On Friday March 2, 2018 I stared blankly at an email from Ignite 360’s COO, and my dear friend, Lisa Osborne. The 20 words on the screen forming a sentence completely foreign to me.
It simply read…
I just booked this class on April 1 to attend goat yoga at Wobbly Farm in Snohomish, WA.
What? Was there a typo? A miscommunication (or more likely an April Fool’s joke)? After a few more emails and a call that contained the obvious “Are you serious?” and “No, not a joke. It is real.” conversations - the very first “Do Something Weird With Me” experience series was born.
Experiential learning is a common and greatly encouraged practice amongst our smart and tight-knit group of ensemble members here at Ignite 360. This time, Lisa has taken it up a notch by inviting (read: daring) me to share an experience with her.
And, this experience was next level.
I had absolutely no idea what was about to happen
On May 6 at 6:00 am, donning yoga(ish) attire and loaded with enough coffee to make anything seem possible, I drove from my home in Portland, Oregon to meet up with Lisa and some 4-legged farm friends in Washington.
During the 3-hour Pacific Northwest tree-lined drive, I had time to ponder the upcoming event and dismantle any judgement. Thank you Empathy Training!
While all the components of what we were doing—goats, farms, yoga—were individually familiar, combining these elements seemed… weird.
And then it was magical
After picking up Lisa from her Issaquah home idyllically nestled in a crook of Cougar Mountain Regional Park, we set off for the host of our Goat Yoga experience - Wobbly Ranch.
Driving up to Wobbly Ranch is not unlike visiting any farm in the Pacific Northwest. Lovely, rural, quiet. But the outside of the ranch is akin to a book that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. What lies within this unassuming farm, is what makes it extraordinary.
Upon arrival it was clear that we were not the only event participants unsure of what was to come. Approximately a dozen or so yoga(ish) clad women, men and a few children were tentatively strolling around the rustic entrance gates. What was surprising, was the shared mind-set of excitement, giddy-ness and overall joy to be there.
After checking-in, we all entered a humble white canvas outdoor tent. The hard ground was covered simply with yoga mats, and alive with the movement and sounds of sweet bleating goats.
Proof that storytelling, and goats, are powerful things
Here’s a sentence I never thought I would compose - Goat Yoga experiences are truly on-trend at this moment. From New Hampshire to L.A., everyday people are jumping on the goat yoga bandwagon as much as the goats are jumping on the goat yoga practitioners. However, the story behind the goat yoga experience Lisa and I had – is firmly rooted in authenticity, compassion and altruism.
As we were guided to settle onto our mats, Owner/Director Amanda Leone delivered a beautiful, heartfelt and funny opening speech to inform and inspire us. She openly shared her story of falling unexpectedly in love with a 3-legged goat named Trippy, convincing her husband to buy a farm, and beginning a new life of goat-centric philanthropy where goats—sick or abandoned or otherwise destined for slaughter—are rescued and given a happy farm life of leisure. Oh and she also interjected this heartwarming intro with warnings about possibly being poo-ed and/or pee-ed on by a goat while doing downward dog.
As the morning passed, we sun salutation-ed and warrior posed amongst a collective herd of humans and furry friends. Goats meandered around us mostly curious about discovering dandelions to munch. The yoga stretched our bodies while the goats stretched our minds with the possibilities of injecting old practices with new life.
Goats: The Tie That Binds Us
When our mindful stretching ended, our fascination and love of the farm continued on. T-shirts and other memorabilia were purchased with all proceeds going to help feed and care for the rescued goats. Instagram and Facebook “goat selfie” posts were plentiful (and encouraged to help spread the word about the cause).
Many stayed to chat about the surreal surroundings. This unique experience we shared together formed a connection. A bond.
I get many questions about Goat Yoga – but it can be hard to put into words. I smile and nod knowing how peculiar it must sound to others and, yes, even a little bit “millennial madness”. My Goat Yoga t-shirt garners raised eyebrows and quizzical looks. But, occasionally, it also produces a knowing and shared “I’ve done goat yoga too! Where did you go?” It’s an ice breaker and a touchpoint that draws intrigue and opens up a conversation with people that I might not have otherwise met. It’s also this amazing shared experience that Lisa and I had and can reflect upon, swap stories over and feel good about.
The benefits of Goat Yoga are many. It was a chance to be “in the know” and check out a new trend first-hand. It was a shared ‘weird’ experience with friends and strangers alike. It was a chance to soak up the fresh mountain air and experience the beauty of nature and a conversation starter. It was also something much more. Goat Yoga was a way to connect and build empathy… to contribute to the cause of animal welfare and to learn a lot more about goats then we had known before. That’s really the point. Stretching (pun intended!) out of the usual and getting a little uncomfortable is where we learn, grow and make those infinitely satisfying connections. Now we are on the lookout for our next weird experience. Any suggestions?