If you haven’t heard yet, we’re here to introduce you to the recent fitness phenomenon that is goat yoga. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Goat yoga involves the introduction of the adorable and curious farm animals into your regular yoga practice. While at first glance, this might seem a concept too strange to consider, thousands are signing up to try it out for themselves.
Since its original conception back in 2016, animal lovers and dedicated yogis alike have lined up to see what all the fuss is about. Lucky for us, many of these participants saw the strange activity as a perfect photo opportunity. Like most good ideas, goat yoga came to fruition from one person’s ambitious project and has since grown into a social media craze.
The Original Goat Yoga
You might not be surprised to hear that the idea of goat yoga came about as a complete accident. As the founder of the original goat yoga studio puts it, the concept was born from “a series of serendipity moments.” Lainey Morse (pictured here), says she always wanted to own goats but never lived in an area where having them would make sense.
Upon reaching adulthood, Morse finally made this dream a reality. After moving from Phoenix Arizona to Albany Oregon, Morse bought a small farm and appropriately named her new property “No Regrets.” From there she taught herself what it takes to raise goats, and began raising a small herd on her farm.
An Accidental Idea
At first, Morse utilized her property to host events and birthday parties where she will invite guests to spend time with her lovable goats. It was during one such party that the idea of goat yoga came about. Her friend and yoga instructor approached Lainey and told her that her scenic farm would offer the perfect location for a meaningful yoga class.
Morse responded in agreement but with one condition, that her eight goats would have to join in on the fun. The idea took off and she began inviting people to her farm to practice yoga while enjoying the mountain view and the playful antics of the local grazers.
Luckily, Morse had plenty of PR skills from her time working in marketing, so she was able to help the new goat yoga classes gain some momentum. She took some photos of the first class, sent them to the Modern Farmer magazine and from there, the photos spoke for themselves.
“Within a few minutes, they contacted me and said, ‘We have got to do a story on this.’” Pretty soon her story went viral and people from far and wide made the journey to the western Oregon farm simply to try the quirky concept for themselves.
Once Morse had the business up and running, she had over 2,300 people on the waitlist. What was meant to bring in some side money, soon turned into a full-time job. Soon Lainey was forced to leave her marketing gig and focus all her time on running her goat yoga studio.
“I’d be in the office, and I’d say, ‘I have to go to the bathroom,’ or, ‘I have to go to the bank,’ and I’d go down the street and do a media interview,” she says. “It was just taking over my life, and finally my boss was like, ‘Listen, this is not working.'” She had to make the scary decision to leave her steady paycheck to pursue her newfound dream.
Paid Back Her Loans and Beyond
It turns out, this risky decision worked out for the best. Throughout her first year of business, Morse made around $160,000 in revenue and her profits have only grown from there. In order to get her business off the ground, Lainey received a loan of $75,000 from a close friend.
Morse had no idea just how expensive covering all the expenses would be, “I figured it would take me about $50,000 in expenses,” she says, “and it’s actually ended up about triple that.” Before Lainey knew it, however, she had paid back all her loans and it was all uphill from there.
Her Goats Were Her Therapy
Morse’s story is a true case of making lemonade out of lemons. After her divorce and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, she fell into a depression and had little motivation to start each day. As strange as it sounds, it was her goats that helped break her out of this funk.
“I would come home every day and spend time with my goats, and it was so therapeutic for me,” she says. “It’s hard to be sad and depressed when there are baby goats jumping on you.” Her furry friends had given her a new lease on life, and she was ready to share this newfound therapy with the world.
A Happy Distraction
“It may sound silly, but goat yoga is really helping people,” Morse says. “People come in that have anxiety, depression; they’re recovering from cancer or illness. It’s not curing diseases, but it’s helping people cope with whatever they’re going through.”
After seeing these photos, it’s easy to see how this could lead to some stress-relieving hilarity. “The most fun part for me is watching people’s faces when a little goat comes up to them while they’re doing a yoga pose. It’s a distraction, but it’s a happy distraction,” Morse says.
Trademarking Her Goats
Farms across the country began introducing goat yoga to their properties. So much so that Morse felt compelled to trademark her company as “Original Goat Yoga.” This way everyone will always know that her goats were the original four-legged yogis.
