By: Shilo Urban
By: Malcolm Mayhew
Imagine working on breathing exercises and challenging yoga poses while goats are cuddling you, jumping on you, and peeing on your mat (yes, that’s happened). But it’s all part of the experience.
“You just kind of have to go with the flow,” says Julia Paur, a goat yoga instructor at Soul Sweat Hot Yoga on Camp Bowie Boulevard. “Some people have their serious yoga practice they want to follow, but when you’re utilizing goats, you have to be able to just go with it.”
When Paur first heard about goat yoga, she knew immediately it was something she wanted to be a part of. Goat yoga is very similar to the basic yoga class. The only difference — participants hit the Downward-Dog and Table-Top poses all while Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats jump on their back or nibble at their clothes.
Paur already knew about the fitness trend when she was told about classes in Grapevine.
“When I heard about the Grapevine class, I tried to get in, but they always filled up,” she said.
So she decided to host her own class as an instructor, teaming up with Soul Sweat owner, Melinda Nag, to teach classes on the lawn at Americado — a trendy Mexican restaurant on Berry Street. The first event took place in July, with all proceeds going to the Alliance for Children of Fort Worth.
They plan to hold more goat yoga events in the future and partner with a different charity each time.
The group of about 24 goats comes from Westland Ranch in Mansfield. And according to Nag, they are “experienced yoga goats” and have previously participated in several classes in Dallas and Grapevine.
At the beginning of class, the goats mostly stay huddled in a corner of the pen as the class eases into a flow, with participants working on breathing exercises through Cat-Cow poses in a Table-Top position to start.
“It’s best to let the goats come to you,” Nag said.
After a few minutes, the goats eventually come out of the corner to pick at the food an instructor has scattered throughout the pen, and several class members pause to pet them as they wander by. For the remainder of the class, the goats walk around the pen. Several stand to the side or on the edges of participants’ mats, while some walk or stand underneath class members in a Downward-Dog stretch.
In Grapevine, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department hosted several classes over the summer. David Mote, recreation coordinator for the City of Grapevine, first heard about the class while listening to 96.3 KSCS on his morning drive to work.
“They mentioned goat yoga, so I went and did my research and thought it might be a big hit,” he said.
The city posted an event on Facebook for its inaugural class on June 3, and within a few hours, the 45 slots were already full. So far, it has held 15 classes at Nash Farm on Ball Street in Grapevine and plans to resume classes for the fall beginning Sept. 23.
“To some extent, we knew it would be popular; we just didn’t realize how quickly people would respond,” Mote said.
The benefits of having the goats around are also similar to the benefits of yoga — they help lower blood pressure and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Lainey Morse, the brains behind the latest fitness trend, thinks that pairing goats with yoga makes total sense.
Morse owns a farm in Albany, Oregon, where her goats were a source of therapy for her after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease while simultaneously going through a divorce in 2016. It sparked the idea that her goats could be used as therapy animals.
Then one day, while hosting a children’s birthday party on her scenic farm, the idea of goat yoga came to her. One of the parents, who happened to be a yoga instructor, asked her about the possibility of hosting classes on the farm. She thought the beautiful scenery would be the perfect location for a yoga class.
Thus began goat yoga. And it’s been sweeping the nation ever since, Fort Worth included.
“It’s definitely something that’s supposed to be fun, especially for people who love animals,” Nag says. “You have yoga, which is already calming and relaxing, and then you add in animals — it just takes it to a whole new level.”
Goats aren’t the only animals taking part in yoga. 3Tree Yoga on South Jennings Street has now hosted several kitten yoga classes in order to benefit the Spay Neuter Network. Class members stretch and meditate while kittens climb atop their stomachs or curl up into a ball on their laps. The kittens come from the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control, and they are also available for adoption. The next kitten yoga class will be Sept. 30. Visit 3treeyoga.com to sign up.
By: Shilo Urban
By: Malcolm Mayhew