By Abbey Veith
Yogis gathered for the first ever Goat Yoga benefiting the Visit Loudoun Foundation at Middleburg’s Goodstone Inn & Restaurant on Sunday, April 15th. With 200 attendees, the event’s high interest led to an early sell-out and a wait list of 100 people.
Emily Miller, the Reservations and Revenue Manager at Goodstone, holds the dual role of Board Chair for the Visit Loudoun Foundation, whose “mission is to raise scholarship dollars for our local youth who are looking to pursue tourism and hospitality in their future.”
Miller was instrumental in hosting the successful event and was ecstatic to welcome participants to the 265-acre Goodstone property.
She first learned about goat yoga when she was connected with Beth A. Wolfe, an Arlington-based yoga instructor facilitating yoga experiences for both private and group classes. Wolfe has hosted a dozen goat yoga classes “at different venues and various farms. In the cold winter months, we’ve even brought them inside, which has been fun.” Together, Miller and Wolfe planned the details of the event.
“I didn’t invent [Goat Yoga],” said Wolfe, “It started in the Pacific Northwest. And when I heard about it, I thought ‘That’s the best idea ever,’” explains Wolfe.
“Who doesn’t love little baby animals? And goats are so friendly and curious. So I partnered with alocal goat farm and we’ve been doing this for about a year. It’s super popular and it makes people happy.”
Wolfe does not limit herself to goats, and has hosted other classes involving puppies, kittens and even chickens. Though you may expect Wolfe to have a farm upbringing, she actually grew up in an urban area.
“I think that’s one of the reasons it appeals to people in DC,” Wolfe explains. “You go out and take a ride for an hour. You’re in a different world. You’re around animals. You’re in nature. You’re doing yoga. It’s all happy, happy, good stuff.”
Ten goats were brought to Goodstone from the Little Goat Farm at the Lake, located on Lake Manassas in Prince William County. In addition to providing guests with healthy sustainable food and products from their goats, alpacas, llamas, chickens and bees, Little Goat Farm at the Lake also offered a variety of interactive experiences for all ages – including Goat Yoga.
Farm owner, Susanne Marsh, who suffers from osteoporosis, has experienced the healing power that goat yoga can have first hand. “My husband and I would stretch and the goats would come around and climb on us and it was like getting a free back massage,” Susanne shares. “It was all around just very, very therapeutic.”
Later Susanne and her husband hosted an elderly blind woman at their farm to snuggle with their goats. Susanne felt that the experience “was so rewarding. So we decided that it gives a lot of joy to a lot of people.”
Little Goat Farm at the Lake offers both open and private tours. You can even host a birthday party right on the farm! However, Susanne says that the Goat Snuggle is actually the most popular by far.
Susanne says, “it involves the whole family and opens the door from age 6 months to 88 years old. We found that it really includes more people. Just to snuggle and bottle feed a goat.”
The Goat Snuggle is held rain or shine in their baby barn and you can visit their website to request a tour. Goat yoga is held both at offsite locations and at the farm.
“What makes the farm more unique for our Goat Yoga is that our alpacas, llamas, and chickens all want to be a part of it,” explains Susanne. “So you can see them coming through in a line rather than just having goats. It’s the full feel of the farm.”
Goodstone, the Visit Loudoun Foundation, Beth Wolfe and Little Goat Farm on the Lake made a fantastic team. If you are disappointed you missed it, there may still be hope. Miller says, “we look to do many more in the future; it’s very exciting.”ML
To learn about the Visit Loudoun Foundation visit https://www.visitloudoun.org/tourism-industry/programs/visit-loudoun-foundation/.
For more information about Beth A. Wolfe yoga visit her website at http://www.bethawolfe.com/.
To plan your visit to Goodstone Inn and Restaurant visit http://www.goodstone.com/.
To book your visit to Little Goat Farm on the Lake check their calendar at https://littlegoatfarmatthelake.com/.