These days, there are a million different types of yoga out there. Paddleboard yoga, aerial yoga, laughing yoga, cannabis yoga. Now you can add goat yoga to the list.
No, not ‘greatest of all time’ yoga. Tom Brady isn’t moonlighting as a yoga instructor on the weekends. Goat yoga as in those adorable little farm creatures.
I recently had the pleasure to check out this fad first hand up in Big Bear Lake, California.
Things to Know Ahead of Time
Now, this is not a type of yoga that you would practice regularly. I don’t think anybody is taking a goat yoga class every Tuesday and Thursday night. This also is not a class that is going to promise rock hard abs or to increase your endurance levels. You do not need to be a yoga expert by any means, this is approachable to practitioners of all levels.
This is what you may consider a type of tourism yoga. There’s a novelty component to it. It is a workout, there is a flow that gets your heart rate up. But this is really about the goats and the instagramability of the experience.
Where I Went to Check it Out
Bear Valley Farms is a working farm set on 30 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest. Not only are there goats, but there are pigs, horses, cows, alpacas. On the weekends they host a petting zoo, there’s a bounce house. It’s a very charming location.
“We love our goats at Bear Valley Farms and we wanted a special way to share them with others. Goat Yoga seemed like a natural fit. It’s caught on really quickly and our guests – whether they are yoga first-timers or expert practitioners – all seem to love it. There’s natural joy about goats that aligns so perfectly with yoga.” Briana Mackey, the manager of Bear Valley Farms told me.
What to Expect When You Get There
People were excited when I arrived at Bear Valley Farms. There was a lot of giddiness happening at the entrance. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in the mountains and we were about to hang out with goats!
After check-in, everyone was escorted to the goat enclosure which doubled as an outdoor yoga pen. They had mats to borrow, which I would definitely recommend. To ensure all our belongings didn’t become a goat snack, we tucked our purses and bags in a side room.
Before class began the owner of the farm gave us the 411 on what we were about to embark on; a light 45-minute flow which would include, if we were physically able, goats on our backs when appropriate.
There were momma goats and baby goats. And they were stinking cute. Word of warning though, hang on to any hats or sunglasses because these guys will try to eat anything that is around.
For the most part the goats just sort of meandered through the class, curious to sniff our faces or investigate our toes. When table top or plank poses presented themselves in the flow, those little baby goats would be placed on our backs and the staff promptly snapped pictures.
When the class was over, everyone was encouraged to spend some quality one on one time with the goats or get a picture with them if they hadn’t already. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Being outside, in the great outdoors of Big Bear Lake on a quiet secluded farm certainly lent itself to the authenticity of the experience.
Why You Should Give it a Try
The class itself, obviously, is about the goats and not so much about the yoga. I’d say it’s probably a 60/40 split of goat to yoga. The experience is something so outside of the realm of a normal yoga practice it makes it something quirky and novel.
Between the animals and the setting, it was a really cool way to spend a weekend morning. It is also a very visual experience, so Instagram and hashtag-worthy it is definitely speaking to the millennial demographic. I imagine if you throw in brunch and some mimosas, this whole idea could really go next level.
Now, to the traditional yogi, this idea may seem ridiculous. However, I think that it is simply introducing the practice to a broader audience. A typical yoga studio can seem intimidating to a yoga novice, while a Downward Dog with some baby goats is a whole lot more approachable. There’s no judgement when there’s a goat on your back.
Tips for Flowing with the Goats
Borrow a mat from the host. If available at the facility or farm that you are taking a goat yoga class, I would highly recommend using one of their mats. Or bring an older mat that you don’t mind getting dirty. It will get dirty.
Bring hand sanitizer. Along the same lines as the tip above, space can get dirty. After all, there are farm animals walking around. Bringing some Purell will definitely come in handy if there is no sink to wash your hands after class.
Be mindful of your belongings. Don’t bring anything into the yoga space that is fragile or could be gobbled up by a goat. There are little hoofs clomping around.
Practice non-judgement. This experience will be unlike any other yoga class, bring an open mind.
Go with a friend. It’s more fun to share these moments with a buddy. Besides, you need someone to snap those picture for you!
Of course, who is to say if this concept will be just a flash in the pan or if it is here for the long haul. After experiencing a goat yoga class up close and personal, I would encourage anyone to check it out. It’s fun and light-hearted. There is room for everyone in the yoga community, maybe even goats!