RINGWOOD, N.J. – Tyler Morella of Ringwood believes it is hard to be in a bad mood when his goats are around.
Add those goats to a yoga class, and it is nearly impossible to be down.
“When they are around, you can’t help but smile,” said Morella, watching his four Nigerian dwarf goats weave between a group of roughly 20 people on yoga mats at the New Weis Center for Education, Arts and Recreation in Ringwood Saturday morning.
“It is therapeutic,” he said.
Morella -- who grew up on a farm in Pequannock with goats, horses, donkeys and chickens -- launched Totes Goats, LLC about six months ago with the help of his mother Maureen and father Sal.
In addition to goat yoga, they also offer petting zoos and programs to teach children about raising farm animals.
In warmer weather, yoga classes have been held at Pennings Farm in Warwick, New York. Totes Goats recently created a partnership with Weis to hold classes indoors.
“It is great that we can offer something like this. It is kind of a unique program for us, and I think also for this area,” said Jill Burgy, lead educator at Weis. “It brings a lot of new people in.”
Burgy said she was “sold right away” on the idea, when Morella showed up for a preliminary meeting and brought his goats along.
On Saturday morning, the goats were donning clothes and walking throughout the yoga class, as participants stopped sometimes mid-pose to pet them, feed them small treats or snap photos.
“They are so calming,” said Kristin Broek, the yoga instructor who led the class.
“I love that it brings people to the mat that normally wouldn’t practice yoga,” she said.
The goat yoga classes at Weis last for about an hour, with an additional half-hour for playing with and taking photos with the goats.
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