On Sunday, about a dozen barefoot yogis were sitting peacefully on their mats inside a rustic barn when the Zen spell was broken by four latecomers clumsily trotting in.
“How can I focus on anything right now?” one student cried, pulling her phone out to capture the excited tail-wagging of the class’s newest occupants: 3-week-old Nigerian dwarf goats named Rizzo, Frenchy, Marty and Sandy, after the Pink Ladies in “Grease.”
The goats, who weigh about 5 pounds each, were at the studio in rural Gilbertsville, NY, to get trained in the art of goat yoga — an absurdly adorable phenomenon whose name tells you pretty much all you need to know: It’s a yoga class with baby goats. The animals are there purely to provide happiness — and a great Instagram shot, especially when they climb on top of giddy yogis mid-pose.
Next week, NY Goat Yoga — as the business run out of Gilbertsville Farmhouse is called — is bringing its goat menagerie to a warehouse space in Bushwick for a series of twice-weekly pop-up classes running from April 17 through June 12. At $40 a class, the price is comparable to a Barry’s Bootcamp session, only a lot cuter.
“Having those goats there, people are smiling and laughing, not inside their heads thinking, ‘Am I doing this right? The person next to me is doing this better,’” says Vanessa Pellegrino, a local yoga instructor who will make the trip downstate to teach at the pop-up.
“You’re just living in the moment and enjoying being present,” Pellegrino says of the ineffable joys of goat yoga.
If you’re looking for a good workout, you won’t get one, class participants say. Most have given up perfecting their Warrior 1 by the end of the class, focusing instead on the every movement of these little creatures.
But what the class lacks in strenuousness, it makes up for in good vibes.
“I’ve done regular yoga before, but I prefer this type of yoga,” says Tyree Dunn, a 21-year-old student from neighboring Oneonta, as he snuggles Sandy and Frenchy, a smile stretched across his face.
Cuddling with participants at the Sunday class was part of the animals’ training — a process that involves little more than acclimating them to humans, with the help of animal crackers strategically placed on the mats. The goats are quick studies, and their handlers gently nudge them away when they occasionally nibble on someone’s hair.
“They want to climb, so if you give them something to climb on, they’ll just do it naturally,” says Sharon Boustani, the founder of NY Goat Yoga, who runs the farm with her husband, Aldo, and daughters Olivia and Victoria.
When the goats are especially happy, they tend to jump excitedly into the air, as if on a trampoline.
‘There aren’t many experiences out there that create such a joyful distraction from whatever people might be going through.’
Boustani, a former Bronx resident, started offering the yoga classes at her barn after getting two Nigerian dwarf goats as a gift from her daughters last Easter. The goats are just pets — along with about 40 chickens, two turkeys, three dogs and a growing number of cats.
Goat yoga first appeared on a farm in Oregon in August 2016: The farm owner, Lainey Morse, had come to see her pet goats as therapy animals, so she held a “goat happy hour” for her friends to spread the love. A yoga-teacher pal suggested adding yoga, and Morse agreed. It was the start of a viral sensation.
“There aren’t many experiences out there that create such a joyful distraction from whatever people might be going through,” Morse tells The Post. “It’s really my take on animal-assisted therapy.”
Since then, Morse has counted more than 200 spinoffs of the class in cities all over America. And yet New York City, the most populous city in the country — home to all manner of pointless trends — has gone an embarrassing year-and-a-half without a goat yoga class of its own.
Boustani says this is likely due to the logistical feat of bringing farm animals to the bureaucratic Big Apple. The city’s Department of Health won’t permit the goats to stay the night. Instead, it’s granting daytime permission on a case-by-case basis, considering the classes “exhibitions.”
“This is brand-new,” Boustani says, adding that she’s currently working with the health department to figure out just how free-roaming the goats can be.
There will be two 45-minute classes each Tuesday and Thursday, and the animals will wear diapers to avoid any accidents. Afterward, Boustani and Pellegrino will load up the Pink Ladies and their four elder compatriots into a trailer for the nearly four-hour trip home. She doesn’t think the commute will be an issue — “When they’re tired, they just fall asleep,” she says — but she plans to alternate the goats between classes. Each session will feature two babies and two adults.
“This isn’t a circus,” Boustani says.
The family, which moved to Gilbertsville permanently two years ago from The Bronx, also hosts barn weddings, complete with a compound of “glamping” tents for weekend celebrations.
“You just have to get creative,” says Boustani, who plans to introduce day trips to her farm from Brooklyn for $85 a person, which will include a mimosa brunch.
“It’s just incredible to be part of the best part of a person’s day,” she says at the end of Sunday’s class. “It almost brings me to tears.”
NY Goat Yoga comes to New York City from April 17 through June 12 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at 74 Ingraham St., Bushwick. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.com.
Meet the goats
Marty is the smallest of the bunch. She may seem aloof at first, but once she warms up to you, she never leaves your side.
Sassy Rizzo is the leader of the pack, and first of her class to jump on top of her new yogi friends.
Shy but affectionate Frenchy likes to chew on hair — great for a mid-yoga laugh, less so for your ponytail.
Light blond and gentle, Sandy is the curious one. “We just know she’s going to blossom soon,” says her owner, Sharon Boustani.