No kidding? Goat yoga finally arrives in the Omaha area

Teresa Kalkowski lay facedown on her black yoga mat and clasped her hands behind her back.

One of her instructors, a kid, decided she needed help with her form. So the 2-week-old goat scrambled up Kalkowski’s back. Tinker Bell, the brown goat with black and white markings, balanced between the Omaha woman’s shoulder blades until she shifted out of her yoga pose.

Kalkowski was one of several yogis who found their flow among a tribe of baby goats this past weekend at Honey Creek Creamery. The Friday class was one of several scheduled for this spring by two dairies in Honey Creek, Iowa — about 30 minutes northeast of Omaha.

Practicing yoga while surrounded by goats started in Oregon in 2016 and has since swept most the country. The closest it had come to the Omaha area until now was Scottsbluff, Nebraska, last summer.

Sharon Oamek, owner of Honey Creek Creamery, has practiced yoga for 20 years. At the encouragement of some friends, Oamek thought spring would be the perfect time to introduce the baby goats to more people through yoga.

“We always have a lot of people interested in seeing the babies,” Oamek said. “What a great combination of things to do together to make people feel good.”

Yoga is known for improving physical fitness and flexibility. It also helps increase concentration and decrease stress. The wandering goats add some levity.

These classes offer beginner-friendly yoga. Yogis tackle poses including downward facing dog and the bridge, as well as general stretching. Most poses keep participants seated or lying down to let them interact with goats. All can be modified to meet the yogi’s skill level.

Kalkowski is a regular yogi and thought the addition of baby goats would offer plenty of laughs. It did — especially when her soft gray sweater seemed to keep drawing Tinker Bell over.

The barn echoed with bleating of the goats and the occasional clank of a goat tipping over a water bottle. The curious critters wandered the barn offering smooches, sniffing socks and nibbling on winter coats. The sessions are planned for outside, but unseasonably cold weather and some snow pushed last weekend’s classes indoors.

Oamek partnered with five local yoga instructors for the sessions. The 22 classes, capped at 20 participants each, sold out within two weeks, Oamek said. Traci DeLand, a yoga instructor at the Charles E. Lakin YMCA in Council Bluffs, led the first class.

“Yoga is almost going to be secondary tonight,” DeLand said. “We’re here to have a good time.”

During the recent Honey Creek Creamery class, five kids zipped in between participants and their yoga mats, clacking their hooves on the barn’s concrete floor. A few older, more rambunctious babies hopped over hay bales, temporarily escaping the yoga scene. Oamek has since put up fencing so they stay put.

Guests squealed and cooed in delight at the babies, some with bows and ties around their necks. During the hourlong session, yogis whipped out cellphones and snapped photos with the goats.

Ilona Holland, who will lead some classes at Honey Creek Creamery, practiced goat yoga in Maryland well before it became a trend. About seven years ago, Holland and other yogis held a session in an area where goats roamed.

“They’re just so playful,” Holland said. “They take you away from the mundane thoughts and the vicious cycle of worry and stress.”

Nearby in Honey Creek, Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy also is hosting classes. The majority of their special guests are lambs.

Classes should have about six lambs and two goats — and 20 humans. Spots are still available for owner Janna Feldman’s April classes, which are led by instructors from Simplicity Wellness, Yoga and More.

Lambs are similar in personality to goats, Feldman said.

“You see little baby goats jumping around, and lambs do the same thing,” she said. “They’ll be standing there and just spring up for no reason. … They’re going to be curious enough.”

Baby goats weigh about 10 pounds. The curious kids nibble on things around them as a way to explore their surroundings. While they might by tempted to chomp a yoga mat or ponytail, it won’t do much damage; they don’t have top teeth in the front of their mouths. Oh, and those hooves aren’t as tough as you might expect.

“They’re so silly that you don’t take life so seriously,” Oamek said. “You can still have your peaceful time, but if you want to reach out and snuggle up with a little baby goat, it really is rewarding.”

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