Students, faculty, and staff got the chance to explore a new form of exercise last Friday with bleating, cuddly baby goats.

UTM’s Student Affairs & Services, Health & Counselling Centre, and the Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre (RAWC) organized four sessions of goat yoga with an hour-long petting zoo right after to wrap up the event.

“The beauty of goat yoga is that it provides an experience where calmness and healing can be found through the engagement with animals and an appreciation of yoga practice,” said Assistant Dean of Student Wellness, Support & Success Andrea Carter.

The 45-minute sessions took place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the field outside Deerfield. Students and staff alike were bundled up in coats as the goats pranced around the fenced in area by the North Field.

Melina Morsch, the goat yogi instructor, led the attendees through yoga stretches in which the goats would hop, cuddle, or lay around the attendees. When Morsch led the group into the downward dog pose goats hopped on the backs of the attendees. In the standing warrior pose goats fitted themselves in between attendees’ legs, facing forward in unison.

The four sessions had a total of 120 people in attendance. On the tail of the midterm season, Carter said her team wanted the UTM community “to engage in an activity that was destressing and fun.”

“The foundation for these events is community wellness, community strength, and connectiveness,” continued Carter. “We think these principles are ones that build resiliency. We also recognize that it is important to have opportunities for fun.”

“Goats are amazing beings. They recognize calmness and appreciate other beings that centre themselves,” continued Carter. “It’s pretty awesome that such a sweet, baby animal can teach us lessons to slow down and take in the moments.”

Morsh owns her private studio in Niagara called Fox Den Goat Yoga. An endeavor that she started as a single mom, her studio has expanded greatly and now includes wine-tasting events every Saturday, birthday parties, and private events, amongst others.

Fox Den Goat Yoga mainly houses Pygmy goats, which weigh about 50 pounds, and range from eight weeks to eight months old.

The baby goats are named after their characteristic traits. At the goat yoga event on campus there was Micky Blue Eyes, Oreo, Frank the Tank (a hefty fellow), Flash, Spanky, and Elfalffa.

“We plan on bringing the team back for additional events because this one was so successful,” said Carter. “The smiles warmed my heart on a cold day!”

The Student Affairs & Services also provide a variety of wellness activities for students on campus, including wellness routes, mindfulness, and outdoor yoga activities. Their next upcoming event is Exam Jam, complete with therapy dogs, games, and destressing activities to prepare for exams.

On the effectiveness of working out with the bleating, adorable baby goats Mark Overton, Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Principal of Student Services, said it was “a great opportunity to say ‘nnnnnaaaamaste.’”

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