She even trademarked her own logo of a goat sitting in a lotus position. Since then she has opened a full line of merchandise with the charming logo. Visitors are happy to purchase shirts and other apparel in order to properly commemorate their goat yoga experience.
But How Does It Work?
So you might be wondering at this point, how does goat yoga even work? To image that these goats are actually trained in the ancient Indian discipline is a nice thought, but unfortunately is not the case. In fact, how the goats participate in the yoga class is completely up to them.
Those participating in the class simply go about their yoga practice per usual, while the goats are free to roam around and investigate their human guests as they see fit. Sometimes the goats simply roam around, while others come up to the yogi, nuzzle up and even climb on top of the visitors in the middle of their yoga flow.
Letting Goats Be Goats
Some goat yoga classes have goat attendants which will hand feed the goats to keep them from chewing on your belongings. These attendants are also sometimes hired to sprinkle food on your back during particular poses to tempt the shyer goats to participate. Morse believes that the best goat yoga experience involves, as she puts it “letting goats be goats and doing (within reason) what they want.”
Luckily, most of the goats require no temptation whatsoever. As natural climbers, they will happily oblige and climb up on your back during a plank or similar pose. This is not only adorable and fun but also adds the extra challenge of balancing the extra weight on your back.
Expect the Unexpected
Lainey Morse describes the goat yoga experience as an “Animal-Assisted Therapy in a natural setting with an unexpectedly smart, social, and profoundly cuddly animal.” In addition to the therapeutic joy and calmness that comes from the goat yoga experience, Morse also says to expect the unexpected.
On her Original Goat Yoga website, she elaborates by saying, “They might jump on your back, stare into your soul, burp in your ear, or give goat hugs. Most often they’ll just lay down on your yoga mat and snuggle up next to you…juuuuust as you perfect your pose.”
A Win-Win Situation
Although she knows that goat yoga is not a cure for life’s woes, big or small, it does offer and “unbelievable distraction from politics, work, stress, sickness or depression.”Morse goes on to explain that the goats themselves are her “babies” and that they are mostly rescues.
Her main goal is that the experience will be mutually beneficial both to the yogis and the goats themselves. The farm strives to ensure the goats are living their best lives while “sharing that sense of calm that makes them so special,” with the world.
Maintaining the Human to Goat Ratio
For Morse’s goat yoga classes, she uses Nigerian Dwarf goats which grow to be a maximum weight of around 30-40 pounds. She now holds classes at various locations, including the original Oregon farm. She finds it important to limit the class to 30 people.
In addition, Morse emphasizes the importance of keeping a good human-to-goat ratio. This way, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the attention of the goats. To this day, after all her success, Lainey still enjoys more than anything, seeing how much joy her goats bring to the goat yoga participants.
Awaken Joy and Compassion
Although Morse provides the space and the goats for her guests to take their goat yoga classes, she is not only giving the yoga instructions. Classes are led by Heather Davis, who is also the yoga instructor that inspired the idea of goat yoga.
According to the goat yoga website, “Davis leads a breath-focused, playful class inspired by her love of animals.” Heather is a certified instructor in both Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. She finds the goat yoga classes a great way to “awaken joy and compassion.”
Impossible Not to Smile
Another added benefit to goat yoga is the constant reminder to not take yourself too seriously. One thing that yoga instructors across all styles try to emphasize, is to always concentrate on your own practice and your own progress, without wasting energy comparing yourself to others.
The introduction of these adorable, judgment-free additions to your yoga space will once again emphasize this notion that staying in good spirits will only help your practice. Although distracting, the distraction is a light-hearted one free of negativity.
Bringing Goat Yoga to the World
Today, Original Goat Yoga founder, Lainey Morse continues to manage a waitlist of thousands of people eager to include her goats in their yoga practice. So much so that she has since branched out nationally and internationally to “bring Original Goat Yoga to the world.” Morse wants to share her knowledge of running a successful business and help spread the word about goat yoga as a practice.
