If you spend time with animals, you may already have noticed the health benefits. Animals have a tremendous mental and physical effect on us, studies showed. Yoga also offers physical and mental health benefits for individuals of all ages, reported Johns Hopkins University. Goat yoga is a way of perfectly combining animals, yoga, and nature.
Goat yoga is essentially a typical yoga class; however, baby goats are roaming around! The goats are free to wander and occasionally end up on your mat or your back while in a Child’s posture. Commonly, its practice happens on a farm, a gated field, or a barn, so there’s enough space for both the yogis and the goats.
During a goat yoga class, a yoga teacher guides the class just as she usually would, except a few goats have free rein to come, lick you and climb on top of you during your practice. It is a great way to expand traditional yoga’s health benefits by adding another form of therapy into the mix – pet therapy.
Read on to discover how goat yoga benefits you while a baby goat is jumping and running around you. What is goat yoga and its origins? How to get ready for your first class of goat yoga? What are the benefits of goat yoga? And is goat yoga bad?
Also see: How To Get Good at Yoga Faster?
Table of Contents
What Is Goat Yoga
Goat yoga is a yoga session where goats wander freely during a yoga class practice, rubbing against, nuzzling, and even climbing on top of students. It’s truly a form of animal-assisted therapy similar to therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with special needs. The goats’ presence and interaction calm people down and enhance their mood, positively impacting and complementing yoga’s therapeutic effects.
Goat yoga is like animal-assisted therapy in a natural setting with profoundly cuddly animals.
What makes goats good therapy animals is they 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.
Goat yoga will be different for different people. The definition of goat yoga depends on people; some describe it as “calm,” “therapy,” “zen,” and just plain “happiness.”
one of the common definitions is ” unexpected.” Unexpected certainly describes our path to Goat Yoga.
Goat yoga started as a birthday party on a summer day in 2016 and quickly grew into a global sensation, with classes and practices springing up worldwide.
One reason for its global success is goat yoga is animal-assisted therapy in a natural setting with an unexpectedly (there’s that word again) smart, social, and profoundly cuddly animal. It is an incredible distraction from day-to-day life, like politics, work, stress, sickness, or depression.
Goat Yoga Origins
The idea came to Lainey Morse, the creator of Goat Yoga, not through science but her own experience. Before starting goat yoga, Morse lived with a herd of Nigerian dwarf and Boer goats (most are rescue goats) at No Regrets Farm in Oregon in the United States.
At the time, she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease, and she noticed that spending time with her goats helped her feel better afterward. Though Morse doesn’t claim that interacting with goats cures Sjogren’s or any other disease, it did enhance her mood.
So Morse organized a few goat-interaction events for people to see if being with goats had the same impact on different people. She offered Goat Therapy, in which participants spent time with goats, and Goat Happy Hour, in which participants relaxed with goats while enjoying a glass of wine. Both events were successful. All the participants enjoyed spending time with the goats, and the experience appeared to have the same positive and calming effect on everyone.
One day, when Morse was organizing a kids’ birthday party with the goats, Heather Davis, one of the moms, a yoga teacher, asked if she could hold a class in Morse’s beautiful place. Morse replied yes; however, the mom told her the goats would also have to join in. Like the other goat-interaction events Morse had been hosting, it was a great success, and that is how the Goat Yoga was born.
Heather’s request to hold a yoga class on Lainey’s farm became the world’s first goat yoga event on a beautiful summer day in August 2016.
What Are The Benefits of Goat Yoga
If you have been practicing yoga, you might know that yoga can make us feel good. Studies showed that yoga practice had tremendous benefits, including improved flexibility and strength, lowered stress hormone levels, and enhanced respiratory, cardio, and circulatory health.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Animals Are Plentiful
There is a strong correlation between time spent around animals and improved mental health, showed science.
The physical effect of stroking a friendly, fuzzy animal can have a positive emotional impact. The sensation is an excellent trigger for releasing oxytocin in our brains, making us happier. In other words, caressing a dog, cat, bunny, or goat helps your brain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies revealed that the bond between people and pets can:
- Lower stress
- Bring happiness to their owners.
- Lowered blood pressure
- Decrease cholesterol levels
- Decrease triglyceride levels
- Decrease feelings of loneliness
- Increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Increase opportunities for socialization
Goats are the perfect therapy animals because they don’t need to develop a special bond with humans before interacting with them. In other words, baby and adult goats will just come up to a stranger asking to be a pet.
A study showed that goats recognize human emotions, and their faces represent those emotions.
