Baaaaa-maste: Alma Mater Productions organizes Goat Yoga event to reduce stress, improve mental health


Sunday, Nov. 5, Alma Mater Productions’ Special Events committee welcomed a herd of honored, albeit unconventional, furry guests to the Sunken Garden for its third annual Goat Yoga event at the College of William and Mary. The event is designed to uplift mental health and wellness, according to AMP Special Events committee member Adrianna Kopp ’25.

“We were going to do puppy yoga, which is also very beneficial to mental health, but something about holding goats the right, proper way and having them cuddle with you — the trainer was like, ‘When you hold them, pretend like you own them, and when you hold them, they’ll treat you like that, and they’ll snuggle up to you really close,’” Kopp said. “So, 100%, there’s serotonin involved there.”

AMP organized the afternoon into two sessions. During the first half, all students were welcomed into a large, open pen to pet, cuddle and play with goats, no registration required. 

“[It was] definitely more crowded than anything I’ve gone to before,” event attendee Maanasa Schwartzkopf ’27 said. “I wonder if, maybe if there were smaller pens next time so there were less people in each one, that would be good, but I did have a good time overall.”

The second half was dedicated to the goat yoga class itself, which required advanced registration as it was limited to only 60 participants. One attendee, Gemma McCreight ’26, reflected on her decision to sign up for the focused yoga class after a positive experience at last year’s iteration of Goat Yoga.

“When you’re just hanging out with the goats, especially the smaller ones, they kind of crowd towards one group,” McCreight said. “But when you’re doing yoga, the instructors all encourage the goats to go on top of you, and you get to interact with them more directly.” 

To provide the headlining animals, AMP collaborated with vendors from Pactamere Farm, located just outside of Richmond. The family-owned farm offers on-site goat yoga multiple times a week, along with various other activities accompanied by their goats, such as movie nights. Co-owner Katie Evans cited the benefits of goat yoga that allowed their classes to quickly gain popularity.

“It does help with core strength,” Evans said. “Obviously, you have anywhere from a 10-pound to 40- or 50-pound goat on your back, you’re going to have to have some core strength. Also, I think the animal-assisted therapy part of it is the main benefit of it. Animals are therapeutic. Goats love the human interaction, and people feel good, and they’re happy.” 

Goat Yoga was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30, but minutes before the program was set to begin, the vendors alerted AMP organizers they had blown a tire en route to Williamsburg. AMP members were faced with the challenge of efficiently responding to the change and determining how to proceed, eventually choosing cancellation as the most viable option in light of the exigent circumstances. 

“We were like, ‘Oh, no, are your goats okay?’” AMP Special Events Chair Emma Stephens ’25 said. “They were all okay and everything, but they wouldn’t have gotten here until the event was ending, so for staffing purposes, and also just getting the word out, the vendor and I agreed that it would just be better to reschedule it.”

Despite the initial setback, however, Goat Yoga was nevertheless seen as a resounding success by the AMP staff and the goat handlers. Now in its third year, Goat Yoga has become an annual tradition on campus, and to this, Stephens described how the event’s popularity secures it a spot on the schedule year after year when AMP members plan and budget their programming.

“I don’t know if it’s that people love goats, or it’s just something super fun and different on campus, but it really is an attention grabber, and everyone gets so excited,” Stephens said. “In terms of the sign-ups, you post the sign-ups, and they were gone in ten minutes.” 

When it comes to the reasons for the high demand, animal-loving students like Schwartzkopf recalled being drawn to the event simply by the very presence of the goats.

“I just love goats,” Schwartzkopf said. “I’m, in general, an animal person. I’ve done animal rights activism the past few years. I’ve worked with animals the past few years. I love them, and goats were my favorite animals in childhood.”

Others were enticed specifically by the yoga element of the event as well. Aja Bauer ’26 described her experience with yoga since childhood as a major influence in her decision to register for the yoga session. 

“I’m not too good about going and taking yoga classes,” Bauer said. “I am very physically active. I love to lift, I love to climb, but in terms of going and taking a class, I’m not too good about going out of my way and setting up a time for a class. I think it was good to just take some time and de-stress for the week, and do something I don’t normally do, like goat yoga.” 

Aspects of yoga have an instinctive appeal to not just students of the College, but the goats themselves as well. Evans explained the natural ease of training the goats to participate in the yoga, a practice they surprisingly seem not to mind. 

“Goats innately love to jump anyway,” Evans said. “They like to be the highest and be on top of everything, and they fight to be the best, and they’re always so playful, so training them to jump is not hard, it’s just routine.”

Whatever may be the reason for its popularity, Goat Yoga left students at the College championing its emotional benefits in the face of stress. Kopp herself, after working to plan the event, remarked on her improved mood after getting up close and personal with the four-legged friends.

“I just thought it was the most adorable thing ever,” Kopp said. “It really made my day, and I can’t stop smiling. I’ve just been really happy because I have so much work to do today, but this was good. This was really good.”


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