You’ve probably heard of the various exercise fads like yoga-booty-ballet and cat yoga. Possibly one of the most bizarre exercise fads might be goat yoga. At first, blush to perform yoga alongside goats sounds ridiculous, but it might have some unforeseen health benefits!
Goat Yoga fuses both the mental health benefits of animal/pet therapy and yoga’s physical health benefits. This article explains the seven greatest benefits of goat yoga, including how it helps reduce stress, helps with any trauma, tension in your body, and regulating hormones and cleanse the endocrine system.
Goat yoga benefits are real and have helped countless individuals find joy, peace, and overall healthier well-being. By the time you’re done reading about all these health benefits, you’ll likely be ready to sign up for your first session!
What is Goat Yoga?
Goat yoga is not the practice of goats doing their best downward dog. Goat Yoga is a standard yoga session, with the added perk of goats roaming freely during the class. You might have heard of something similar, as certain cat cafes, like Crumbs & Whiskers in Los Angeles, offer cat yoga (in which you do yoga…surrounded by adoptable cats.)
However, you might be wondering…why goats, of all animals? Goats are highly intelligent, very social, and surprisingly cuddly. Often during goat yoga classes, the goats will nuzzle the students, lay directly next to people on their mats, and sometimes even climb on top of people’s backs mid-pose.
Goat yoga is filled with laughter, joy, and lots of balancing poses while scratching under a goat’s chin. It demands additional balance and the acceptance of an imperfect yoga practice.
The Benefits of Goat Yoga
From the joy of being around animals and their exuberant energy to the very real physical improvements that occur, goat yoga is beneficial to the mind and body for countless reasons!
Animal Therapy Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Animal therapy (sometimes referred to as the pet effect) is not a new concept. Many rehabilitation centers and other such therapy centers have long used horses for therapy. Horses are intuitive animals whose presence soothes distress persons. Likewise, dogs and cats are often recommended for mentally distressed or depressed individuals to act as their therapy companions.
Even simply looking at and being in person with an animal ignites the serotonin in a human’s brain. An animal’s presence sends signals to the brain that a person is witnessing something cute, which pricks the joy censors, which flood the brain with serotonin. This chemical makes you feel light and happy.
The comforting touch of a therapy animal goes a step further even, as touch creates its unique chemical feeling of safety and comfort. The concept of goat yoga utilizes all aspects of animal therapy but allowing yoga students to be surrounded by animals for an hour, and most times, even getting to touch and interact with those animals. Those animals are, of course, goats.
Goats, much like horses, are highly intelligent and friendly. Goats long for connection and love interacting and exploring. Therefore, some goats will climb atop yoga students during a session. They are curious, playful, and eager to interact. These playful interactions make students feel comforted and at ease.
Goat Yoga Challenges Yogis to Embrace an Imperfect Practice
In yoga, it is important to remember that everyone’s practice is their own. Everyone is on a different life journey and, thereby, on a different journey with yoga. While it is important to master the correct techniques of yoga to truly glean all the benefits the practice has to offer, it is equally important to remember that perfection is not the goal.
Yogi’s who take their practice very seriously, maybe even too seriously, can benefit from a goat yoga session by being forced to surrender to an imperfect practice in an unpredictable environment.
It is not easy to perform a perfect flow series while a goat is climbing onto your back or lying across your mat. This is part of the challenge of goat yoga: embracing the interruptions and imperfect flow. Goat yoga teaches you to improvise and work with your surroundings.
Adds Additional Physical Trials, Not Present in Normal Yoga
Similarly, goat yoga can present physical challenges and obstacles that are not present in normal yoga sessions. Trying to keep your back straight in cat/cow poses while a goat sits on top of your spine is a physically demanding task. Likewise, trying to maintain a correct warrior two posture while a goat’s fur tickles your calves is difficult!
All of this is made more physically demanding when you add in the ab exercises you get from laughing the entire class. Goat yoga is fun, relaxing, and a physical challenge.
Brings Laughter into the Yoga Class
Many times, goat yoga leads to laughter amongst one or more students, which helps to further alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Most students who leave a goat yoga session do so in a significantly lighter mood.
Goats are silly. They look silly, sound silly, and even smell silly. Sometimes a goat will plop themselves right beside you during a vulnerable pose, like a happy baby. A goat may also try to sniff your booty, mid happy baby pose! It is hard to keep from bursting into fits of laughter when this occurs.
If you need some good belly-aching laughs, goat yoga is most certainly the cure for whatever ails you.
Yoga (in general) Improves Flexibility
Goat yoga is still yoga, and yoga helps improve balance and flexibility. The challenge of yoga is maintaining a specific rhythm of breathing while holding physically demanding poses. Poses that feel difficult to master when first beginning yoga ultimately becomes easier as our muscles expand, and our joints give way, and voila! Improved flexibility!
Yoga Improves the Functioning of the Endocrine System & Hormone Imbalances
The endocrine system plays a vital role in the human body, as it helps to regulate most functions, chemicals, and coordination that make the body work properly. When the endocrine system is out of whack, often hormones rage, flexibility is limited, and all sorts of physical ailments can occur.
Hormones are one of the main chemical messengers that travel through this system to help regulate the body’s rate of growth, temperature, level of hydration, etc. Interestingly, some hormonal imbalances can be traced to a large malfunction within the endocrine system. While yoga alone cannot magically heal an entire body system, it certainly can help!
Yoga poses help to put pressure and relieve pressure from specific glands that can secrete hormones. When blood flow is increased throughout the body, it improves brain function as well as better movement through endocrine entities like the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid glands.
Specific poses help to alleviate blockages in these glands and get the endocrine moving smoothly. By doing yoga in general, you can better help regulate your own hormone imbalances, blood flow, and brain function! Goat yoga poses the same benefits, but with an extra dose of happy hormones (i.e., serotonin.)
Yoga & Goats Keep you Present
Something yoga can do (even sans goats) is helping people to stay ‘at the moment.’ Staying present and keeping your mind focused on one single task in our ever-changing, highly stimulating world is difficult. However, yoga demands a person to be present and take inventory of their body and focus deeply on the mechanisms occurring within.
Goat yoga offers this same almost meditative state of being present as the goat’s pull you out of your ‘thinking’ brain. You are forced to engage with the present moment when a goat is head-butting you, rubbing themselves on you, begging for pets, bleating at their fellow goat friends, or using your back as a bed.
The Key Take Away
Goat yoga is not only a fun, novel activity, but it will leave you in a state of improved health. Goat yoga will help relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. It can help draw you into the present moment, so you stop worrying and thinking about the future and your to-do list so much. Not only that, but goat yoga is silly and induces lots of belly-aching laughs. Make it a social event by bringing a friend to really amp up the joy factor and watch as your problems simply melt away for an hour in the presence of these bleating, hairy goofballs who just want to climb you like a hill.