Forget the downward dog and the cat stretch, this is the latest yoga craze – the trampling goat.
Holding a stretch while a pygmy goat balances on your back has proved so popular with yoga devotees in America that the method has been brought to the UK.
It was created by US farmer Lainey Morse, who said her goats got her through being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and a divorce. Attempting to restore your spiritual balance with a small goat perched on your back might not sound that relaxing but instructors insist it is very therapeutic.
Pennywell Farm in Devon has just started offering two-hour goat yoga classes costing £25 and is already booked up until September. The teacher – or yogi – Donna McCheyne admits classes to go ‘quite go as smoothly’ as traditional sessions.
‘In our first class we had goats clambering on our backs, licking our toes, chewing our hair and nibbling at the yoga mats, which was quite hysterical really,’ she said. ‘And humour makes yoga more therapeutic for people who might be going through a difficult time.’ Anyone struggling to imagine how a goat might help them unwind will be surprised how light and gentle their hoofs feel, she says. ‘They place one hoof on, then before you know it there’s an angora goat on your back. The longer you’re still, the more likely they are to climb on you, which encourages people to be calm and relaxed.
‘They particularly like the hare pose – where you sit back on your heels and lower your forehead to the floor – and cat pose, where you are on all fours.’
The farmer’s owner, Chris Murray, said he thought Miss McCheyne was joking when she suggested they set up goat yoga classes. ‘I didn’t know whether to take her seriously or not. But having researched it online, I found that not only does goat yoga exist, it’s really rather popular,’ he said.
Goats are not the only animals joining the classes, there will be piglets too. Leading animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford said it was no surprise yoga pupils found the presence of goats therapeutic.
‘These animals can lower the heart rate because they release the “cuddle chemical” oxytocin, which produces the same type of feelings as when a mother looks at her baby or a lover looks at their partner,’ he said.
But he warned: ‘Goats are notorious for eating anything they can, including clothing, so might be a little bit distracting.’
© Daily Mail