You may have heard of goat yoga, a popular trend where you practice yoga surrounded by goats. The idea originated in Oregon, where a local farm owner founded the first publicized goat yoga event to spread happiness. The class was a hit, and goat yoga can now be found across the US. I thought the event sounded weird, but I wanted to keep an open mind. After all, I do like yoga and goats.
After attending a goat yoga class, this is what I learned.
It Is All About the Experience.
Goat yoga is an experience. It isn’t something you do every day, and that’s the point. Taking photos is a major part of the experience and class stopped for photo breaks to capture the moment as a goat stands on you while you're in Table Top Pose.
It is important to acknowledge that taking photos with wild animals can cause harm, especially if the animal is endangered. Goats, however, are domesticated and need human care.
The class also gives you the chance to hang out with and learn about goats. Many people do not have direct experience interacting with goats, and goat yoga allows you to spend time with them and observe their behaviors.
The Animal Welfare is Good.
People seem to enjoy goat yoga, but I wasn’t sure if goats would feel the same. The goats were treated well and the event space met the Five Freedoms, standards used to assess animal welfare. The goats have access to food and water, and can move around freely.
The class was something the goats seemed comfortable with, and they were happy to hop onto people’s backs with a treat as a reward. It requires money to care for animals, and by practicing goat yoga you are supporting the goats and their care.
It Is Not Traditional.
No surprise here – goat yoga is not traditional. You are encouraged to do yoga, but when cute baby goats surround you, your focus is usually going to be outward, often with your phone in hand in case a cute photo opportunity presents itself! Instead of feeling relaxed and looking inward, you will likely be laughing and looking outward.
Goat yoga has some similarities to a regular yoga class – you are practicing physical yoga postures, but not in a way connected to a specific yoga lineage or in the tradition of yoga philosophy. That said, it can also be nice to step outside of your normal yoga practice and do something different.
It Isn’t the Best Introduction to a Yoga Practice.
If you are interested in starting a yoga practice, I wouldn’t recommend goat yoga as the first choice. Yoga does require basic knowledge of postures, alignment and breathing techniques, and these foundational concepts are difficult to teach with goats around. Beginner students should go to a class that helps them learn yoga foundations.
It Will Make You Laugh.
Goat yoga was founded to bring joy to people. And this is, in my opinion, the best part of the experience. The event is social, and this makes it a fun event. I have never been in a yoga class where I laughed so much. You know the sometimes-awkward waiting period you have before a yoga class begins? That time is now filled with watching and interacting with the goats. I also found it really easy to joke with people next to me.
Keep Your Mind Open.
I entered the goat yoga experience feeling skeptical, but I came out with a different perspective. Goat yoga isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. For me, it is a one-time event, but for others, maybe it would be part of a regular practice. It is important to keep your mind open to new ideas and experiences. You may learn something new in a place that you least expect it, and even have a bit of fun while doing it.