Animal lover? Chances are you’re well aware of the goat yoga craze currently taking the nation by storm. From Chicago to Palm Bay, Florida, goat yoga classes are selling out. Since goat yoga first appeared in 2016, the trend has spread to Canada, the Netherlands, and Britain.
But the farm-friendly fitness concept was born—where else?—in Oregon. The idea is simple, yet revolutionary: a yoga instructor leads a group of participants through a series of asanas while miniature goats amble around.
The goats are free to roam, nibble, and even get up-close-and-personal with participants—some get involved, jumping on participants’ backs or going in for a cuddle, while others simply observe. If you’re wondering what it’s like to have a small goat hop on your back while you’re in downward dog, this picture can give you an idea:
The concept, which was the brainchild of freelance photographer-turned-farm owner Lainey Morse, combines the health and wellness benefits of both animal therapy and yoga. According to Morse, the idea was born out of the realization that goats are extremely “peaceful” creatures. Says Morse of her farm, “Everyone who comes over leaves stress-free and happy.”
Morse hosted her first goat yoga sessions last summer, and quickly realized their potential. The interactive yoga classes were a hit with attendees. She says the goats’ habit of chewing their cud is a nice complement to the meditative state yogis seek.
After that first class, goat yoga took off. Soon, classes were being offered on farms across the United States. Not surprisingly, the pastime has attracted more than a few celebrities—among them Rebecca Romjin—as well as the attention of major news publications, namely the New York Times. In other words, everyone’s talking about it, not just the “kids.”
Morse’s classes aren’t merely popular; they’ve started a craze. At one point, Morse recalls a class with a 2,400-person waitlist. Now that the trend has taken off, goat yoga is offered all across Oregon. At $30 for a one-hour session, it’s pricier than the regular kind of yoga, which costs, on average between $10 and $20 for 90 minutes. But goats are provided.
Yoga studios, goat owners, and farmers were quick to take note of the trend. Some studios offer indoor classes or barn-based classes, while others offer offsite classes on neighboring farms.
Participants say that goat yoga is more “chaotic” than you’d expect. Whereas non-goat yoga classes are focused on mindfulness and breathing, pretty much anything can happen at a goat yoga class. For one, a goat might just pee on your mat.
Morse thinks goats and yoga were a good match because goats aren’t as intimidating as larger farm animals, like horses and cows. But why not something cuter—like puppies or kittens? According to Morse, goats aren’t as finicky as cats and dogs. “[They] don’t care,” she told Modern Farmer magazine.
Other participants say that the goats bring a playful, light-hearted energy to the class. In Amsterdam, goat yogi Brenda Bood adds that goats seem to be “contact-minded,” making it more fun for participants. Others say that goat yoga allows them to connect with their bodies and nature at the same time. Forget hot yoga—goat yoga is a win-win.