It's well-known that practicing yoga and meditation is good not just for physical health, but also for one's sense of mental well-being. But what about the health benefits of practicing yoga -- with goats?
Goat yoga has emerged as one of those quirkier 'blends' of yoga that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays, from yogalates (or is it pila-yoga?) to HIIT yoga and aerial yoga. But according to Lainey Morse, photographer and founder of Goat Yoga, doing yoga with goats happily roaming around isn't any different than other forms of animal-assisted therapy -- think of the comfort that dogs and horses can bring to someone who's depressed or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is goat therapy, says Morse:
Goat yoga was created to be a therapy for people and provide a happy distraction for those suffering from stress, illness or depression. It really works!
Morse, who owns a farm and often found solace in spending time with her goats whenever she felt low, got the idea for goat yoga back in 2016 when she let a yoga instructor friend use her Oregon property for hosting a yoga class. Some cute and cuddly baby goats roamed in, nuzzling and climbing onto students, much to the delight of everyone. At that moment, goat yoga was born.
Even if one might be skeptical about combining exercise with animals that will undoubtedly get underfoot, the point is that these lovable creatures do get students to let their guard down a bit, all in the middle of a bucolic setting. Put all those elements together, and that in itself can be quite beneficial.
In any case, it appears the formula is working, as Morse's business has since grown: classes often get full, and now there are also new locations in New York, California, Pennsylvania and more. There are a plethora of similar businesses offering goat yoga, but Morse -- who spends three to four hours daily with her goats and hires a veterinarian to give them monthly checkups -- cautions that prospective students should always ask some important questions about the welfare of the goats in the class prior to joining up:
I always tell people to vet the classes that they're going to be sure that the goats are in their 'forever home' and loved. Make sure that the goats aren't sold for meat or bred like crazy just to always have babies.
Morse's aim is to transition her grown goats as long-term therapy animals that will not be eaten or mistreated. So far, goat yoga classes and goat-themed wine and beer-tastings are being offered, but Morse hopes to someday open some kind of therapeutic retreat or "goat hotel" on the farm:
The concept for this "goat hotel" idea is because I live on a farm and it is the most therapeutic experience -- being out in nature with big expansive views with chickens strolling by and goats that want to hang out with you and follow you around. It's just so relaxing and I hope I can share that with people someday.