This story was originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Amber Harrison had few expectations when she laid down her yoga mat at the Palmer Fairgrounds last year. She came all the way to the Matsu Valley to try something she had seen only seen on the internet: goat yoga.
“I kind of thought, ‘oh that’s silly, is that even really yoga?’” Harrison said. “I pretty much only went to the fair to see that and what it was all about.”
Harrison, the owner of the Yoga Yurt, introduced goat yoga to the peninsula. Her first goat yoga session was this weekend.
After her goat yoga experience at the fair, Harrison posted a photo to the Yoga Yurt’s Facebook page asking if anyone would be willing to rent their goats for a session. Liberty Alaskan Goat Farms, a hobby farm off of K-Beach Road, offered to supply Harrison’s class with some baby dwarf goats and a place to practice.
The sessions took place outside, in the backyard of Liberty Alaskan Goat Farm. Jennifer Enersen of Liberty Alaskan Goat Farm had a few of her Nigerian dwarf goats, and Barbra Wills of White Gold Farm provided a group of her Alpine/Nubian breed goats to entertain the yoga class.
“I had heard about [goat yoga] a few years ago,” Enersen said. “I always thought it would be so fun to do. I kind of joked with my husband about it. Eventually, I would love to get into therapy with goats. I’m a nurse by trade and a farmer on the weekend.”
Harrison said the main goal with goat yoga is just to have fun.
“The unpredictability of the animals is just entertaining,” Harrison said. “They have minds of their own. Sometimes they’ll just be nibbling on your hair, or sit by you or stare at you. Or they’ll be in a corner doing their own thing. There are even people who came that just sat and pet the goats. So it’s kind of also a petting zoo. … They’re adorable. Who doesn’t want to be around tiny adorable farm animals?”
LaRae Paxton attended the first session at noon. She said she watched numerous Youtube videos to prepare herself. It was her first time, and she said “it was great fun,” despite being the only person in the class who had her mat urinated on.
Katrina Cannava brought her two children, Parker and Anna, to try goat yoga for the first time.
“We loved it,” Cannava said. “We have an uncle who had done it before, so we were super excited to try it. It was great for the kids.”
The Yoga Yurt, which celebrates their second anniversary this week, offers a wide range of yoga classes and workshops. In the summer, Harrison does free yoga in the Soldotna Creek Park at 6 p.m. on Fridays and paddleboard yoga on local lakes in the summer and pools in the winter.
“I try to do more traditional structured yoga, of course,” Harrison said. “That’s the foundation of our studio. I think sometimes we get in our heads about what yoga is supposed to be.”
Harrison said their aerial fitness class, which uses hanging silks, is among her most popular courses.
“It’s really fun and people get intimidated because they think like, Cirque du Soleil. We do stuff like that, but most of it is more yogic,” Harrison said.
The yurt can fit around 27 people and features a ceiling window that allows natural light to pour into the space. Harrison said she plans on more goat yoga classes in the future.
The Yoga Yurt is located on East Poppy Lane, off K-Beach Road.