Fitness Fun From the FarmAug 01, 2018 ● By Dru Bickham
Back in March, the Frisco Rail Yard partnered with Happy Goat Yoga - For Charity to host its second event with the organization. Both Rail Yard events sold out within hours of ticket sales opening, and these are not small classes! At an open venue like the Frisco Rail Yard, classes hold up to 80 people. “Goat yoga is not just about the workout. It is really all about people coming together to have fun,” explains Frisco Rail Yard owner Tamme Leff. “And it is not just women who come to the classes! Men and kids come, too, because it really is a family affair!”
This is truly what Susie Martin, the founder of Happy Goat Yoga - For Charity, believes, as well. “There is something at our classes for everyone. If you want to be active and focus on the yoga class, you can. If you want to participate, but try and interact with the goats at the same time, you can. If you want to forget the yoga class and just cuddle with a baby goat in your lap, you can do that, too! Everyone can get what they came for.” Each event is split up into two hours; one for a goat-filled, verified yoga instructor-led class, and one for socializing, eating, drinking and playing more with the goats. Because of this structure, everyone ends up getting time with the animals and the atmosphere is very relaxed. “We definitely strive to make it feel like a real community event, not just like a class you come to and leave right when it finishes,” says Ms. Martin.
Happy Goat Yoga - For Charity is Ms. Martin’s organization, but the reason for its inception lies in her nonprofit, the Here’s Your Reminder Project. “We are mental health advocates focused on combating depression and strengthening relationships through awareness and intentional kindness,” Ms. Martin says, reciting the charity’s mission. As someone with personal experiences with mental health problems, Ms. Martin understands the importance of letting people with similar issues know they are not alone in their struggle. “When I looked back on my experiences, I realized my personal healing started after I heard someone speak about their own depression. And, then it clicked. Other people are going through this and I am not alone.” Since then, Ms. Martin has strived to spread awareness about depression and anxiety, not just for those suffering, but also for those with loved ones who are suffering, so more people can learn how to help.
The Here’s Your Reminder Project also enacts “Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness” to accomplish the second half of their mission: intentional kindness in order to strengthen relationships. Anyone can nominate a loved one who seems to be struggling with mental health issues and that person will receive a curated act of kindness from Ms. Martin’s charity, specifically designed to bring that person joy and let them know they are cared for. The charity also encourages people to go out in the world and practice this philosophy. “Why does kindness have to be random?” she asks. “Doing something kind is so simple, but we often doubt ourselves because of that simplicity. We need to listen to the kindness instead of the doubts and make these acts more frequent and intentional. The goal is to make our relationships stronger and closer.” The theory here is that when someone who is struggling with their mental health knows they have strong relationships to turn to, they will be more likely to reach out for help from those people, instead of trying to figure it out alone.
When Ms. Martin started her nonprofit, she was struggling to self-fund the charity, and there just was not enough capital to achieve all she wanted for the cause. When the idea came to her to try using goat yoga classes as both a way to raise money and a way to gain visibility throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, it became a blessing. The classes boomed in popularity and more venues began to open their doors and allow Happy Goat Yoga to “do their thing” and bring people together. “Happy Goat Yoga is providing a way for the community to come and have fun and get some stress relief. We say you cannot be grumpy with a goat on your back, and it is true. These classes allow you to get out of your own head for a while and realize there is more to the world than the problems you woke up thinking about.”
While on the surface these classes are very lighthearted, the message and mission of the Here’s Your Reminder Project are still presented at events. Ms. Martin says she has been blessed with meeting people who needed her organization just as much as she needed them. Because of the popularity and success of these events, Happy Goat Yoga - For Charity has been able to pull in other charitable causes and joint-host events, raising money for both causes.
More recently, the Here’s Your Reminder Project partnered with recent Frisco High School graduate Reagan Robinson and her charity, Covered in Love, to host a joint super fundraiser event through Happy Goat Yoga. The event was held on May 17, in the middle of both National Mental Health Awareness Month and National Foster Care Awareness Month. “I created the organization Covered in Love to raise awareness around the mental health realities of children living in the foster care system,” Ms. Robinson explains. “Foster care children suffer from a wide variety of abandonment issues and stress, which result in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and more.” Ms. Robinson conducted extensive research on the foster care system through her independent study and mentorship (ISM) class during her senior year, while also studying public relations for nonprofit organizations. She learned about the use of weighted blankets as therapeutic tools to calm nerves, help with sleep and regulate and maintain mood balance in victims of anxiety and other issues. Ms. Robinson’s charity raises money to provide these weighted blankets to children in the foster care system. “I originally created Covered in Love for my ISM project, but decided to run with it and make it more than a research project, but a real and impactful organization.” The joint event with Here’s Your Reminder was a big success, and Covered in Love raised $1,300 and spread awareness about their mission to even more people.
As Happy Goat Yoga continues to expand, the organization is actively searching for more Frisco venues where they can host classes. “We love our Frisco people! They took to the classes like I knew they would!” admits Ms. Martin.
The next time you do not know what to do with a Saturday afternoon, check to see if there are any charitable causes spreading some joy with a few baby goats and some yoga mats!