Health

Why the Goat Yoga Craze Is Sweeping America

Stretching, strengthening, and a few friendly barn animals roaming around — this is for real, folks

The practice of yoga is nothing new to the millions of people who lead active and healthy lifestyles. Downward Dog, Warrior III, Child’s Pose, and even a good old-fashioned headstand are poses practiced and perfected in gyms and studios across the country.

But goat yoga — really? Um, yes … Read on.

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Begun in Oregon in 2016, the now-nationwide fitness phenomenon involves the presence of miniature or baby goats that roam around while participants bend and stretch into all kinds of positions, usually outdoors.

Back to basics. Yoga is a total mind-body workout that encourages participants to connect their mind to their muscles while engaging in strengthening and stretching poses. The practice of yoga also focuses on deep breathing, relaxation, and meditation.

Physical benefits include increased flexibility, better muscle strength and tone, protection from injury, stronger circulatory health, improved energy and vitality, and improved athletic performance. Additionally, yoga has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and help with establishing a regular sleep pattern.

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But why goats? The hugely popular trend of using goats in yoga classes has taken off since last year. While seeing yogis in some pretty amazing poses is certainly awe-inspiring, it’s the goats who come in for a nuzzle, stand on a participant’s back, or even snuggle up in laps that has people flocking to the nearest outdoor studio to get in on some of the relaxation and fun, too.

How did this become so popular? Most fitness enthusiasts will say the beauty of yoga is that you can do it virtually anywhere. And for people who spend the majority of their time at an indoor yoga studio, the freedom of being outside and connected to nature is proving to be an experience like no other.

Participants say they love the feeling of being in the elements as well as the beauty of their surroundings. Many goat yoga classes take place on farms, both large and small, and are considered therapeutic and helpful for relieving daily stress.

For animal lovers, it’s the combination of the outdoors, interacting with the goats, and getting in a little yoga that has them coming back for more. The classes also seem to appeal to newbies who may be intimidated by the seriousness of a traditional yoga class.

After all, how can you not smile and giggle a bit when a goat is kissing your feet?

Lainey Morse, considered the founder of goat yoga in the U.S., holds sessions at the Hanson Country Inn in Corvallis, Oregon, as USA Today reported. She decided to use goats instead of puppies or kittens in her yoga sessions because they seemed like “perfect therapy animals.”

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“They’re not as intimidating and big as horses. And dogs — what if you’re allergic or if they don’t bond with you or if they’re too shy?” she told The Associated Press. “Goats don’t care; they just want you to pet them. They have this sense of calm, and they kind of go into a meditative state. Maybe that’s why they work so well with yoga.”

So the next time you’re grumbling about not wanting to work out, try heading to your local goat farm or the closest equivalent for a little pick-me-up — and probably a few smiles, too.

Sara Hermanson is a freelance writer in Washington State whose focus is health, wellness, fitness and parenting.

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