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    Bit to Do

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    All photos courtesy of Sunny Acres Farm

    The sun peeks through the slats of barn wood, and manure and cedar fill my nostrils. The only thing between me and a face full of goat turds is a squishy yoga mat, and I’m starting to think the mat has already been compromised. I’m at Sunny Acres Farm, just outside the Gene Snyder and about 30 minutes from downtown Louisville, doing yoga with goats. It’s not supposed to be sanitary. But it’s hard to do a cobra pose when you’re face-to-face with poop. Why would anyone choose to take a down-and-dirty yoga session in a barn? The enthusiastic yet calming yoga teacher helps, but it’s the furry, prancing, adorable goats that keep me here.

    Photo courtesy Sunny Acres Farm

    The barn lies at the end of a gravel road, a welcoming party of turkeys roaming at the entrance. (They’ve tried hosting goat yoga elsewhere, but diapered goats in NuLu? Not ideal.) Inside, a gated circle holds 15 people, seven goats and one sheep. Izzy Nalley leads the class. She has been teaching yoga for 11 years, on top of being a personal trainer, teaching fitness classes at various gyms and doing a bunch of other stuff becoming of a “wellness coach.” She grew up around goats, so she knows what to expect, or, rather, what you can’t expect. “Every class you have to wing it,” she says. “You never know what the goats are going to do.” As I play twister around the three goats on my mat, giggling breaks out. To my right, a goat drools on a woman’s neck while she’s in downward dog, or as Nalley calls it, “downward goat.” Not even five minutes later, a goat named Hershey Ninja straddles a man’s head while he’s in child’s pose. The goats continue to cutely harass the class for the entire 30 minutes. A goat named Teddy Bear poops on everyone’s mat and Hershey Ninja attempts to give Nalley a haircut.

    Photo courtesy Sunny Acres Farm

    Farm manager Samantha Mcnay and her fiance Robert Miles had been thinking about goat yoga last year, when a class in Oregon went viral. “We like to be a little out of the box,” McNay says. They had the goats, but no yogi. Then McNay met Nalley at the Schnitzelburg Community Farmers Market. They did a few classes last year, and have been ramping them up since then. At the time of this writing, they have two classes planned for September and another for October. It’s about fun, not perfect poses. “(First-timers at Sunny Acres) feel capable, and they get to have fun and laugh with it,” Nalley says.

    The goats and sheep have free reign of the place. “Leo the sheep is notorious to come into the house. She comes in and it’s not a big deal because she’s supposed to be a house sheep,” McNay says. The yoga gives them a chance to play. “It gives them a valid excuse to bounce around on people and have a little fun.” All of the goats were bottle fed as kids, making them familiar with humans. “A lot of times people will come in with frowns on their faces, and by the time they leave, they’re smiling, laughing and carrying on,” McNay says.

    As I finish with a last deep breath, the manure no longer registers as disgusting. I take the time to cuddle a few more goats before leaving the circle. My experience was surprisingly peaceful, and I now want a goat for a pet.



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