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Hamden’s best kept secret: goat yoga
Goat yoga classes at Nadeau Farms (74 Calamus Meadow Rd., Hamden) are taught by a professional instructor who encourages beginners, yoga pros and animal lovers alike to attend classes. The purpose of the program is to create a laid-back environment for busy people to relax and escape from the business of their everyday lives.
Classes typically have a maximum attendance of around 20 people, and last an hour. They follow the course of a typical yoga session, minus the presence of the goats. Guests are welcomed to take a break from yoga during lessons to interact with the animals.
“Some people have never had the opportunity to interact with farm animals before,” proprietor of Nadeau Farms Leah Hilton said. “But we give people the chance to do just that.”
Nadeau Farm is an animal rescue farm owned and operated by the Hilton family since 1939. Hilton is the main caretaker of Nadeau’s vast array of livestock, which is no easy feat. Nadeau is home to countless goats, chickens, ducks, donkeys, mini-horses — you name it. This past spring, Hilton heard about a small trend on the west coast and realized she could make the concept work right here on the east coast in Hamden.
“I got in touch with the woman who started it all in Oregon,” Hilton said. “I was thinking of doing goat yoga for a while, and then I saw that she was doing it and having success. The rest is history.”
The reception to Nadeau’s latest service could not have been warmer. Classes have been well attended, and people are loving being able to connect to the farm animals. In fact, the majority of attendees are not local at all. Yoga students range from Long Island, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island natives. Hilton is hoping to increase awareness of the program locally.
“The response has been incredible, and people from all over are loving it,” Hilton said. “I’ve even had calls from people in Puerto Rico.”
Junior journalism major Paige Meyers attended one of Nadeau Farm’s yoga classes this past Saturday.
“The only part I didn’t like was that a goat pooped on my yoga mat so that was a bit of disruption to my relaxation,” Meyers said. “But seriously, it was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone interested,”
Nadeau Farm has many other operations aside from the yoga classes. Hilton has many responsibilities in order to keep all of the animals healthy, and that comes at a price. Her husband is able to make money by restoring vintage buses and cars, but with agricultural supply prices skyrocketing, it just wasn’t enough anymore. The yoga classes have proven to be a steady income for Nadeau, much to its owner’s relief.
“I stopped counting how many animals we have,” Hilton admitted. “That way, when my husband asks, I can honestly say ‘I don’t know,’ so he can’t stop me from adopting more.”
Hilton is currently devising a plan that would allow her to take goat yoga to the Quinnipiac Quad. She explained that she spoke with the university about planning scheduled classes and accepting Q-Cash.
But, for now you can take a goat yoga lesson at Hilton Farm on Saturdays and Sundays. The full schedule can be found on the farm’s website: nadeaufarm.com. Classes cost $25, and yoga mats are provided in case you don’t have your own.
“I swear, we are best kept secret in Hamden,” Hilton said. The Hiltons are eager to change that, as they expand their business with the help of their furry friends.