Goat yoga: the great­est – or pass­ing fad?

The Guardian - G2 - - News - Daniel Lavelle

We have had anti-grav­ity yoga, laugh­ter yoga and doga. Now goats are get­ting in on the ac­tion, too. The main dif­fer­ence be­tween yoga and goat yoga: while you are hold­ing your best down­ward dog, a goat might stand on your back. It is a grow­ing trend that started in Oregon in the US, and has been em­braced by celebrities such as Khloe Kar­dashian.

Donna McCheyne, who has been teach­ing goat yoga classes on a farm in Devon for the past two years, be­lieves the ap­peal lies in the calm­ing ef­fects the an­i­mals have on par­tic­i­pants and the laugh­ter their an­tics in­spire. “We con­nect with the an­i­mals. It helps to re­lease any cor­ti­sol that’s in the body. It also in­creases your happy hor­mones,” McCheyne says.

Carolyn Cowan, a yoga in­struc­tor from Lon­don, says: “Hav­ing to work harder with a crea­ture mov­ing on your back is ac­tu­ally prob­a­bly re­ally good for your core. And, I think the amount of laugh­ter has to be re­ally good for your core, too. I think, over­all, I’d look on it as a fab­u­lous ad­ven­ture.”

Not ev­ery­one is en­thu­si­as­tic about the new trend. Sara Teiger has been prac­tis­ing iyen­gar yoga

– a more tra­di­tional branch of yoga – for 15 years and thinks goat yoga is a point­less fad. “It’s not about the ex­er­cise or the metal health ben­e­fits, it’s just about the so­cial me­dia that gets gen­er­ated af­ter­wards,” Teiger says. “I’m do­ing a down­ward dog and I’ve got a goat on my arse, but so what? You’re not go­ing to find some­one who goes twice a week be­fore work.”

Teiger also says she is con­cerned about the wel­fare of the goats and that they are be­ing used as a prop for peo­ple’s amuse­ment. McCheyne in­sists the goats par­tic­i­pate will­ingly. “We don’t bribe them, we don’t pick them up and place them on our bod­ies or any­thing, but if they’re in­ter­ested, they’ll come by and have a sniff or a lit­tle bit of a nib­ble. They might chew your hair or your yoga mat. And they’ll just come around for a cud­dle, re­ally,” McCheyne adds.

Marie Spreck­ley, the owner of Lon­don Weight­loss Clinic and a teacher of barre (a com­bi­na­tion of yoga, dance and pi­lates), does not think the trend is con­ducive to the pur­pose of yoga. “Yoga is all about mind­ful­ness, re­lax­ation and con­cen­tra­tion. You can’t do it while hav­ing an er­ratic an­i­mal around. In ad­di­tion to that, you might in­jure your­self.”

While Cowan ac­knowl­edges that goat yoga will be a pass­ing fancy for most, she loves the idea of it. “You’re just go­ing to be laugh­ing and smil­ing all the way through. So, I don’t think it’s go­ing to take you to a specif­i­cally in­ter­nal zen calm, but I think through pos­i­tive con­nect­ing hor­mones, you’re go­ing to come out of it feel­ing ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. I re­ally want to have a go.”

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