“What the hell is goat yoga?” I was surrounded by a group of incredulous and incredibly curious attorneys. Word had gotten out at the conference I was working that the crazy photographer was doing goat yoga for her birthday, and questions abounded from this group of sweet, inquisitive men in suits.
“It’s yoga, but with baby goats,” I explained. An extended pause from the attorneys followed.
“Yep.” I was secretly enjoying this interrogation, to be honest.
Ok, first of all: If you’ve ever met a baby goat, with their tiny delicate noses and velvety ears, you’d bypass that “why” question altogether. If you HAVEN’T met a baby goat, this post is for you.
Baby goats, aka kids, are adorable. They’re goofy, they’re curious, they have massive personal space issues. I know this because I’ve spent some time out at Burden Creek Dairy lately. (There will be an upcoming post on the goat farm and goat cheese process later this month.)
So what is goat yoga? It’s a yoga class taught amidst a group of curious baby goats, and it’s amazing. Goat yoga is a fully interactive and unpredictable experience, and now it has come to Charleston.
If somehow the words “baby goats” and “yoga” still aren’t enough to explain that “Why?” to you, keep reading. Already on board? You’ll find some helpful tips for your first goat yoga class below!
You'll Go Outside
This is, to me, the most important aspect of goat yoga. While I’ve seen on the internet that there are indoor goat yoga classes, don’t cheat yourself. My goat yoga class with Burden Creek Dairy was right there on the farm. There was a goose sitting on eggs behind us, a farm puppy that kept rolling on people’s mats, and the mama goats were actually lined up along the fence watching us. (Is it weird that I’m 90% sure one of those goats was judging my downward dog as she skeptically as she chewed her cud? Mmmmhmmm. I see you, judging lady goat.)
“You’re in NATURE. And it is BEAUTIFUL,” our goat yoga instructor yelled out at the beginning of the class. Listening to the bleating sounds of the goats and chirping birds and hearing the wind whistle through the trees? WAY BETTER than canned nature sounds at your local overpriced studio/spa. Ain’t nothing like the real thing.
Finally, to drive home why this is so important, I highly recommend you watch the video below on the “Indoor Generation.” A recent report backed by data from international research firm YouGov and detailed in this USA Today article includes the following sobering statistics:
90% of our lives are spent indoors.
Indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoor air.
A whopping 25% of Americans spend all day inside.
Living in damp and moldy homes increases the risk of asthma by 40%.
You'll Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
If frolicking with baby goats is a usual part of your daily routine, please be my guru. You are living your best life, and I have nothing more to offer you.
If you’re EVERYONE ELSE, remember that getting outside your comfort zone is really good for you mentally and emotionally. While the idea of using your activewear to get active outside might be entirely foreign to most of us (I wear mine to the farmers markets, does that count?), going outside your comfort zone can put you in a state of optimal anxiety, which can increase productivity, help you conquer setbacks, allow you to harness creativity, and make other adventurous experiences easier, according to this Lifehacker article.
Like those attorneys with All Of The Questions, goat yoga was for sure out of my comfort zone. In fact, yoga is slightly out of my comfort zone. I once did a yoga class where my friend Vikki’s cat - who was apparently bottle fed for way too long, if you ask me - began aggressively suckling my finger. Put me off of the whole “yoga” thing for several years.
I was really excited, slightly uncomfortable, and a tiny bit nervous as I pulled into the drive for my goat yoga class, but the moment I saw the baby goats I was so happy to have this new experience.
You'll Meet Some Animals
Though accurately cataloging the number of land animal species is notoriously challenging and complicated, there are an estimated 7.7 land animal species on planet earth (numbers vary widely between sources).
How many have you spent time with lately? Three? Humans, your dog, your cat? If you've gotten really crazy, you might have killed a roach or scared a squirrel this week.
Does that sound healthy? Or normal? Or does it sound like we spend the majority of our days in a barren wasteland lacking biodiversity ?
Part of humanity's issue, in my opinion, with living in harmony with our planet is that we've completely lost touch with its other beautiful inhabitants. I discovered this when I posted about my bee garden, and got so many honest and anxious questions.
Goats are awesome, non-threatening, and beautiful animals. It's time to make their acquaintance, y'all.
You'll Laugh Til It Hurts
I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much, honestly. Between the baby goats running through your legs during Warrior II or stubbornly deciding to nap under your downward dog or nibble at your tank top, it is a hilarious, unpredictable good time. (And unpredictable is good for all of us, I think.)
Laughter and being in the moment was strongly encouraged during our yoga class, and cuddle breaks and baby goat snacks abounded. I don't know about strengthening my core, but I know everything about this was good for my soul.
They're just goats being goats, and it's impossible to take yourself seriously while they're frolicking and romping around playing. I spent the entire class in a fit of giggles with my friend Hollyann, and I've decided we all need to live our lives a little more like baby goats!
Also, mad props to the guy four mats down for loudly bleating "Baaah-aaah-aaah" throughout the class when our instructor said "downward dog". Whoever you are, I salute you, sir. I laughed so hard I cried.
You'll Connect To Other People
Goat yogis are an awesome crowd, and I honestly cannot think of a better way to connect to new people than stepping outside your comfort zone in such a sweet, unusual way.
Whether you're looking to make friends in a new town, meet your farmer, or simply share a good laugh with a field full of strangers (again, thank you bleating goat man), this is your go-to.
Tips For Your First Goat Yoga
Remember you're dealing with animals just being, well, animals. They may poop. They may not be interested in you at first. They may nibble your clothes or not want to be picked up. Relax and take in the situation. Our hosts led the goats to us with tasty snacks to help them get comfortable and acclimated.
Is your class outside? Awesome! Check the weather and dress appropriately. Do you need bug spray? Sunscreen? Did you pack your water?
There will probably be dirt. It's ok. It's good for you. Prepare to wash your mat afterward.
Bring a friend! This is one of those experiences you'll be so happy you shared!
The goats may climb on you, but don't expect them to. While some of the baby goats were interested in gaining some altitude, many of the photos you see are posed. They will absolutely walk over and under you and through your legs, however!
Be open-minded and have a good attitude. If you're looking to get the most out of your workout, this is probably not the class for you. If you're looking to experience something new and laugh a lot, this is the class for you. If you don't like to sweat, are afraid of bugs, don't like dirt, that's ok. You'll be outside your comfort zone, and that's a beautiful thing.
And finally, my favorite part of goat yoga was that the tiny boy goat, Jacob, would not stop trying to follow me to my car. Someone finally had to grab and distract him, but I just melted. So sweet!
Will I see you at the next goat yoga, Charleston? I'll probably be wearing the goat pants below, if so.
Don't judge me!
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