When I found myself downward dogging in a pen of baby goats that enthusiastically alternated between nibbling on my T-shirt and jumping on my back, I could have claimed I was doing it in the name of sustainable land management — but that wouldn’t quite be true. In reality, I found myself in such a barnyard predicament in the name of fitness — at my first “goat yoga” class, along with my college friend and our teenage daughters. I mention our college history to bring up the longevity of our friendship, but also because, since college, she’s always been the one who knows about things like goat yoga. So, when she proposed this one, I knew she must be onto something. And she was right — after our session, we all agreed that, thanks to our constant laughter, this was the best ab workout we’d had in years.
YoGoats! Yoga and Baby Goats is an ongoing fundraiser for City Grazing, a company that rents goat herds to landowners to clean out unwanted brush. It’s one of a handful of similar companies nationwide including Livestock for Landscapes in Arizona, Goats on the Go in Iowa, and Rent a Ruminant in Seattle, with the latter two offering franchise opportunities. Of course Amazon is now in the game, too. The concept seems so simple: Use nature (aka goats) to clean up and then fertilize your land — especially convenient if you have acres and acres of land that need to be managed.
So how exactly does the yoga fit into all of this? The money raised ($30 a person per class) goes toward rearing the cutie pies into not-as-cute, active grazing ruminants. The sessions take place during the spring and summer, depending on the supply of, you guessed it, baby goats.
Intrigued? You should be! Baby goats will take you from zero to zen in no time. How can you not just giggle and let loose when you’re surrounded by nature and adorable animals? Animal therapy offers a wide range of benefits, too, from reducing blood pressure to increasing mental stimulation.
But, before you head out expecting to get the ultimate dose of om while communing with nature, make sure you read the fine print:
Please think of this more as an opportunity to spend time with goats and not an intense and focused yoga class; all levels are welcome. Please note that the environment where we will be practicing yoga is rugged, industrial, and frequented by our four-legged friends. Your mats will be on rubber stall flooring and straw. We’ll have a port-a-potty available, but there are no restrooms or changing facilities on the premises.
Ready to get your goat on? Here are a few practical tips.
1. Try not to bring anything into the pen. I brought Ugg boots, a jacket, and wallet — all proved to be highly enticing to the goats.
2. Bring an old towel to put over the provided yoga mats. We brought nice towels, and there is a good possibility that they could get dirty. Pee and poo happens — it’s rare, but possible.
3. If you want a lot of attention, use scented lotion or put product in your hair — this seems to drive them wild.
4. Relax when a goat jumps on you. They weigh nothing and are just looking for a new perspective.
Read more about Genevieve Church, the head vet for City Grazing, who says, “Goats are the punks of the animal world.”
Can’t get enough of the goat yoga trend? Make your next stop Goat Yoga in Corvallis, Oregon, where it all started. Here, you can pair your goat yoga session with a wine tasting.
Mimi Towle is a Marin-based writer and editor. Currently the editor of Marin Magazine, she enjoys the various perks of her job, which include meeting chefs, winemakers, and inspiring characters. As a volunteer philanthropic advisor for the EACH Foundation, she focuses on needs in her home state of Hawaii. Some of her favorite nonprofits include City Beat, Hawaii Land Trust, and University of Hawaii Cancer Center.