One of the beauties of yoga is that it’s an extremely diverse movement practice. From Ashtanga yoga and Hatha yoga to Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga and Power yoga, there are so many styles of yoga that nearly everyone can find some type of yoga to meet their fitness goals and body needs on any given day.
There are also fascinating niche types of yoga these days, newer offshoots with perhaps less of an ardent fan base than say Vinyasa or Restorative yoga, but with plenty of benefits of their own. Examples include face yoga, laughter yoga, and yes, even goat yoga.
In many ways goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like—yoga with goats—but it’s also so much more. To get a VIP look inside the crazy world of goat yoga, we spoke to two goat yoga instructors who filled us in about arguably the cutest and most creative way to practice yoga. Goat yoga is sure to make you smile.
In this guide, we’re going to look at:
- What Is Goat Yoga?
- What Is the Basic Principle Behind Goat Yoga?
- Why Is It “Goat” Yoga?
- The Benefits and Downsides of Goat Yoga
- Why You Should Try Yoga With Goats
Let’s jump in!
What Is Goat Yoga?
Goat yoga is essentially yoga with goats. It is the brainchild of Lainey Morse. It began in 2016 as her answer to dealing with life stressors such as chronic illness, anxiety, self-doubt, and financial strain.
In a nutshell, goat yoga is practicing yoga in the company of baby goats. Yes, baby goat yoga.
“Goat Yoga is a unique interaction session between baby goats, their mothers, and us as humans,” explains Diana Malone, EMYoga Teacher, Reiki Master, and Thought Field Therapy Practitioner. “We are in a wonderful paddock with a cherry blossom tree to shelter under from the sun in the summer [and practice yoga] whilst the goats interact with everyone.”
The goats roam about freely while the session takes place, and can be enticed to the mat with food when they are needed for specific asanas or exercises.
What Is the Basic Principle Behind Baby Goat Yoga?
Malone says the principle behind goat yoga is the mutually beneficial interaction between the humans and the goats.“The goats love being around people because they get plenty of affection, plenty of healthy exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation,” she explains. “For us, we are completely distracted mentally by the goats reducing our cortisol levels and increasing oxytocin levels (linked with bonding) and dopamine levels (involved in the reward-motivation system).”
Korinne Harper Johnson, President, and Founder of Downward Goat, says, “The basic principle behind goat yoga is a way to leave the rest of the world outside the gate for a little while and enjoy being outside and connecting with these wonderful animals and each other. Animals provide both a distraction from everyday life and a reminder to be present.”
Why Is It “Goat” Yoga?
Malone says that other animals have been used, but goat yoga is the type that’s stuck because goats love human interaction. She also adds that “they are unpredictable and very free and childlike and that is wonderfully appealing.”
It makes sense: signing up for a baby goat yoga class means you get to be surrounded by the most adorable little faces.
The Benefits of Goat Yoga
Of course, yoga itself provides a host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, such as increasing strength and flexibility, supporting a healthy weight, improving balance and posture, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving mood and overall well-being.
Malone says that the calming and relaxing benefits of yoga are significantly magnified with goat yoga due to the psychological effects of petting and playing with the goats.
“We find ourselves completely “in the moment”; therefore, all of our worries fall away and the mind can find some peace,” she notes. “Often people sit for ages with a goat on their mat giving it a cuddle. It is very lighthearted.”
The fact that goat yoga is practiced outside brings additional benefits. In fact, studies have shown that exercising outside has a more significant impact on releasing endorphins and elevating mood than performing the same workout inside.
Being physically on the grass is also grounding and can connect you to nature.
Finally, Malone adds that goat yoga is often a very accessible style of yoga, provided you work with a reputable company and certified yoga instructor. Poses are more gentle and the focus is really on moving your body while enjoying the connection and interactions with the goats.
The Downsides of Goat Yoga
As with nearly everything, there are potential downsides to taking a goat yoga class over a standard Hatha or Hot yoga class at your local studio. Most notably, you’ll be practicing yoga outside, so you are subject to the weather. It may be raining, hot, windy, cold, and you may not be able to practice goat yoga year-round where you live.
As most people would surmise, the goats can also chew on your hair or clothes and they may soil your mat or clothing as they roam about and play.
“The goats are real animals. They don’t wear diapers in class. Yes, occasionally the goats will ‘bless’ a mat,” says Johnson. “They investigate everything with their mouths; hair is a favorite thing. We have also had them run off with car keys and $20 bills!”
You just never know what adventures and antics you’ll get to witness in a goat yoga class. It’s all part of the charm.
Johnson says that one additional potential downside of goat yoga, depending on how you look at it, is that the workouts are all about the goats. If you’re looking for a serious and formal yoga class, this isn’t the type of yoga for you.
“You have to take the seriousness out of your workout and take time to work on the mental side of fitness—learning to connect and breathe and allow nature to be,” advises Johnson.
And, this is largely the draw of goat yoga in the first place—a lighthearted, fun experience that blends some yoga with tons of adorableness and laughs.
Why You Should Try Goat Yoga
Goat yoga offers the opportunity to step outside of what you normally do–whether in terms of your usual yoga routine or life at large. Goat yoga can help you laugh and smile, and build connections, in times when that might not be as easy as you’d like it to be.
So go ahead and look up “goat yoga near me…”
“We all need a moment to connect with each other and know that what we are seeing and feeling is real. There are no filters here. The goats are just goats,” says Johnson. “They are all different sizes and shapes and colors and care not at all what any of us look like or what we think or who we love. They only care that we are kind.”
Johnson continues, “When they know we enter their space with a kind heart, they want to be part of our world. Sometimes, they will rub their heads on your back. Sometimes, they will jump and hop around. Sometimes, they will snuggle up next to you and have a nap. They seem to know what we need from them and are happy to provide if we just take a moment and let them.”
So, you’ve heard of goat yoga, but what about puppy yoga?!
Before you begin searching “goat yoga near me”, maybe puppies are more your style…