapy, and visitation programs for schools and charities, and is in the market for another farm because of zoning laws. She’s so serious about the business that she has left her marketing and freelance photography careers behind and is focusing full-time on Goat Yoga. “I have every intention of growing this business to be the first ever goat vacation destination,” she says.

Morse has established websites at and yourdailygoat.net (goat/farm therapy) and goatyoga.net (Goat Yoga), where she will include information about classes and franchises and offer Goat Yoga merchandise. She has also worked with a local yoga apparel company to design Goat Yoga leggings, which are available online

This year has been full of surprises for Morse, with Goat Yoga quickly transforming from a quirky idea into a full-time job and global attention. “It’s just mind-blowing,” she says. “Who knew this could be real life?”

 

Photography: Jesse Clark

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