Half fitness class, half petting zoo, goat yoga classes are sweeping the nation. And while it may not be easy to hold poses such as the downward dog with little goats climbing on your belly or back and gumming your toes and ears, those who participate in the practice say the sheer joy they feel from interacting with the animals more than makes up for the lack of focus. In fact, most people find it hard to resist snuggling with the goats.
“It’s a different way to find inner peace, so basically you come to yoga class to find your center, to be relaxed, to ground yourself, and basically animals do the same thing” stated Brandon Nobles, director of Goat Yoga in Las Vegas, who added that his instructors commonly place food pellets on their yogis’ backs or underneath their mats to draw the animals to them.
The only real drawback as far as he can see is the scent of goat poop from the 20 or so animals that roam freely inside a fenced enclosure where the classes take place outdoors.
Meanwhile, Lainey Morse of Albany, Oregon told CNN that her goat yoga classes have become so popular she has a waiting list of more than 1200 people eager to take part at her “No Regrets” farm.
“Goats are perfect for the yoga practice because it’s not only combining nature and animals, it’s combining yoga, and they all go together so well”
In fact, Morse found that they goats act as therapy animals for many of the people who come to her farm recovering from cancer or other illnesses, including anxiety and depression, as well as those with other disabilities.
“It’s not curing diseases, but it’s helping people cope with whatever they’re going through.”
In fact, Morse admits that her goats have helped her cope with her own autoimmune disease.
According to Lainey, the idea for goat yoga was born out of a comment made by a mother during a charity kid’s party held in her meadow. The woman, a yoga instructor, had remarked that it seemed like a perfect place for yoga, and she agreed, provided that the goats were included. The rest is history.
Meanwhile, 50 goats were brought to the Denver County Fair earlier this month, where they proved to be a big hit with yogis of all ages thanks to owner Sydney Burt, who currently raises 140 Dwarf Nigerian goats at Mountain Country Nigerians east of Denver.
It should be noted that Nigerian goats are the preferred breed for goat yoga, mostly because of their small size (ranging from 17-23 inches tall) and the fact that they have personalities similar to dogs. In fact, the breed is particularly noted for being friendly and easy to train. This not only makes them great domestic pets, they are also ideal “visitor” animals for hospitals as well as nursing homes and other rehabilitation centers.