Grate­ful for the goats

It’s the lat­est fit­ness craze: do­ing yoga with goats.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living -

ADONNA Ebrahimi is stretched out on her yoga mat, strug­gling to main­tain a co­bra pose – and her com­po­sure – as a cou­ple of baby goats do a bal­anc­ing act on her back.

Wel­come to “Goat Yoga,” the lat­est fit­ness craze sweep­ing the United States, where young and old are lin­ing up for the pop­u­lar classes that leave par­tic­i­pants not only say­ing “na­maste” but also in stitches.

The new work­outs tak­ing place on farms across Amer­ica in­volve Nige­rian dwarf goats – minia­ture goats of West African ori­gin – roam­ing about as yo­gis prac­tice their ex­er­cise rou­tines.

“At first, it was a bit scary be­cause I didn’t know the goats were go­ing to jump on my back,” Ebrahimi, 53, says on a re­cent af­ter­noon after com­plet­ing her first “goat yoga” class out­side Los An­ge­les.

“But then they were there and you felt the warmth of the an­i­mal and you’re on the straw, in the sun, with the trees and the blue skies around you, and it just felt so calm­ing and peace­ful.”

Some 20 peo­ple and 15 goats – 11 kids and four mums – took part in the class that was or­gan­ised out­doors in a pen cov­ered with straw.

As yoga in­struc­tor Meridith Lana encouraged par­tic­i­pants to “ex­hale”, “pull your navel to your spine” or “watch your pos­ture”, the sound of bleat­ing re­ver­ber­ated in the back­ground, the nim­ble an­i­mals skip­ping about, jump­ing on peo­ple’s backs, munch­ing on their hair or a beard and lick­ing their faces.

A few also an­swered the call of na­ture.

“They’re adorable and they’re friendly,” says Lana after the class. “They do eat your hair, they do leave you presents on your mat but it’s all in fun.

“The ther­apy you get here is price­less.”

Danette McReynolds, whose fam­ily owns the goats, says she de­cided to host the classes to raise money for her 16-year-old daugh­ter and a friend who are plan­ning to show­case the an­i­mals at a farm show later in the year.

“We didn’t know how it was go­ing to go but it’s taken off, we’re booked solid,” she says.

“Peo­ple love it. They de­com­press, they cud­dle the goats and re­lax.”

Lana says in­ter­act­ing with the goats is an ex­pe­ri­ence sim­i­lar to play­ing with a pet, which has clin­i­cally been proven to re­lieve stress and im­prove well-be­ing.

“The hap­pi­ness the goats bring is great,” she says. “All an­i­mals are ther­a­peu­tic but there is some­thing about th­ese goats that is just in­cred­i­ble.

“You can be in a child’s pose po­si­tion and the next thing you know, you don’t want to get up be­cause there is a goat on your back.

“If there’s any­thing th­ese goats al­low you to be it’s con­scious.”

Sev­eral of her stu­dents say while the goats did ad­mit­tedly get in the way of the yoga stretches and poses, they are a wel­come dis­trac­tion that had ev­ery­one gig­gling and vow­ing to come back for more.

“It was a pure re­lease of tension, a pure re­lease of frus­tra­tion,” says Judy Wa­ters, who at­tended the class with her hus­band and sev­eral other friends, one of whom was cel­e­brat­ing her birth­day.

“You can’t re­ally be up­set when you’re around a bunch of baby goats climb­ing around and be­ing silly.”

There was also one added bonus, she says.

“I didn’t think about the ad­min­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton once dur­ing this en­tire hour,” Wa­ters chuck­les. “I would love to do this ev­ery week if I could.” – AFP Re­laxnews

Ebrahimi strug­gling not to laugh as one of the goats bal­ances on her back. — Pho­tos: AFP

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