Participants benefit from the physical therapy of yoga and the ‘mental therapy’ of being with cuddly dwarf goats
MAPLE CREEK, Sask. — Yoga practitioners are familiar with downward dog, but downward goat?
Yoga goat classes are now underway at the Downward Goat in a barn at Grotto Gardens in Maple Creek, Sask. There, people can combine the physical therapy of yoga with the “mental therapy” of being around dwarf goats.
Dana Hassett, who owns and operates the country market with her husband, Dan Sellinger, and their daughters, said goat yoga has become trendy in the United States and British Columbia, so why not Maple Creek?
When she proposed the idea at a Tourism Saskatchewan workshop last fall designed to promote out-of-the-box thinking, everyone loved it, she said.
Their goat walk was a popular attraction. Visitors to Grotto Gardens enjoyed watching the dwarf goats climb on a ramp and platform system for a food treat.
The site also has miniature pot-bellied pigs, miniature donkeys, chickens, a duck pond and a perennial garden.
Hassett said while the animals were mainly for people to see, everyone always wanted to spend time with the playful goats.
“The goats kept them coming back. They were kind of like a therapy for people,” she said.
Today, certified instructors teach regular yoga classes that five Nubian goats also attend. They wander around, climb on participants, nibble at the mats and generally make people happy.
“They just love their people,” Hassett said.
Classes are held Thursday and Sunday mornings throughout the summer. Participants should sign up online when they want to attend so they aren’t disappointed; the barn has room for only 20 people and the goats.
Grotto Garden is located on Sellinger’s family farm and so named because of the stone cairn Dana built to contain the ashes of the couple’s son, Dean. It opened last summer.
It features a Log Barn gift shop, where Hassett sells hand-made birdhouses, and a bakery and coffee shop.
Daughter Silken is the baker and she uses a lot of the fruit from the 10 acres of saskatoons planted in 2011. Chokecherries were added two years ago. People can pick their own berries or buy fruit at the shop.
The finalist for Saskatchewan Tourism rookie of the year recently obtained a liquor licence and added a build-your-own picnic basket service. Hassett is retired from nursing and Sellinger still works in the construction business.
“Three hundred twenty-five thousand people are going by to the Cypress Hills,” Hassett said. “Even though we’re doing better than our business plan projected, there are still days when we’re wondering if we can keep going.”
For more information, or to register for goat yoga, go to grottogardens.ca.