If Lainey Morse, the woman who started the Goat Yoga craze, were to write an autobiography, it should be called “Bleat, Pray, Love.” The unofficial mantra of goat yoga’s fans — who find the experience of practicing yoga while being surrounded and climbed on by baby goats to be therapeutic or even transcendental — could also be an official tagline for Morse’s new immersion experience at The Goatel, the all-inclusive farm stay vacations she’ll be offering in Oregon starting later this summer.
When Morse hosted the very first Goat Yoga class on August 13th, 2016 at No Regrets Farm, her homestead about an hour and a half from Portland, she had no idea that it would become the cultural zeitgeist and fitness trend that it is now. Morse says she was pretty blown away by the response, of immediately hitting a nerve with the 30 or 40 people who showed up to class and who needed “goat therapy” more than anyone knew or could have anticipated.
“I really thought only my friends and family would come to that class, because who would really be into yoga with goats,” Morse told Apartment Therapy by phone. “Well, apparently a lot! Tell people you have a dog or a cat or a horse, they’re not all that excited. But if you tell them you have baby goats, they freak out.”
By bringing a little bit of the country into the city, or drawing city-dwellers out to the country, Morse says she started providing much-needed therapy and happiness through her goat experiences at “a time when the political climate was just negative, and still is, but people see how happy everyone is in the photos with the goats” and just want that same joy in their lives — if only for an hour.
Though it turns out that her own farm wasn’t zoned for hosting Goat Yoga, Morse has spent the last two years partnering with a historic bed & breakfast — the Hanson Country Inn in nearby Corvallis, Oregon — and shuttling her menagerie to and from the property to meet their adoring fans at yoga classes on the property. Now, Morse is set to take over the inn and offer an immersion experience by turning the entire property into a goat-centric health & wellness retreat, complete with its own brand-new barn (made of reclaimed materials from the inn’s 100-year-old barn) and a new cast of resident characters.
The Goatel Retreat Center will be a bed and breakfast and glamping experience where serenity-seekers can have adventures centered around bonding with the resident Nigerian Dwarf and Boer goats — including not just yoga, but Goat Happy Hours where you can cuddle up to the kids and maybe even bottle-feed the baby goats (mostly rescues). Or, as they say on The Goatel Instagram and maybe you can say soon: “We at the hotel, GOATEL, Baa-liday Inn.”
The property includes regular rooms as well as yurts and campsites, plus flat parking nearby for RVs and campers, and can accommodate between 50 to 100 people for parties or events. Guests at The Goatel will be treated to an all-inclusive experience including three meals per day from local organic farms, plus goat yoga on-site on Friday, a trip to a nearby vineyard for goat yoga and wine tasting on Saturday, then back to The Goatel for goat happy hour with tastings and samplings from local craft breweries and other culinary partners. Morse also plans to offer guided hikes to the surrounding mountains of the Willamette Valley and bicycles that guests can borrow to ride into town (less than two miles away) for the restaurants and shopping on the riverfront and surrounding the Oregon State University.
“It’ll mostly be for people to come and relax, get away from their jobs and stress and just disconnect,” she said. “We won’t have a packed itinerary, but we’ll have lots of options in case they don’t want to just sit with the goats.”
As a rescue animal advocate and board member with a regular yoga practice who recently tried goat yoga for the first time — through unofficial goat yoga GOGA in Austin, TX — I can officially say that sitting or doing yoga with goats is definitely a bucket-list must, though. Not only do the goats provide unmatched comedy relief and laugh therapy, but their power as personal trainers should not be underestimated, either. I’ve never felt quite as sore as I was after holding boat pose or plank for minutes on end because an adorable pygmy goat fell asleep in my lap, then her brother stood on my back, and they were “too cute to move.” But don’t just take my word for it: comedian Kevin Hart recently took a class in his new YouTube series, What the Fit — and as ABC News also recently said, “Goat yoga is here to namaste.”
Room rates at the Hanson Country Inn currently run $130 per night, and once its transformation into The Goatel is complete Morse says she will try to keep rates similarly affordable (but adjusted to cover the all-inclusive amenities such as three meals a day versus breakfast only, plus the adventures and experiences).
“I really want it to be accessible,” she said. “The goal is really to have it be a place where everyday people can disconnect and recharge and get their goat therapy on.”
If this sounds like a can’t-miss travel experience to you, The Goatel has just launched a website complete with waiting list prior to its opening “in late Summer 2018.”
Or if you’d rather see if you like hanging with goats first by trying something closer to home, Morse keeps a list of partnering Goat Yoga locations around the country for single-session classes and more daily experiences. Her official Goat Yoga classes include three locations in Oregon (including the original, now at The Goatel), plus partners in Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and three more states coming on board in the next few months (Connecticut, Michigan, and likely California) found at GoatYoga.net.