No kidding — goat yoga is a thing, with real yoga, real goats, and real fun. People are enjoying the centuries-old practice of yoga combined with modern animal therapy, and a good dose of stress-relieving amusement.

With all the tension people experience these days, Cherry Russell of Oh My Goat says most appreciate the chance to “kid around” in her private, secluded country setting with open spaces and fresh air.

Yoga classes traditionally offer a range of physical challenges while encouraging relaxation. The exercises are peaceful and calming for participants — until they feel the hooves of young goats prancing across their backs, tickling their arms, licking their faces, or lying next to them — at which point they burst into laughter.

A sheep and goat enthusiast, Russell raised meat goats for years. She decided to bring goat yoga to the Upper East Side of Texas after hearing of a therapy class for cancer patients.

Russell now shares her goats with others as animal therapy at the Russells’ 16-acre farm between the small communities of Bois d’Arc and Blackfoot in northern Anderson County.

“My goal is to bring people into nature with the goats,” Russell says. “Our objective is for everyone to have fun.”

Yoga sessions occur in a large grassy pen where each participant takes a place on a yoga mat. When Russell opens the gate, the younger goats run in eagerly — to the visitors’ delight.

Dressed in seasonal costumes, the baby dwarf Nigerian goats are irresistibly cute. Russell offers them treats, encouraging them to interact with participants.

It’s not uncommon for a goat to climb on someone’s back during a downward facing dog pose, which surprises most.

“People say, ‘Oh my gosh, this feels like a massage,’” when they feel a baby goat walking on their backs,” Russell says.

Special themes keep sessions festive. During a Yoga Rita event last fall, Russell dressed the goats in traditional Mexican fabrics and colors.

Yoga instructors teach beginner and advanced classes. They instruct participants to breathe deeply and focus within as they perform stretches, lunges, bends, and other positions that improve posture and strength.

Meditation sessions are another activity some guests enjoy with older goats, who like to cuddle or lay down next to participants.

Russell takes pictures of guests with the goats and offers complimentary photos.

Private parties at Oh My Goat can include birthday celebrations, bachelorette parties, painting or craft classes, beverages, baked goods, or simply time with the goats, for groups from five to 25. An indoor facility is available for smaller groups in inclement weather.

Goat visits are available to adults and children. They include up to an hour of goat time and photos.

Russell supplies the yoga mats — a kind the goats don’t eat — instead of requiring guests to bring their own.

Visitors rave about the experience and service at Oh My Goat.

LeAnn Fremier recommends it with five stars in a Facebook review.

“My daughter and I had such a great time on our first visit that she decided to come back to celebrate her birthday,” Fremier says. “They went out of their way to show the girls a wonderful time at her party.”

Brenda Joy McBride describes her six-year-old daughter’s birthday as “an incredible experience.”

“They are so easy to work with and made everything so easy and fun,” McBride says. “I’ve been to several classes and now a party and we will be back again.”

Monthly public sessions are also available. At $10 per person, the open classes cost less and can accommodate up to 25 participants.

Oh My Goat also delivers animal therapy with goat grams. Goat grams for birthdays or anniversaries include a delivery of flowers or cupcakes and a cuddly visit from a young goat.

After hosting goat yoga events at her farm for two years, Russell now offers mobile goat yoga.

She personally cares for her brood and finds homes for older goats who have outgrown goat yoga. She does not create products from her goats, like milk, cheese, or soap, and does not breed the animals. All the goats are neutered pygmy goats.

For information about events or parties at Oh My Goat, visit www.ohmygoatyoga.com or call (903) 549-2920.

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