Goats don’t need a special bond with a person. A stranger can walk in a barn, and a goat will come up to you and want to nuzzle you and be pet. Goats are the perfect therapy animal.
1- Goat Yoga Helps You Relax
Imagine you are trying to maintain a plank position and feel a couple of baby goats jump up onto your back. Isn’t that relaxing?
Goat yoga gets you out of your head, disconnects you from your day-to-day stress, sickness, or depression, and focuses on positive and happy vibes.
Compared to goat-free yoga environments where silence and focus are prioritized, goat yoga classes won’t allow you the same freedom to concentrate on your anxieties but rather push you into spending a hilarious, weirdly calming, and relaxing time.
It’s almost impossible to be sad and depressed when baby goats are jumping around.
A 2010 study examined the effect on the anxiety of petting an animal with 58 non-clinical participants. The researchers created a stressful situation for the participants; they asked them to hold a Tarantula spider – and then randomly assigned them to one of five groups: petting a rabbit, a turtle, a toy rabbit, a toy turtle, or to a control group. They measured participants’ attitudes towards animals and found that petting an animal reduced state anxiety.
2- Goat Yoga is More Interactive than Regular Yoga
Most yoga classes keep the environment silent and focused. And usually, students do not have as much interaction with one another. However, with goat yoga, students interact with the other students and the cute baby goats with them.
Goat yoga removes the staleness of regular yoga practice and encourages interaction.
3- Goat Yoga Keeps you Calm
The silence during regular yoga practice can increase frustration and anxiety, especially when doing challenging poses. However, with goat yoga, students focus instead on the thrill of the goats sitting on their backs, walking underneath them. It keeps the whole environment light, fun, and calm.
A 2012 study observed that animal-assisted therapy had been repeatedly shown to improve feelings of health and well-being.
4- Goat Yoga May Decrease Blood Pressure
Studies reveal that people become calmer when there are friendly animals around. You can see pet-friendly and cute goats during goat yoga practice. During your class, you can stop and pet a nuzzling goat.
Another study showed that animal-assisted intervention might improve blood pressure, heart rate, depression, anxiety, quality of health, and loneliness.
5- Goat Yoga Enhances Your Yoga Routine
Goats’ presence keeps the mind calm, and the body relaxed, improving the whole workout routine.
During a yoga class, students exert more effort and energy to maintain the pose with a goat on their back. It also adds more difficulty to the pose. It improves strength, endurance, and cardio capacity.
6- Goat Yoga Helps with Fibromyalgia
About 4 million people in the United States, or about 2 % of the American population, have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia, also referred to as widespread pain, is a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. Individuals with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia.
A study suggested 8-week Yoga of Awareness intervention may be useful for improving symptoms, functional deficits, and coping abilities in fibromyalgia. However, not all yoga poses are helpful; gentle stretches ease the musculoskeletal pain associated with this disorder.
Even though no scholarly studies support the benefits of goat yoga, goat yoga is similar to laughter yoga.
During goat yoga practice, people interact with goats roaming around, and participants find comfort and relaxation through laughter.
Studies reveal that the simple act of laughing during yoga brings peace and ease. Research reveals that the simple act of laughing boosts endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical which helps lower physical pain. We all feel better after a good laugh.
Make sure you discuss this with your chiropractor or other healthcare providers before starting any physical exercise plan while suffering from fibromyalgia.
7- Goat Yoga Helps Fight Depression
Goats roaming around your mat during practice will help you relax and calm as you move through poses.
A small study showed that animals are great emotional supporters. Being surrounded by and playing with an animal has a strong positive therapeutic effect.
The researchers observed that pet ownership positively affects mental health by promoting emotional connectivity and helping people manage crises.
Being in contact with goats may relax you and help you fight depression.
Physical and emotional connection with goats may stimulate relaxation responses in our brains. The impulse flows throughout your whole body, reducing your anxiety and depression.
It is difficult not to smile and relax when a goat lingers on your mat. Combining nature and exercise has therapeutic benefits.
8- Goat Yoga May Help you Develop Focus and Self-Discipline.
Goat yoga has numerous benefits; it may help you develop focus and self-discipline. The goats will help you focus on the present moment, which is fundamental to your yoga practice.
When practicing yoga, you place your attention on every movement of your body and mind. With animals walking around, you will focus on your practice and play with them. You are doing two activities in one: practicing yoga and bonding with the goats.
You will never know what the goats will do or where they are coming from, which will keep you focused and disciplined.
9- Great Experience for Kids to Interact with Animals
Nowadays, most kids have never seen live animals except on TV or the internet. Goat Yoga is excellent for helping kids discover and interact with animals.
