Home English News Bring your own mat: Goat yoga is the next big thing

Bring your own mat: Goat yoga is the next big thing

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Yoga fans are constantly on the lookout for new and unusual relaxation and enlightenment techniques.

You can now do it standing up on a paddle board (SUP yoga), in a heated, humid room (bikram yoga), completely naked or with your dog. The latest craze takes things to a new level, and involves goats.

For Lainey Morse, owner of the “No Regrets” farm in the US state of Oregon, it is the perfect combination.

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“Goats can be mischievous and tend to nibble on the yoga mat,” admits the 45-year-old. “But you can totally relax when they’re next to you. They are very affectionate, and when they’re chewing on their food they’re almost meditative,” explains the goat expert.

yoga-goat yogaGoats nuzzle yoga adepts on mats in a field near Portland, Oregon. (Photo credit :”Lainey Morse / Goat Yoga / dpa”)

Last year, Morse brought together yoga students and her eight dwarf goats. Previously, visitors and goats had been in touch at the “Goat Happy Hours” held on her hobby ranch.

Morse, who suffers from autoimmune disease, swears by the therapeutic effect of the small animals, which love being stroked. When a yoga teacher visited her farm, the idea of “goat yoga” was born.

“It may sound crazy,” writes Morse on her website. But it’s more than your average yoga class. “The participants have huge smiles all over their faces.”

And more people might be joining them, with more than 1,800 prospective customers having already registered on Morse’s website. A short video titled “Happiness is a Warm Goat” has been clicked millions of times.

The yoga studio is either a field or a shed with some straw on the ground. The goats walk and mingle among the participants. Some of the animals lean against the guests, while others climb up on top of them if the pose allows for it.

“They are not at all shy and want to be stroked,” says Morse. Sometimes the yoga class is too short. “My two baby goats made themselves comfortable in the lap of one of the participants and slept. The woman did not want to get up.”

Goat yoga has already found imitators. In the state of Arizona, a goat rancher and a yoga teacher have started offering courses in the fresh country air. They advertise a “new kind of zen” and ask the important questions.

“Don’t worry about goat poo,” they say on their website. The goats move away from the yoga pasture to do their business.

Lainey Morse brushes aside other concerns. The animals do not stink one bit, she assures. Only male goats smell strongly, but not her castrated goats.

For Morse, goat yoga is a business with a future.

Her plan is to have the idea trademarked and distributed worldwide with franchise licenses. She has already received requests from Spain, Britain, Ireland and Canada. Course participants come from cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.

A US specialist journal for farmers recently reported on goat yoga and how it may become a lucrative business idea for rural tourism.

Morse is currently preparing a goat yoga class for couples on Valentine’s Day in February. Together with the University of Corvallis, 140 kilometres south of Portland, she is planning courses for stressed students.

Another project involves goats, yoga and wine tasting at sunset. However, she has to transfer her classes to a country inn near her farm. This is according to the rights of use in her rural district.

Morse does not complain: “As long as I have my goats around me, everything is good. They are the best therapy.”

-dpa