Goat yoga has become one of the biggest yoga trends in the past few years. You can find a goat yoga class almost anywhere you go and hire someone to do a goat yoga class for your party or event fairly easily. While it probably is a lot of fun and seems to be a lighthearted way of inviting some yoga into your life, many in the yoga community have posed issues with goat yoga classes.
What is goat yoga exactly?
Goat yoga is quite literally a yoga class, typically outdoors, with a number of goats grazing around as you practice. Some will climb on top of you while you’re in certain postures, other times people working the class who are in charge of the goats will encourage them and place them on your body for a laugh or a photo op. Goats are typically provided for the events by local farms or owners who watch over the goats as a yoga instructor leads the class. Goat yoga classes happen all over the country, and are typically group classes or held for private parties and events.
What problems does goat yoga pose?
You may be wondering what problems people could have with something that appears to be so lighthearted and fun. While many argue that goat yoga is purely a fun activity, a lot of the yoga community has strong feelings about whether or not goat yoga is ethical and an appropriate way to practice the ancient tradition of yoga.
The westernization of yoga is extremely controversial and has come to many people’s attention over the span of yoga developing in the west. Yoga is an ancient practice rooted in the traditions of hinduism. It began growing in popularity in the west in the late 1900’s. The problem is, many who teach and practice yoga have no real knowledge of the roots of the practice and neglect to honor the traditions of yoga.
It is thought by many that goat yoga is too, a westernized version of yoga that profits off of creating yoga trends unrelated to the culture of origin and doesn’t uphold any of the real values of yoga. It is taking a very ancient and sacred practice and adding elements that make it a fun activity and fail to recognize the origins and original intent of the practice of yoga.
Most goat yoga classes are spent paying attention to the goats and interacting with the animals rather than practicing asana. You aren’t able to drop into your practice or obtain any of the true goals of yoga when you are paying attention to the animals, so it is argued that goat yoga is not truly yoga at all.
Yoga is a beautiful practice that helps unify the mind, body and spirit. It is important that we honor it as such and respect the roots of the practice. There’s no denying goat yoga is a fun and engaging way to spend an hour at an event or celebration, but before you partake, I invite you to think about if goat yoga is honoring the tradition of yoga and your own practice in the way you really want it to.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.