Following her divorce and the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, Lainey Morse fell into a depressive rut. Fortunately, these dark hours did spark an innovative concept that has since swept the nation. Though you may not be familiar with Lainey, you have most likely heard of her trendy entrepreneurial idea: goat yoga. Morse relays that during this melancholy period in her life, she would often step into her barn and spend quality time with her goats. She found that merely interacting with these goats had become a major source of solace and joy. This inspired her to combine goat time with another form of stress relief, i.e., yoga. Following the success of Morse’s business, many other goat yoga operations have since materialized across the nation. The demand for goat yoga is now sky-high, but why? Is the rise of goat yoga a result of people chasing a viral trend, or is it because the combination of goats and yoga is truly therapeutically beneficial?
First thing’s first: why goats?
For those who first learn of goat yoga’s existence, a reasonable question will likely arise: why goats, rather than alternative, perhaps more common, animals? Morse’s response is a simple one: she asserts that goats are “unexpectedly smart, social and profoundly cuddly animals.” This much is true. Their fun-loving, spontaneous nature is utterly infectious, and certainly makes walking into any given goat yoga class a unique and unpredictable experience. Beyond that, Morse believes that goats are the ideal therapy animal. According to her, what sets this species apart from other emotional support animals is that they don’t require prior interaction with you in order to be friendly and engaging. Who would have guessed that goats would be the undisputed social butterflies of the animal kingdom!
What does a goat yoga class look like?
The yogic aspect of goat yoga does not stray too far from a routine yoga class. Though the setting is commonly outdoors (for obvious reasons), there are instructors present to lead the sessions and walk participants through yoga sequences. The types of yoga taught tend to be very beginner-friendly; goat yoga operations hope to attract yogis of all skill levels, as well as anyone and everyone who has an interest in spending some quality time with a horde of adorable goats!
As for the goats’ roles in these classes: you can expect to have goats hop onto your back virtually every time you hold a plank or sink into Child’s Pose. Most facilities will find ways to incentivize as much goat-human interaction as possible. To achieve this, handlers will often encourage goats to leap onto participants’ bodies by enticing them with various treats. Due to all this physical contact, goat yoga facilities will usually house and employ baby goats as they are smaller and are better-fared to induce inconsequential damage to your spine.
Despite focus and concentration being one of the key pillars of yoga, this is not an expectation in the case of goat yoga. Then again, even the most devoted yogi may agree that breaking focus is perfectly acceptable when there are goats in our midst.
The benefits of goat yoga
Goat yoga is an indisputably fun time, but we have to question whether its innate value ends there. It’s been scientifically established that yoga can do wonders for physical and mental well-being. The consistent practice of yoga can provide pain relief, manage one’s anxiety and depression, improve cardiovascular health, and so much more. However, goat yoga brings a lot to the table, too. Research studies reflects the notion that interacting with animals comes with its own set of health benefits, including:
- decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- improved mood and general well-being
- decrease in stress hormones
- increased social interaction and physical movement
Many participants express their jubilance and lifted spirits following a single goat yoga class. It’s no wonder why goat yoga has become so popularized in such a short span of time: combining furry animals and exercise is, simply put, genius. Goats not only serve as an incentive to practice yoga and get the blood pumping; they also bear their own set of benefits. Interacting with therapy animals fulfills the human need for companionship, socialization, and even physical touch.
Some trends are simply the result of cash-grab operations and gimmicky ideas, but we wouldn’t be so quick to characterize goat yoga as such. If an activity has the capacity to bring joy and inner peace to patrons and encourage more people to exercise and stay fit, that’s a winner in our book!