Goats and yoga? A fun-loving combination
Aug 29, 2019 12h10
By Amber Allen
During the goat yoga classes at the Gateway, students move carefully from one pose to the next while goats jump gleefully from person to person. (Amber Allen/City Journals)
By Amber Allen | [email protected]
Goats and yoga? An unlikely pairing to be sure, but one that works better together than it would seem. During the goat yoga classes at the Gateway, students move carefully from one pose to the next while goats jump gleefully from person to person. Goat yoga classes are happy events. Students squeal with delight when the goats interact with them. Those who are goatless wait impatiently for the cute farm animals to notice them.
Goat yoga has been a thing since 2017. Utah Goga offers a number of goat yoga classes in Utah. In fact, there’s usually one or two public classes a week. Derek and Randee Westover own Goga. The couple decided to start running goat yoga classes after they heard about Oregon resident Lainey Morse’s success with it.
Randee said, “We wanted to have goats as pets, and this was a good way to have them and keep them busy and entertained.” She also said that the goats, “love to climb,” and, “if anyone is in their pasture, then they jump all over them.”
At the beginning, Randee and Derek worked every class with the help of just one other person. They started with one class a week, which expanded into two and three or four a week — including private classes — due to demand. Last year, Utah Goga grew big enough to hire help. They now have several yoga instructors and wranglers.
Along with their starring role in goat yoga classes, the Goga goats moonlight as therapy animals in assisted living facilities across the valley. Called Helpful Hooves, residents enjoy cuddling and petting the people-loving goats.
Goga classes usually consist of 30 to 40 students and nine to 11 goats. Because Goga brings a large number of goats to each class, everyone has plenty of time to enjoy the animals, take pictures and experience the thrill of a baby goat gumming their hair or clothes.
Students practice yoga for 40 minutes. Then, Goga gives the yoga students 20 minutes to pose with the goats. They can also use this time to pet and snuggle them. It’s tempting to think that the goats are being forced into spending time with the humans, but once the students start showing up for class, the goats become excited. They love the challenge of leaping onto a yoga student’s shoulders or balancing at the top of a people pyramid. Once the students start leaving, the goats are ready to call it a day as well.
Goat yoga classes are animal therapy. Those who attend have the chance to interact with and pet animals that they normally wouldn’t see. These sessions are also a great introduction to yoga. The practice of yoga has a reputation of being for those who are slender and flexible. It can be intimidating for a new student to walk into a professional studio, one filled with people who know the names of every pose and who are able to twist themselves into complex versions.
Goat yoga eliminates that intimidation factor. The only expectation of a student in a goat yoga class is to spend time with the goats. In fact, if a goat is balancing on a student during class, the instructor will advise the student to focus on the goat and catch up with the class when the goat has moved over to someone else.
Goga bought seven goats to start goat yoga classes, and they still have most of the originals. A few have found homes with people that Randee and Derek trust to take care of them. When at home, the Goga goats get to play on their own jungle gym, and their favorite treat is cinnamon graham crackers and chips.