Let’s be honest: no one is here to sweat. We’re here for the tiny hooves and the bleats. Forget the planks and down dogs, and bring on the baby goats.
In retrospect, it’s astounding we haven’t covered goat yoga yet given how obsessed Santa Cruz is with yoga. There’s laughing yoga, stand-up paddle board yoga, even broga yoga (yoga for the bros). Humble Sea, Mount Madonna and Beer Thirty have all jumped on the goat yoga bandwagon with the help of Aptos’s Kinderwood Farm, which breeds Kinder goats perfect for yoga because of their small size—only about 5-7 pounds as babies.
Goat yoga is a form of animal therapy and emotional support (which doesn’t involve unnecessarily taking them into restaurants). Coupled with the relaxation of gentle yoga, an adorable, cuddly baby goat bouncing around the mat is cathartic. Socialization is also an important step in rearing tame and gentle adult goats, so it’s a win-win for people and goats alike.
“I wanted goats growing up, but my mom said no,” says Kinderwood Farm Owner Lauren Linkemyer. “My husband agreed, since he loves cheese.”
Linkemyer and her husband, Mack Ellis, bought goats around three years ago to start a small-scale dairy farm. With the help of online resources and mentors, they now have their very own Kinder herd.
“We are having trouble producing enough goats for the people that want them,” Linkemyer says. “We sold a couple of babies to Rocking Horse Ranch Daycare in Soquel, but there are still people that want to buy them.”
While the couple didn’t start the farm for goat yoga purposes, the idea coincided with the rise of the trend that started in Oregon.
“I didn’t have to go north to do goat yoga. We have baby goats,” Linkemyer says. “We started working with Beer Thirty, and more and more people wanted to have goat yoga events. They are almost all sold out now.”
To be clear, this isn’t hot power yoga, and no one is trying to do a handstand with a goat. Goat yoga is gentle yoga, and Linkemyer puts some grain on each mat to entice the kids to jump all over the yogis. Child’s pose, down dog and plank are some of the preferred poses to accommodate people and goats alike.
“The classes are like 70% goat and 30% yoga, maybe higher on the goat percentage,” Linkemyer says. Each class includes a bottle-feeding session with the baby goats.
Linkemyer has hosted more than 30 classes, both private and public. While they can’t host goat yoga on the farm because of space constraints, Kinderwood has partnered with breweries around town to host events while also getting leftover grain to feed the goats. They bring between seven and 12 goats per class, and classes are usually around 25 people.
On Memorial Day, a few attendees were lucky enough to also get piglets at their baby goat yoga. “They aren’t as cuddly as the goats, but they are hilarious little creatures,” Linkemyer says. “They are huge now, though. My favorite one, Popcorn, is like 45 pounds now, so I don’t think they would be great for yoga.”
After more than two years in the goat yoga game, Linkemyer says one of the best parts of her job—among many perks—is the gratitude and happiness people get from the goats.
“People always talk about how happy it makes them, and how they are in a much better mood and much more joyful,” she says. “I wasn’t really surprised, because I love them. They are just fantastic.”
As summer winds down, Kinderwood Farm is taking a break from goat yoga to train their new puppies and build puppy-goat relationships. They expect to resume classes in September. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she says. “And I’m so glad other people can appreciate the goats, too.”