Goat Yoga As a Form of Therapy

by AUGUST KISSEL, Web Editor

The original Goat Yoga studio opened in Corvallis Oregon and was created by a woman named Lainey Morse, who had a love for goats and a friend who happened to be a yoga instructor. Morse used her goats as a form of therapy, she called it Goat Happy Hour. Morse’s friend told her that Morse should have yoga classes in her barn. Morse’s immediate reaction was the goats were going to climb all over everyone doing yoga, and all of her friends said that would be the best part. Thus goat yoga was born.

As a yoga super fan myself, I have always wanted to take a Goat Yoga class and nearly shot through the roof when I found out Manhattan College would be hosting a Goat Yoga class. Downward Dog with a goat on my back, yes please! Before arriving to the studio I thought this was going to be a fun day of time with goats and doing yoga with my friends. Upon arriving to Hover Farms in Germantown NY and we were greeted by an army of turkeys I started to grasp what I got myself into. I was suddenly aware of just how animal goats are.

August Kissel practices the cat/cow pose with a goat. AUGUST KISSEL / THE QUADRANGLE

We were taken to the barn, given blankets and started to run through the rules of goat yoga. One, honor that we are in the goat’s space and that they make the rules. Two, no pushing the goats away from you. Three, if the goats poop, shake off your blanket and keep going with the class. Our instructor also explained that Goat Yoga is meant to be used as a form of therapy as it has the ability to regulate hormone levels and is encouraged as a form of exercise for those with depression and anxiety who are comfortable with the idea of being with goats. Once the rules were established, an army of 20 goats came barreling into the barn and the class began.

Our instructor asked us to close our eyes, which was almost impossible, as I had goats nibbling on my knees and trying to pull my blanket out from under me. Then the class went on and I felt more comfortable with the goats. All of us smiled and giggled the whole time. The goats would run into us and push us over, or lay next to us and decide

Cate Weiden, one of the five students who attended goat yoga, is pictured here surrounded by three goats. AUGUST KISSEL / THE QUADRANGLE

they wanted our attention and block our poses to be pet instead. This made the physical part of my yoga practice difficult, I wasn’t reaching super far into the poses or as centered on my breathing as I usually strive to be, and yet I would argue that this class was just as important to my yoga practice as a vinyasa or a bikram class. I smiled consistently for 90 minutes of yoga, connected with a goat named Merle, and I was happy.

Yoga is all about accepting where you are and flowing from there. On Friday I was flowing with a whole bunch of playful creatures, and so we played and flowed along. As a college student and an adult, I feel as though we don’t get a lot of play time. Time where we are encouraged to be, to laugh, to be nervous, and to be messy. At Hover Farms we did nothing but that, Goat Yoga gave us all an excuse to play and I would recommend this experience to anyone who’s curious about goats or yoga.