College of DuPage Nursing Student Brianna Stencel shared with Healthy Lombard that Goat yoga is a real thing. Coming into the yoga scene around 2016, goat yoga has been a popular staple in health and wellness for the past five years.
But what is it really? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds. Participants attend a yoga class populated with free-roaming baby goats, oftentimes becoming a stepping stool for the furry little troublemakers. This newest brand of yoga encompasses the health benefits of regular yoga with the fun and added joy of a petting zoo. But is it just another fad or does it actually have the potential to positively impact your health? If the research is considered valid, then yes, there are benefits to health.
It is well known that yoga in general can be an extremely useful tool in the journey to better health and wellness. According to Harvard Health (2021), those who regularly practice yoga developed better body awareness, promoted a positive body image and self-esteem by encouraging “mindful” eating in those individuals suffering from eating disorders. It has been demonstrated as beneficial in weight loss, weight maintenance, increased cardiovascular health, flexibility, strength, and endurance. In addition to the physical benefits of practicing yoga, the mental benefits are something to consider such as alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A plethora of evidence also suggests that interactions with animals can boost oxytocin and dopamine levels, thereby, improving mental health as in animal-assisted therapy. The increased hormone levels improve anxiety and depression while also helping to promote resilience and confidence. Studies have found that human-animal interactions can help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, alleviate pain, reduce stress resulting in a calming effect.
Apart from the physical and mental benefits, goat yoga is also genuinely fun; something that may be lacking for many when it comes to exercising. To make physical activity more interesting and entertaining, participating in this activity on a continuous basis increases these aspects and is a nice incentive for those less than enthused to engage in regular exercise. The addition of animals to yoga has a marked benefit to improve health and wellness and is nothing short of genius to make it fun! According to the Journal of Extension (2021), goat yoga not only promotes health and wellness but improves agriculture. By generating interest in goats, goat yoga helps to facilitate interest in goat products; goat milk, cheese, and even cashmere (wool). Moreover, goat yoga aids with weight loss thereby, improving cardiovascular and mental health, increase strength, flexibility, and endurance, promotes healthy body image, a state of calm, mindful eating.
Goat yoga appears to be here to stay and has steadily been gaining popularity over the past few years. It is not only fun but a healthy alternative to traditional, mundane physical activity, and as an added bonus—it helps out the baby goats.
The Journal of Extension (JOE). 2021. Goat Yoga: Preliminary Implications for Health, Agriculture, and 4-H. [online] Available at: <https://www.joe.org/joe/2019june/iw4.php> [Accessed 6 February 2021].
Publishing, H., 2021. Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat> [Accessed 6 February 2021].
Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H. and Kotrschal, K., 2021. Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin.
Goat photo from krzysztof-kowalik-U2xmMHaZd8U-unsplash.jpg