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What in the world is a goat yoga class? You may be wondering that very thing, and if you are, you're not alone! Goat yoga is a new fitness trend that is quickly gaining popularity.
It's what it sounds like - combining yoga practiced while goats roam around among the participants. It may sound strange, but trust us when we say that it's a lot of fun!
Just what is goat yoga? Baby goat yoga, or just “goat yoga,” is a novelty yoga practice made famous in 2016.
Essentially, the practice has participants doing yoga alongside a little goat.
Sometimes, each participant will have “their own personal goat” for the class duration. At other studios, there will be two or three goats mingling with the entire class.
Generally speaking, the goal of goat yoga is to do some simple yoga while smiling, laughing, and having fun with goats — known as some of the cutest, cuddliest, and happiest animals on the farm.
If yoga with goats sounds odd to you, you’re not alone. And make no mistake — the concept doesn’t go back thousands of years like the spiritual discipline of yoga. The founder is a woman named Lainey Morse, who in 2016 decided to start this practice with some goats she owned in Albany, Oregon.
Around this time, Lainey says she was going through a difficult period. Divorce, the recent diagnosis of a disease, and other setbacks had her struggling emotionally. But whenever she was around her goats, she says, her world brightened.
It helps create peace and tranquillity, a perfect combination for both soul and mind. And this was the beginning of goat yoga as we know it today.
Lainey decided that this spark of joy should be shared, so she began offering “goat happy hours” to local people and anyone interested in getting some goat therapy of their own.
When telling this to a friend who was a yoga instructor, Lainey’s friend came up with a brilliant idea: why not combine goat therapy with yoga for the ultimate combination of physical and emotional positivism?
And the rest, as they say, is history. Goat yoga took off and became extremely popular in various places all over North America.
Here are some benefits of goat yoga. This list includes the benefits of both yoga as a practice and time spent with goats (goat therapy):
Stress reduction: Both yoga and spending time with animals can help to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
Anxiety relief: Again, yoga and animal therapy helps to ease anxiety symptoms. It is also good if you are feeling depressed.
In some cases, being surrounded by these animals has been shown to make the practitioners laugh, and we all know how healthy laughter can be!
Mood enhancement: The endorphins released during yoga and the happiness exuded by goats can help to improve your mood
Improved flexibility: yoga helps to enhance your flexibility and range of motion
Cardiovascular exercise (lower blood pressure): Yoga helps to get your heart rate up and can lower blood pressure
Pain relief: Both yoga and goat therapy can help to alleviate pain
Positivity: As mentioned, both yoga and goats can help to create a more positive outlook on life
Improved sleep quality: Yoga has scientifically proven to enhance sleep quality
Improved breathing: Yoga helps to improve your breathing and can be beneficial for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions
Goat yoga costs slightly more than a regular yoga class because you’re paying for the care of happy, trained goats.
If you’re an animal lover and don’t mind some of the unexpected occurrences that sometimes happen when furry friends are around (poop, pee, small nips on the fingers), then goat yoga can be a blast.
Of course, not everyone wants to combine an appreciation for animals with their yoga practice.
Of all farm animals, goats are some of the most carefree and happy (especially when they’re in adorable baby yoga clothes). At yoga farms, trained handlers are present and help to lead classes.
The goats are trained to be around humans, and humans, likewise, receive instruction on how to stay safe and treat the goats carefully and with respect.
Gone are the days when goat yoga was only done by a small group of people in Albany, Oregon.
This fun and unique way to do yoga has spread all across North America, with classes popping up in cities and towns from coast to coast.
So, is goat yoga still popular?
The answer is a resounding yes!
The pygmy goat is the most common type of goat in these classes. Goat yoga often uses baby goats; however, adult goats (like the adult pygmy goat) can be just as therapeutic.
When practicing yoga with baby goats at a certified farm with trained yoga teachers and animal handlers, the classes should not be dangerous for you or the goats.
However, keep in mind that goats love jumping and climbing. Some might walk on your body or get on your back while in a specific pose. Most class participants say this doesn’t hurt (and may even feel like a massage). It could momentarily be uncomfortable as goats do have hard hooves.
Goat yoga is done the same way as regular yoga, except that goats are present! The goats may sit on your back while in certain poses or just wander around and provide some extra cuteness and amusement.
Some classes even allow you to take breaks to pet and cuddle with the baby goats.
Wear comfortable clothing that you can move around in. You may want to avoid loose, flowing clothes as the goats may grab on to them with their mouths (they love to chew!).
You should also wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from the goats’ hooves. Also, bring a yoga mat to comfortably perform the different poses, such as the downward dog.
Yoga is not about self-improvement; it’s about self-acceptance.
― Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa