'Goat Yoga' class benefits farm helping veterans

BUCHANAN, Va. - A new trend making its way across the nation has arrived in Southwest Virginia, bringing yoga classes to the farm.

New Freedom Farm hosted a 'goat yoga' class Sunday as a fundraiser for its work with veterans.

"To be out here in nature and with animals and to be able to connect with each other, it just feels great," said Jane Pike, who attended the class.

The goats are not the ones doing poses on mats - but as they graze and wander the field, they help the human guests.

"When you add in the goats in it, it just makes it a little bit less intimidating," said Kristen Terra, an occupational therapist. "So maybe a hard pose, or if someone is joining yoga for the first time, it's just more welcoming."

Kristen Terra raises goats at Terra Bella Ranch. Adding goats to yoga can make the exercise even more relaxing, she said.

"We're on our TVs, we're on our computers, we're on our smartphones all the time," Terra said. "And so it's really a reason in a way to get people out back to nature, back to being with animals."

"Within 20 minutes, I think they sold out all of the tickets," said Lois Fritz, founder of New Freedom Farm.

More than 50 people turned out for Sunday's yoga lesson with goats, Fritz said. Proceeds went toward New Freedom Farm, whose horses provide therapy to veterans struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder.

"It's very important to me as a veteran to help other veterans heal with PTSD," Fritz said. "And unfortunately, 22 veterans in our country a day commit suicide. So if we raise awareness for suicide prevention and let them know that there's a safe place to come, they're always welcome." 

Sunday's class raised at least $1,100 for New Freedom Farm, Fritz said.

Organizers already have waitlists for the next two classes at the farm, Fritz said. The farm is hoping to host 'goat yoga' classes once a month, she added.


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