HARTFORD, Conn. — What to do with a new $71 million minor league baseball stadium during the winter?
If you're the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, you turn to real goats. Time for goat yoga class.
Talk about a farm team.
The national phenomenon of goat yoga began in Oregon just over a year ago when students would assume poses such as downward dog while small goats would crawl around — and often on top of — the participants.
"You're really connecting with the animals," said Tracy Longoria, who partnered with the baseball team and also offers the classes on her Aussakita Acres farm in nearby Manchester, Connecticut. "The goats are just so therapeutic. It's such a great stress reliever. Many of the people who do it have never done yoga before. They are just there for the interaction with the animals."
Mike Abramson, the team's general manager, said the club was looking for marketing opportunities. Yard Goat Yoga seemed the perfect match.
"It was an easy yes," he said. "My expectation is that this is going to become a regular thing. Hey, if it's popular enough, maybe we'll just ditch the baseball and run a goat yoga park."
The 6,100-seat Dunkin' Donuts Park, which opened last spring, has a large indoor batting facility, which will be converted into a studio for the monthly classes. If things work out, Abramson said, and the team can persuade the groundskeepers to go along, classes will move to the outfield during the summer.
For now, four classes are scheduled to get an idea of what is involved in terms of commitment, interest and, yes, cleanup.
"Accidents happen," s Longoria said. "But we're as sanitary as possible. If someone has a little poopy accident, we're right there to clean it up. We have all the disinfectants and anti-bacterial sprays and soaps and all of that."
The classes have already sold out. The team is charging $40 per person.
There are 40 students in a class and the farm will bring about 15 goats for each session. The sessions will be led by certified instructor Danuta Wolk-Laniewski, who owns YogaPerk, a yoga studio in Manchester and also teaches the classes on Longoria's farm.
She said the classes are designed for children as young as 8 but will include serious, if basic, yoga. She hopes that some human Yard Goats might get involved as part of their health regimen.
"Yoga is definitely good for everybody's bodies, especially athletes," she said. "Hopefully some of the players take the class as well, take some yoga, have some fun with us and do some core training where we put the goats on the back. Because, it's always more fun to plank with a goat on your back."
Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press