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On the Bleat: The Surprising Benefits of Goat Yoga

By Christa Banister

The idea of caprine vinyasa — more commonly known as goat yoga — may sound a little crazy at first, but this relatively new approach to wellness is thriving. And why not? Keeping a straight face is nearly impossible when you see an adorable baby goat leaping up on someone’s back while she’s trying to hold her downward-facing dog pose. Instead of oms, this breed of yoga is punctuated with plenty of laughs along with a myriad of very real therapeutic benefits.

While Madison Avenue would no doubt love to take credit for this runaway trend, goat yoga wasn’t the product of a brainstorming session in a corporate boardroom somewhere. Instead, it was a happy accident on Lainey Morse’s farm in Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Goat Snuggles Lead to Accidental Success

goat yoga at Rio RetreatAfter a difficult period following a divorce and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Morse found comfort in the company of her goats. Sharing that it was hard to be sad and depressed when surrounded by baby goats, it turns out a growing number of people happen to agree.

The waiting list for the classes at Morse’s Oregon farm exceeded 1,200 in 2017, and now goat yoga is available in a variety of scenic locales from coast to coast — including at Rio Retreat Center in Wickenburg, Arizona.

While owning goats was always part of Morse’s life plan, inventing a new way to enjoy yoga wasn’t. Morse regularly hosted a goat “happy hour” where people stopped by her farm to hang out with the animals.

But when a yoga instructor who attended suggested mixing in yoga with the festivities since Morse’s farm was so incredibly picturesque, goat yoga was born because Morse couldn’t easily move the goats to accommodate the yoga. Fortunately, it wound up working just fine.

More Than Mere Cuteness Overload

While it might be easy to dismiss goat yoga as nothing more than a trendy, here-today-gone-tomorrow viral moment that looks cool on someone’s Instagram, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that animal therapy not only helps with lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and even physical pain, but for children with autism, it helps foster important connections that may increase self-confidence.

In terms of mental health, there’s evidence that animals help with lowering anxiety, reducing feelings of loneliness, and increasing mental stimulation.

And for goats in particular, they are considered ideal therapy partners because Morse says they don’t need to develop a specific bond with a human before they start interacting with them. Baby goats are comfortable just coming up to strangers and they’re natural comics, which is what makes goats and yoga such ideal companions.

Rio Retreat Center’s goat yoga features two adorable kids named Sigmund and Freud and is offered on a limited basis for now. For more information on all of the amenities our campus offers, visit rioretreatcenter.com.