Unwind with escape to 'secret’ hideaway for goat yoga, outdoor fitness

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Goat Yoga classes are back for another season at Secret Eden in Dayton.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Goats romp and play, chickens meander about and a line of ducks parades toward the pond. It’s almost impossible to believe that just beyond the towering trees, a seemingly endless stream of cars drives by this urban oasis and downtown Dayton is just minutes away.

Secret Eden – located on Siebenthaler Avenue – is true to its name with more than nine acres of land complete with pastures, a lotus pond, hiking trail and plenty of space for the 17 goats to roam.

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“There is such a good energy here,” owner Terri Burton said. “It’s a great place to connect with nature, it’s really magical.”

Burton and partner David Smith share their scenic space by offering goat yoga in the shaded pondside pasture and Qigong classes in the event pavilion. Outdoor fitness options have become increasingly popular in the era of COVID-19.

“I think people want to get out and be outside,” Smith said. “We’ve been selling out almost every class.”

Seventeen goats live at Secret Eden, an urban retreat. CONTRIBUTED/DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ

Credit: CONTRIBUTED/DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ

Credit: CONTRIBUTED/DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ

Goat Yoga Experience

Practicing cat and cow poses with a goat on your back? It’s possible. A gentle nudge from a little goat while you’re practicing tree pose under the trees? It’s likely.

“You hear a lot of giggling and laughing during class,” Smith said. “Some people just sit on their mat and pet the goats.”

The experience begins with time to get to know the herd of Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats – Walter is a character and Darla seems to know she’s pretty. Goat selfies are a must.

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The participants then make their way to the outdoor studio area and roll out their mats. Then, the fun begins as the goats interact with the students throughout the hour-long easy flow yoga class. The resident chickens will also, likely, get in on the practice.

“Goats are friendly and very therapeutic,” Burton said. “It’s very calming to be around them. They love to be petted and they go from mat to mat and visit everyone.”

The class is designed for all experience levels. Many of the students are new to yoga entirely.

“Our instructor is very spiritual and low key; it’s perfect for everyone,” Smith said.

Practicing cat and cow poses with a goat on your back is possible. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Qigong

Secret Eden isn’t just about yoga, or even the goats, as they have recently started offering Qigong classes. Qigong is an ancient Chinese mind-body-spirit practice designed to improve both mental and physical health. The dynamic meditation integrates posture, movement and breathing techniques.

The pondside pavilion is an ideal place for relaxation, reflection and a series of easy flow exercises designed to revitalize your qi or energy. The class is easily adaptable to all ability levels.

“When you’re so far removed from nature, as most of us are, and then you add in the virus, it can really add to stress levels,” said Burton, who is also a nurse. “Connecting with nature offers a renewal and a calming.”

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Upcoming Events at Secret Eden

Sept. 26: Goat Yoga Experience, 10 a.m., $25 (sold out)

Sept. 27: Qigong, 10 a.m., $20

Oct. 3: Goat Yoga Experience, 10 a.m., $25

Oct. 10: Qigong, 10 a.m., $20

Oct. 24: Sunset Goat Yoga followed by wine and cheese reception and Halloween bonfire, 6:30 p.m., $50 For event information, visit www.secreteden.net or Secret Eden on Facebook

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