Ok. Admit it. Animals, especially the ones we're used to spending time with, from tiny kittens to majestic horses, are a powerful tool for keeping us stressed-out bipeds together. One sloppy kiss, nuzzle, paw slap or tail wag can dissipate pressure, anxiety or depression in seconds. Yes, even if it's a poorly-timed tail-to-head smack in the middle of your yoga practice or a pair of little paws wandering across your back in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Pose). Both science and common sense agree: cute, fuzzy, four-leggers are good for you. That goes some way to explain the current craze (as in 80,000 Instagram results) for goat yoga. But, why goats?
Lainey Morse, the marketer-turned-goat-fan who started the semi-viral practice (and has now trademarked The Original Goat Yoga, which applies to classes on her farms and a few select licensees outside of her Oregon base), contends that it’s a fusion of the animals and the environment. To her, and to its fans, the classes become therapeutic relaxation sessions for stressed, anxious, depressed or ill students to find their calm and joy.
A typical class consists of a gentle yoga practice, done outdoors on yoga mats. The goats share space with the students, wandering around and occasionally jumping on students’ backs or nibbling at mats, hair or clothing (don’t panic—the jumping goats are just babies and their hooves feel like a light massage). Yes, they also might, well, heed the call of nature mid-class. Consider yourself warned.
If you’re ready to give it a go, most farms (and some studios) that offer goat yoga do it weekly or monthly. Some will confirm the date after you book. Expect prices to vary widely, depending on location and whether wine or snacks are included.
If you’d rather unwind at home, try these poses to calm and center yourself, no farm necessary:
Benefits: This easy movement frees up your back after a long day of sitting.
How to do it: Come onto all fours. Your knees should be under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Exhale and arch your back to the ceiling. Return to neutral spine. Repeat five times.
Benefits: This deceptively simply standing pose lets you check in with your body before moving to the rest of your practice.
How to do it: Stand with the insides of your big toes together, heels just slightly apart. Lift the fronts of your legs. Keep a natural arch in your back. Don’t overarch or flatten your spine. Roll your shoulders back and down. Leave your arms by your sides. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
Benefits: This ultimately relaxing pose helps tension leave your body.
Remember, however you feel best able to let go of useless pressure, go for it!
How to do it: Lay on your mat, gazing at the ceiling with your legs straight out and your hands palm-up. Close your eyes and slowly feel tightness and stress dissolving in each body part. Hold for at least five minutes, then gently roll to one side to come up.