On her website, she says, “I’ve spent countless hours researching liability insurance, zoning laws, and regulations. I’ve also spent thousands of dollars on trademarks and attorneys to make this an easy business model. I have 26 years of marketing experience and have helped run a successful multi-million dollar company for the past 10 years. I’m very excited to help you succeed in building your very own Goat Yoga business. ”
Goat Yoga Academy
As part of this project, Morse has kickstarted a “Goat Yoga Academy” that teaches interested participants on how to start a successful goat yoga business. Those who pass the academy also have access to a long list of resources that Lainey offers.
This includes the use of her marketing and advertising skills, as well as the use of her trademarked goat yoga logo. In addition, she offers a marketing kit, monthly consults, and tips on how to deal with media attention. Sounds like Morse has turned into a full-fledged business mogul.
Corporate Level Goat Yoga
Morse has also lent her knowledge to researchers from Oregon State University. These researchers are working alongside the goat yoga founder to better understand goat-human interaction. In addition, Michigan State has also started offering goat yoga classes through its urban farm program.
Morse also brings her goats to corporate events. Her four-legged companions have visited big name companies such as Nike and Kaiser Permanente. Lainey and her goats are going beyond the farm and are taking over the corporate world.
The First Goat-el
The sky is truly the limit for Lainey Morse and her goats. As the goat yoga craze continues to spread throughout the globe, Morse is always thinking of new ways that she can continue sharing her lovable goats and the happiness they bring to the world.
Recently, the goat enthusiast is looking into the idea of opening the first-ever goat hotel or “Goat-el,” as Morse puts it. This way people can stay overnight and have a full goat experience, and not just on the yoga mat.
In an interview with CNBC, Morse spoke about her entire experience with creating and growing her goat yoga business. She not only spoke about the lessons that she learned when it came to owning a company but also about the individuals she met along the way. She shared her thought about how her goats help people disconnect from day to day stress and focus on staying positive and embracing the “happy vibes” that the goats bring.
She recalls a specific encounter with a woman visiting her farm; “I remember a lady coming. She says, ‘I almost didn’t come. My husband was diagnosed with cancer, and I’ve been his caregiver and it’s been so hard on me.’” The woman had planned to cancel her goat yoga session, but her daughter talked her out of it. “It’s been the best decision I could’ve made because it’s the first time I’ve smiled in months,” she told Morse. Powerful experiences like these are what keep Morse motivated to continue sharing the love her goats have to offer.
Goat Happy Hour
Lainey has come a long way since first finding solace on her farm. Back in the early years, she would enjoy her own one on one time with her goats, dubbing their bonding time as “Goat Happy Hour.” She then began inviting people over before her accidental entrepreneurial journey began.
“You never know what it means when something goes viral, but it feels like a roller coaster going 100 miles an hour, and you can’t get off,” she says about her goat yoga program becoming an international craze. Today her goats continue to “brighten even the darkest of days” on her farm and beyond.
Studios Across the State
Many other enthusiastic goat yoga lovers have taken Lainey’s lead and started a goat yoga program of their own. This trend is all about creating a balance between yoga and nature as well as interacting with these adorable farm animals which most city dwellers aren’t commonly exposed to.
It only makes sense that so many people are interested in trying out goat yoga for themselves and that so many are trying their hand and creating their own goat yoga program. Currently, there are studios popping up all across the United States.
Not All Goat Yoga Classes Are Alike
Other than at Lainey’s Oregon “No Regrets” farm you can also find goat yoga classes in locations such as Sage Meadow Farm in Massachusetts, Lavenderwood Farm in California and Gilbertsville Studio in New York, to name a few.
As is evident, the goat yoga phenomenon has truly taken over all corners of the U.S. And each offers its own unique experience. Whether you see yourself stretching out outside in the grass or hay or prefer an indoor, studio setting, there is a goat yoga program for everyone.
How to Prepare for a Class
No matter which experience you prefer, there are some commonly heard tips to keep in mind when preparing for your first goat yoga experience. First of all, be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting chewed on or licked by the goats, as they are keen on sharing their goat kisses with visitors.
On that note, make sure to tie your hair back to avoid tempting the goats to playful give it a tug. In addition, be prepared that some accidents might occur on the practice floor. Other than that, you just need to prepare yourself for cuteness overload as these farm animals are clearly adorable.