Once Is Enough – Goat Yoga Orlando

I do not like goat yoga Orlando.

A goat. On my back. It didn’t actively scratch my skin while the picture was taken.

A goat. On my back. It didn’t actively scratch my skin while the picture was taken.

I may be alone. Everyone I tried it with yesterday seemed to have a blast. Folks were smiling, kids were giggling … I was miserable. I felt like a captive on my mat as if I were being brutally assaulted by a pack of long-nailed angry guards. With horns yet.

So here’s what happened.

I like yoga. I’m obsessed with yoga, actually. I’ve taken classes from San Francisco to Bangkok, and count on this certain brand of exercise – which looks a lot less painful than it is – to keep my body limber, my bones strong and my mood on the calm-for-me side.

Over the past few months, I’ve been hearing about goat yoga. It’s a fad, I’d say. The talk revolved around the joy of being surrounded by adorable little animals paired with my preferred exercise format. You get a double benefit, the chatter promised – stretching plus a feeling of well-being from playing with furry creatures. I was sad when I couldn’t pull off attending a session outside Estes Park, Colorado, during a visit there a few months ago.

Then I learned that Orlando, Florida, has goat yoga now, and that’s where I live. The website for Original Goat Yoga Orlando listed a price of $37, which seemed fair for a 90-minute class that includes the tot-sized cutie-patooties. Off I trotted with an equally eager friend.

What I don’t like about goat yoga Orlando in general

My main dissatisfaction is with goat yoga itself, and makes goat yoga Orlando no different than goat yoga anywhere else, I’d imagine. While a couple dozen of us did exercises on the ground, “on all fours,” which means on our knees with our arms touching the mat, goats climbed on top of us, scooted under us and poked about around us.

Look at the details about how this works. Each yogi is surrounded by goats periodically during the class. At that time, the man on the left sprinkles goat-attraction dust (a goat snack) on you and your mat while the woman takes pictures of you getting mauled – or petting the cute little animals. She posts the pictures on the Dancing Moon Farm website the next day.

Look at the details about how this works. Each yogi is surrounded by goats periodically during the class. At that time, the man on the left sprinkles goat-attraction dust (a goat snack) on you and your mat while the woman takes pictures of you getting mauled – or petting the cute little animals. She posts the pictures on the Dancing Moon Farm website the next day.

It sounds fun to have a little goat on your back, right? Kind of like playing horsey with a toddler, maybe. Only it’s not, for me at least. These beasts are heavy, and their hooves scratched my skin repeatedly. They were relentless. I reacted as if I were being victimized, helpless in a war zone, battered again and again. I wanted to burrow a hole in the earth below me and crawl in for protection.

I finally tried to put a stop what felt like physical abuse. One of the owners walked around during class sprinkling goat food on our bodies with the goal of attracting the animals. I asked the guy to stop sprinkling the lure on me. He did, then returned to sprinkle it again. I asked him again, more firmly. He ceased. He forgot a few more times, but at least after that I was on alert to give him the evil eye before he released another dose. Eventually I was able to enjoy my tree poses and my downward dogs, watching the goats frolic around the gleeful participants around me. If only I didn’t get a whiff of goat poop now and then. I was lucky though: my mat remained unsoiled.

What I didn’t like about goat yoga Orlando in particular

I wish no ill on Dancing Moon Farm, the family-owned estate that runs goat yoga Orlando, apparently in affiliation with a national enterprise called Original Goat Yoga. Again, my fellow goat-flockers seemed quite pleased with the experience. I know my friend is glad she went.

The owners can do better, though. First off, Goat Yoga Orlando isn’t in Orlando. It’s in Sanford, which is a ways north of Orlando. That is in the Orlando metro area, though, and the word Orlando will bring in more people than Sanford, so let’s let that ride. We all need to market.

Does this man have one goat on his back? Oh yes he does.

Does this man have one goat on his back? Oh yes he does.

More disconcerting is that we weren’t greeted warmly. Not at the check-in desk when we arrived, and not at the tented area where the class was held. The owners can fix that easily. Hey, folks, look happy to see each guest. Introduce yourself. Smile. Did you hear? SMILE. Tell newcomers where to go once they sign in.

When they get to the yoga space, make suggestions about where to put their mats. We arrived on the late side and had no idea if it was better to settle in in the center of the circle of mats already there, or outside the tent further from the instructor. Since no one said hi there either, we just took a guess and it worked out fine.

On a side note, I thought the instructor was great. When he made it clear that we were at the farm to do “yoga” – the quotation marks are his – I feared I’d get no exercise at all. He taught loosely, for sure, but those of us know know how to do each pose were able to get a respectable workout.

The class was not 90 minutes. The class was 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of goat-feeding and goat-petting. That’s fine, but say that on the website.

The website oversells. It lists among the amenities a restroom (it’s a port-a-potty kind of thing, and not a pristine one), water and a welcome non-alcoholic drink (I saw neither) and hand-washing stations (ditto; maybe I just didn’t notice any).

I guess I’m coming across as petty. So I was greeted gruffly. So the potty was gross. So the guy kept forgetting I abhorred having goats on me and kept returning with goat-magnet fairy dust. None of that is horrible, and, again, the people around me seemed to be having a splendid time.

Oh wait. He has TWO goats on his back. OW! Maybe he liked it. It seems that most everyone at goat yoga Orlando enjoyed the experience.

Oh wait. He has TWO goats on his back. OW! Maybe he liked it. It seems that most everyone at goat yoga Orlando enjoyed the experience.

I’m writing this so you can know what to expect and make an educated decision before you march right into a trendy experience, as I did, just assuming you’ll have a great time.

I would have been happy to fill out a how-was-it? form, but I was asked to do that while the owner watched near the exit. I certainly wouldn’t write, “Smile at me, and clean your bathroom” as she watched. An online follow-up would have been better. I would not have complained about the malicious goats, since I’m pretty sure I was the only one suffering in misery while others sported smiles as big as the mini goats’ horns.

Once was enough for me. But friends have already started telling me about pig yoga and even alpaca yoga. I am always up for a new adventure. You know I’ll end up at both.

Namaste.