Namaste in the straw: doing the downward dog with goats in rural Alberta

Namaste in the straw: doing the downward dog with goats in rural Alberta

There's hot yoga for those who like to sweat, paddle board yoga for those that like the ever-present risk of falling unceremoniously into the water, and even rage yoga for the person who would rather swear than say, 'namaste.'

And now, Albertans can perform sun salutations in the straw, serenaded by gentle bleating and perhaps the occasional headbutt.

It's called goat yoga, and it's exactly what it sounds like — yoga surrounded by friendly goats at the Early Dawn Goat Dairy in Water Valley, Alta., about an hour northwest of Calgary on Highway 22. 

"All we are doing is holding a yoga class in the corral with the goats," owner Dawn Kay told The Calgary Eyeopener. "Goats are naturally a very friendly, curious, warm, loving animal, and they contribute to the ambience of the yoga class."

The goats themselves don't appear to be too bothered by the extra visitors in their corral, said Kay, who hosted her first classes this week.

"They're wandering around, sniffing at the clothing, nibbling on the yoga mats," she explained. 

Oregon origins

Kay didn't come up with the idea of goat yoga. Rather, she was inspired by a woman in Oregon who started a similar practice. 

Lainey Morse, the owner of No Regrets Farm, told CBC's As It Happens last fall that she came up with the idea after a yoga instructor suggested she hold yoga sessions at the farm. She soon incorporated the goats into the sessions because she saw how people reacted to the animals.

Watch out for 'goat seed'

Before each class, Kay rakes the area and lays down fresh straw so that participants' yoga mats are less likely to come into contact with goat manure, which Kay calls "goat seed."

"There may be some occurrences of goat seed during the class, but what's what you sign up for when you decide to come out to goat yoga," she said.

If you're willing to take that risk, you're treated to a much better view than a normal yoga class, Kay added.

"One of the [students] said, 'looking out at the pasture and the trees and listening to the birds while you do yoga sure beats looking at somebody else's back end.'" 

Those interested in attending a goat yoga class can get more information from Freebird Adventures in Cochrane, Alta. It costs $65 for a one-hour class. 

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With files from The Calgary Eyeopener.