When Matthew Hux and Amanda Avery began their goat yoga program, they had no idea how popular it would become. The couple owns Hux Family Farm, a small but charming homestead on the banks of Falls Lake in Durham, where their primary animal capital is Nigerian dwarf goats.
“Last fall, we just reached out to some yoga instructors in the Durham area. We weren’t even going to start classes right away, but they [wanted to] just go ahead and do a class,” said Avery. “So we opened [the class], and then it filled up and had a 200 person waitlist.”
The novel activity has recently gained popularity across the United States. It consists of doing yoga, often outside, while goats mill around. Sometimes, as several attendees at Hux Family Farm have experienced, the goats will jump on top of you.
“I loved it. It was definitely a treat,” said Kemba N’Nandi, a first-time patron of goat yoga. “They kind of helped me focus more on my poses. When they jump on your back, you’re like, oh, is it straight?”
While other farms in the Triangle area have offered yoga with goats in the past, including the Chapel Hill Carriage House and Celebrity Dairy, Hux Family Farm is the only to host it on a regular basis. They offer three to five yoga and meditation classes each weekend.
“We kind of have two groups of people who come, so we started offering some different types of classes,” said Avery. “You have the people who want to come just for the novelty of goats, and they want the goats to jump on them and play on them. When we have a lot of [baby goats] that’s the best time for that. And then you have people who are really coming for the therapy aspects of the yoga and the goats because the goats can be really calming, especially the older ones.”
Hux Family Farm currently has 18 goats, ranging from bucks and does to kids [baby goats], as well as two sheep, two dogs, ducks and geese. Using Nigerian dwarf goats for classes tends to be easier, Avery says, because they are smaller, causing people to feel less intimidated.
“They’re animals, so you never know what they’re going to do,” Avery explained. “Sometimes they settle in and sleep with everyone for the whole class and that’s it, and sometimes they want to play the whole time. They feed off the energy of the people in the class.”
Hux and Avery began offering guided meditation and reading therapy classes with goats to the public in the spring of 2016. They hope to offer a full therapy program soon, in addition to their weekend schedule of meditation and yoga classes. See their schedule of events and classes here, and enjoy the photo gallery from a Saturday class below.
Photos by Aleta Donald.