Most yoga classes start with a call to center your focus within the four corners of your mat. To let go of anything off the mat that isn’t serving you, and to turn your attention inwards. It turns out, that proves to be difficult when there’s a baby goat nibbling on your hair, and another perched on your neighbor’s back. In this edition of the Wellness Report, Jenn Rose tried the trending yoga practice known as goat yoga with Austin’s NAAAH-Maste Goat Yoga.
Unlike many wellness practices, this one doesn’t date back decades or even centuries. It originated in 2016 on the Oregon goat farm of Lainey Morse, and quickly spread – thanks in large part to social media – across the country.
As I watched would-be yogis, unable to resist the temptation to pull out their phones and take selfies, 100% distracted by the goats, I found myself questioning this wellness practice. Isn’t the point of yoga to quiet the mind and observe your breath and body? None of that was happening here. But the benefits of goat yoga soon became clear to me.
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Giggles, like the contagious kind when you were in middle school and you and your best friend could not stop laughing, that’s what this class sounded like. “If a goat pees or poops on your mat, wave us down and we’ll wipe it off,” the yoga teacher instructed. More giggles. A goat ate part of my shoe, and I didn’t even care. As far as I know, there have been no studies done on the effects of goat yoga, but Morse likens it to animal assisted therapy, which has well documented benefits for our health and wellbeing.
New Jersey goat yoga instructor Alison Levine told USA Today “goat yoga is all about letting everything go awry.” Sure, it may be distracting, but “(goat yoga) is a healthy, happy distraction. It’s all about how do we sit with the distraction, and how can we bring more joy and play into our lives?”
“It was distracting that the goats were there,” Jenn Rose said after the class, “but also somehow relaxing. It just made everything seem less serious! There’s just something about being with a group of strangers and laughing, it’s very therapeutic and relaxing.” If you need a dose of joy, play and happy distractions in your life, you may want to check out Morse’s latest venture: The Goatel. This weekend retreat launches in Summer 2018 and already has a waitlist, so you’ll need to book ahead.
Watch the video to see Jenn Rose (and more importantly the baby goats) and be sure to let us know in the comments what we should try next!