There's Vinyasa yoga, there's Bikram yoga, there's hot yoga––the list goes on and on. The most intriguing yoga class that I've experienced, however, didn't just incorporate mind and body awareness, it incorporated live animals.
I'm talking about goat yoga.
I know what you're thinking. Yes, you read correctly.
For an hour and 15 minutes, I participated in a yoga practice with about 20-25 others with a herd of bleating goats gambling about at our feet.
Whether or not you've heard of this new fitness trend - surely about to sweep the globe - you might have some questions about it, such as, "How on earth could you pay attention with a bunch of goats running around while you're standing on one foot?"
Much in the same way that humans can alleviate stress through bonding with pets like dogs and cats, the principal idea behind the practice was to bring people and animals together to gain both physical and emotional benefits. Instead of walking your dog, though, you're petting a goat while you're upside down––same kind of idea, just a little more out of the box. And who doesn't want to get a workout in while playing with happy little goats?
Apart from my new furry friends, a tenet of goat yoga that I found to be incredibly therapeutic was the increased attention to sensory details. There's a lot going on around you in goat yoga. Not only are you trying to focus on your form and breath, but you're trying to do so while people laugh and snap pictures, goats run wild and nudge you affectionately and the sights and sounds of nature permeate your senses. It's a lot of fun, but it is a lot to take in––I really had to consciously cultivate a sense of quiet and focus within myself, something that is a lot simpler to do in a conventional yoga studio. Goat yoga presented both physical and mental challenges that I wouldn't have encountered in a regular class.
A large part of the challenge was the unpredictability. You could be in one position and suddenly have a goat in your face or knocking into your leg, throwing you off your balance. And then there's always the possibility of a goat relieving himself on your yoga mat, like what happened to me at the end of the class.
While these things had the potential to be very frustrating, I found that it presented a very real comparison to dealing with the stressors of daily life. You can get upset and angry when life throws you curveballs (or goat poop), or you can take a deep breath, laugh it off and keep pushing through.
Depending on where you live, you may have more opportunities to partake in this unique experience. Big city-dwellers might have a tougher time finding one close, but I was able to find one at a family-owned farm 20 minutes from my house in the Buffalo, NY suburbs. The price was a reasonable $20 and included a cup of feed to give to the goats!
Even with my mat being pooped upon (I cleaned it just fine with wipes after!), I still had a wonderful time at goat yoga and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new kind of engaging workout––and it makes a great photo op!
So bring some water, a yoga mat and a sense of humor, and go out and get your goat yoga on.
For more tips on healthy eating and fitness, we recommend these articles: The Benefits of Meal Planning, Get Fit in the Gym, Lose Weight in the Kitchen, Common Fitness Myths, It's Not About Getting Skinny.
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About Megan Tomaszewski
Megan is a freelance contributor for G&G Fitness. With a bachelor’s degree in Communication: Journalism & Media from SUNY Geneseo, she is a former staff member of The Buffalo News affiliate The Hamburg Sun, and currently works as a marketing writer at Barclay Damon LLP. Megan is a fan of pilates, weight lifting, and yoga, and has a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with cardio. Her secret for powering through tough workouts is imagining she’s in training to be an Avenger. In her free time, Megan loves listening to podcasts, reading, spending time outside, and watching Say Yes to the Dress. If you have an article you'd like to share on the LiveFit Blog, contact us.