In 2018, Albert Einstein High School in Maryland, United States, brought in 10 goats for students to pet as a means to cope with the stress of standardized tests.
Practicing goat yoga is a great way to help your kids develop a love of animals, nature, yoga, and a healthy lifestyle.
The goats sometimes choose to approach individual participants, which makes the kid feel special and may develop a sense of responsibility.
10- Goat Yoga Will Make You Stronger
In addition to stress release, goat yoga will make you stronger. Baby goats can help you correct your yoga poses and maintain balance while they stay on top of your back. For example, while in a tabletop pose, let the baby goat pat you to help you maintain a proper position.
Yoga is an excellent way to exercise and build strength, especially when you practice with animals. There are particular poses, such as asana, that develop muscles.
Regular training will help you lose weight and form strength. When you combine yoga with daily exercises and jogging, you quickly reap the benefits of goat yoga.
11- Goat Yoga Help You Sleep Better
Practicing yoga helps reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep.
55% of people who did yoga found it helped them sleep better. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress, according to a survey in the United States.
12- Goat Yoga Can Be a Source of Laughter
Wouldn’t that make you giggle? It will surely take your mind off yoga. Laughter is a wonderful way to relieve stress and anxiety.
A study observed a positive effect of laughter therapy on the immune system. Laughter reverses the stress response with lowered levels of cortisol. Furthermore, it can alter dopamine and serotonin activity, making it an excellent form of stress relief.
Is Goat Yoga Real
Goat yoga is one of those things that may sound like a joke at first. However, goat yoga is real. For instance, while your yoga teacher leads the class through various poses, the baby goats nuzzle the students and nibble on their clothes and belongings. The goats might poop and pee on your yoga mat during practice.
Whether goat yoga is real or not, I recommend you get out of your comfort zone and try a goat yoga class. You may find that something that falls outside your definition of “yoga” is still worth experiencing. It is possible that you will joy in the unexpected.
Is Goat Yoga Bad
Goat yoga’s original idea is genuinely good; however, there have been a few incidents in that goat yoga organizers harm the animals. For instance, a baby goat has had its horns removed for the goats’ safety so they don’t impale one another.
In 2018, according to The Daily Mail, an Australian petting zoo that provides baby goats for “goat yoga” events faced ten cruelty charges after some of its animals became dehydrated and malnourished and developed diarrhea and infections.
These types of abuse go against one of the basic principles of yoga: ahimsa, doing no harm. Before joining a goat yoga class, I suggest you do your research and ensure the animals are safe and not harmed. And most of all, do not go to a goat yoga for Instagram or social media photos.
Seven Things to Keep in Mind Before Your First Goat Yoga
- Choose a yoga studio that puts the goats’ welfare first and treats them well.
- For people with long hair, don’t forget to tie your hair. Leaving your hair open can lead to damage, which, if swallowed, can choke the goat babies. They are unique and curious animals and will try to chew everything they find intriguing, including hair.
- Wear comfortable workout clothes: Don’t forget to wash them thoroughly after your classes. Baby goats are affectionate. When you pet them, they will return the favor by licking your clothes, feet, face, entire body, and everywhere they can.
- Do not bring food from home for the goat, as baby goats, the consumption of human food might upset their little stomachs. Ask your class organizer if you could feed them and what food to give them. Usually, newborn goats wouldn’t be allowed anything except their mother’s milk. The grown goats might be allowed to eat a few goodies recommended by the organizer.
- Consider wearing clothes and bringing a mat that you don’t mind getting a little dirty and muddy. If your goat yoga class is outside, don’t forget to check the weather to see if you will need a jacket or sunscreen.
- Have an open mind and be prepared to have baby goats snuggle beside you, nibble on your hair, climb on your back, poop near you, make adorable sounds, and, most of all, melt your heart.
- Pick your class carefully. Baby goats are adorable, and any activity can be fun and relaxing. However, when goats get older and heavier, their little hooves can be painful when they jump on you.
Goat yoga is an excellent way to discover new things and branch out of your norm. It will be like tasting new food and exploring new territory. If it turns out it is not for you, you were outside in the fresh air with baby goats and will have a great story to tell your friends and family or share on social media.
While it might not typically consider “yoga,” with an open-mind approach, you will experience laughter and get out of your head.
Many have tried it and have found it an incredible and life-changing experience; it can do the same for you. Engage in therapeutic animal mental health yoga now, experience an extraordinary change in your life, and enjoy the benefits of goat yoga.