There are some great ideas that may not seem obvious at first. Take goats and yoga. Who would have thought those two things would be a great combination to encourage mindfulness and a healthy mindset? Though it may not seem like an obvious recipe for wellness, that is exactly what Cathi Huff of Milton, Georgia, is offering with resoundingly good results at GOGA.
Still need convincing? GOGA (Goat Yoga) has already benefited many people. "This idea has provided happiness to so many people. I love watching my clients experience the wonders of goats and the unconditional love they provide," explains Cathi Huff. Not only has GOGA benefited people in this area of Georgia but has the potential to reach so many more.
Who can benefit from GOGA? Huff says, "Anyone ages 10 and up would benefit. You receive a good yoga workout and being with the goats is a bonus. Also, since we focus on mindfulness...I love reminding our guests to be in the moment and be at peace. My goal for each one of my clients is to leave the farm feeling refreshed and full of gratitude they had the opportunity to spend time on the farm and enjoy yoga and being in nature."
Encouraging mindfulness is one of the key elements of GOGA that benefits of people of all ages and life situations. "We do a mindfulness series with women and young women ages 10-14. We focus on being in the moment with the goats and enjoying yoga on the farm. I've had many therapists hold sessions here with their clients. I've had a hospital interested in bringing clients to the farm. We've had cancer patients and special needs children enjoy GOGA. I've had so many testimonials from people of how being on the farm brought them a sense of peace and the animals provided unconditional love and joy. Without a doubt, animals provide therapy!"
Cathi, originally from Omaha, Nebraska, moved to Georgia 14 years ago. After raising two children, both of whom are now in college, she and her husband bought a farm. Though Huff had not had any experience with animals, the farm was the culmination of a lifelong love of animals for Huff. "I have always loved animals," explains Huff. When I turned 12 years old, I begged my father for a St. Bernard dog. That was a special birthday as 'Moose' was the best gift ever. I had always dreamed of owning a horse. I knew that would never happen during my childhood but hoped some day I would be lucky enough to own one."
A horse was not part of Huff's childhood, but, at age 50, she accomplished two goals: she completed her first triathlon and bought a retired racehorse, Bronx who raced under the name Atlantis Dream for nine years. "I had always longed to have a place for my retired race horse. Since I had always longed for a horse, I took my first horse back riding lesson on him and bought him! When we saw the farm, I knew Bronx would be living in that pasture."
As with most animal lovers, Bronx was just the first of many residents at the farm. "My husband and I purchased the farm two years ago when our children left for college. My husband is retired, so it was either move back to Nebraska or buy the farm. We renovated the house and barn and, six months later, Bronx and my family moved in to the farm. Bronx had to have pasture companions, so we bought 3 mini horses. Since I still had stall space...I thought why not goats. Just like I knew nothing about horses...I had no knowledge in how to care for goats. You learn quickly that is for sure."
Two goats became four goats and these goats led to GOGA. "We purchased Clara and Annabelle that were 12 weeks old and with horns. I also learned quickly goats without horns are more manageable! I then purchased Kaila and Laila who were 10 days old. I fell hard for goats, and I was in love with them. They are such clean animals and so sweet. Someone said you should try goat yoga as a business. I wasn't interested, but I have a friend who does branding for companies and she ran with it. GOGA opened on April 10, 2017, and we were an busy over night!"
Overnight? No, really. "Paul Milligan with Fox 5 News found us and did a live morning news segment here in May, 2017. At that moment it was never the same. We received 2,000 to 3,000 hits a week on the website. We were seeing over 100 people a week. It was crazy to keep up with the demand."
With the great response, the founder of GOGA is well-positioned to meet the needs of the people who come to her. Cathi Huff has educated herself on caring for equine as well as goats and now pigs & chickens. She holds a Holistic Health Coach Certification, and a Mediation Coaching Certification. She is a Gut Health Practitioner, and holds Hormone Balancing Coach Certification for Women, Reiki Certification and Barre Certification. She is currently working on her 200 Yoga Teacher Training, Aerial Yoga Teacher Training, and Functional Medicine and Naturopath Certification.
"The goats are in the yoga session with the guests jumping on backs, eating animal crackers or laying next to you on your mat. Goats are very social animals that love human interaction," explains Huff. For those who come for a GOGA session, expect 45 minutes of yoga with 15 minutes for photo ops and barn tour.
The reactions to GOGA have been varied but always positive! "I have seen it all....some people just want to pet goats and not do yoga whatsoever," says Huff. "We've had serious athletes that love doing yoga with goats to a drunk Texan lady that had no idea she was headed to GOGA for her birthday. That was a fun session as one of the goats loved her and head butted her the entire session. She was sober by the time she left and said she would never ever forget that birthday."
Huff goes on to say that people love to interact with the goats and see the other farm animals. "My biggest challenge is trying to get people to leave!"
This may all seem like a crazy dream, but Huff feels that it is an amazing adventure. "My dream was to own a horse, and I ended up with a beautiful farm and a barn full of amazing animals. I never dreamed of starting a business...it was truly by accident. If you have a dream, go for it and never give up."
"GOGA started when I was 57 years old," she continues. "I love what I do...I am passionate about sharing my knowledge on how to live a holistic and healthy lifestyle. How to eat clean and focus on feeling full of gratitude and blessed everyday. Enjoy life...enjoy nature...never look back only forward. It's my responsibility to share with others my love for animals, yoga and the therapy animals provide to people."
In closing, Huff says, "My life is rich in so many ways. I have the most beautiful and supportive family you could ever dream of having. I have so many friends that have supported me through this crazy adventure. My direction for 2019 is to promote GOGA, however it will be, with Mindfulness Workshops. I will also be offering aerial restorative yoga with the goat kids. This will be a fun adventure. We will also be focusing on a monthly workshops that will include energy healing, guest speakers, and yoga.
No "kidding"--GOGA sounds great! (Sorry for the pun. I held off as long as I could.) Want to know more? Check out the GOGA website at https://www.lovegoga.com/.