Goat Yoga in Chicago? Yes, It's a Thing!
Don't be surprised if you hear bleats and whinnies in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Here, yogi and holistic health provider Beatrice Scescke has created her own urban mini-farm. She's spent the last six years transforming the vacant lots next to her home into an urban farm dream-scape, complete with produce and farm animals including a pony, chickens, and goats.
This summer, the goats became the star of the show when she began teaching goat yoga classes. We know goat yoga in Chicago seems impossible, so we asked her a few questions to find out how she's made it one of the most popular experiences of the summer on Dabble.
What sparked your passion for yoga?
I started taking yoga at the local YMCA with my mom when I was an angsty teenager. It helped me to be less confrontational, so I started to really appreciate somatic therapies.
How long have you had goats? Where did they come from? Basically, tell us everything about your goats.
My mom gave me Franco after she bought him from a farm in western Illinois. He was just a baby. That was 7 years ago. All the baby goats we have were born just this year. Fortune Roses and Cricket are 2-month-old Nigerian Dwarf doelings. I got their mother Phea from a farm near Volo. The two bucklings (yep, like ducklings but goats!) are from a farm in southern Illinois that didn’t want to sell them for meat but were having trouble placing them with a good home, so they called me. Alien is a La Mancha and Romeo is a Nubian.
Why goats? What characteristics do they bring to yoga (besides their adorableness!)?
Goats are agile, flexible, and naturally good balancers. These physical characteristics are things we try to embody in our yoga practice. Their playfulness encourages people to relax, loosen up, and open up to each other and new experiences.
What is your favorite part of teaching goat yoga classes?
I like having fun with my co-teacher and watching people give themselves an opportunity to interact with the natural world and potentially step out of their comfort zone.
What inspired you to create the urban mini farm six years ago?
I grew up in Chicago and love this city so much, but whenever I was home, I always felt starved for more plants and animals. I wanted to create a place where I could have the best of both worlds.
What was that process like? What were some of your challenges?
The process has been slow and requires a lot of work. The greatest challenge is probably dealing with contaminants in the soil. In spite of all our vigilant trash pick-up and bioremediation, I don’t think we’ll ever eliminate the problem completely. It’s a continuous and dynamic process.
How has the farm evolved?
Fortunately, all these dreamy trees were here to begin with. But, other than that, it was literally an unfenced vacant lot full of trash. The soil had very little organic material, and you could hardly grow anything. Now we’re integrating more and more native plants, have a thriving produce garden, and we’re starting a small orchard.
How has it shaped the neighborhood?
The neighborhood has been very interested and supportive. Not just children, but many adults are fascinated and really want to touch the animals. I’m grateful to be a part of that and to have this way of connecting with my community.
What made you decide to share your passion via Dabble?
One of my neighbors was teaching a knife throwing class a couple of years ago and suggested Dabble as a platform for opening the farm up to the broader Chicago community.
How has Dabble changed your business?
Dabble is how people find us. Really, we wouldn’t have done this without the support of this platform.
What are your plans for goat yoga and the farm in the next few years?
I am interested in doing more animal-assisted therapy at my holistic health clinic in Pilsen. When we are inside, there is less attention on the environment and more opportunity to focus on the interaction with the animals. When it gets colder, I am looking forward to hosting more and more classes inside where the intimate space allows for more inward turning.