Yoga recently branched out. Its new form, goat yoga, is spreading internationally as a form of animal-assisted therapy. According to the goat yoga website, their therapy provides aid to stress, depression, illness, autism, PTSD and even has been known to lower blood pressure.
The goats act as therapy animals, meaning they do not have official training in service, yet they use their charm to heal attendees. Several other animals walk the grounds of the field as well, greeting participants. The combination of yoga, nature, and animals is the key to keeping a constant demand for this class.
In terms of mental benefits, those who interact with goats during the yoga sessions relax easier, and their anxiety and loneliness levels lower. Actions such as petting the animals that live on the farm help improve one’s mood, for most find it difficult to be sad when a goat is lying on their yoga mat as they assume varied poses.
Although there are several locations to practice this form of yoga across the country, three of them are located in California. Shegoga farm in Penngrove, just north of the Bay Area, is an unofficial goat yoga farm. There are a couple more down in southern California, but the most popular location is in Oregon.
In most places, the goats are not trained to perform certain actions. Therefore, they may jump on the mats, on top of backs, or just simply snuggle up next to a person. Some guests have even had their mats peed on. An owner of an Oregon goat farm, Lainey Morse, told CNN, “The most fun part for me is watching people’s faces when a little goat comes up to them while they’re doing a yoga pose. It’s a distraction, but it’s a happy distraction.”
Morse founded this goat yoga practice when a yoga instructor attended a happy hour at her goat farm and recommended she combine the goats with a yoga class. She uses the goats to help her with Sjogren’s syndrome.
She said, “Goats don’t need a bond with a human. A stranger can walk in a barn, and a goat will come up to you and want to nuzzle you and be pet.”
For those interested in the Oregon class, each individual goat has a bio and classes take bookings online. Currently, the waiting list is hundreds of people due to the popular demand for goat yoga. She also holds wine tasting sessions in her vineyard after some goat yoga classes.
(Sources: Goat Yoga, CNN, USA Today, ABC News)