“Can you maintain your balance with a goat on your back?” asked our instructor, Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga (RMGY) owner Jimmy Naron. The parents gathered to try goat yoga as a playdate—my partner Ben and I included—contemplated the question as we moved awkwardly from plank to downward facing dog pose; small herds of toddlers, preschoolers, and energetic baby goats surrounded us.
I’d been asking myself a similar version of that question almost daily for the past ten years—ever since my first son was born—and I realized parenting wasn’t going to be the walk in the park I’d initially pictured. It turns out that practicing yoga with kids (i.e. baby goats) is a metaphor for practicing life with kids (the actual human kind).
The hour-long “Goat Yoga for Kids” session is a playful way for families to spend a Sunday morning under the old-growth trees at Four Mile Historic Park, which launched its brand-new goat yoga series on August 1. Special kid-friendly sessions will be offered on-site through September, and possibly into October, weather permitting.
Don’t come into the gated-off goat yoga circle looking for a meditative yogic experience, though. Goat Yoga for Kids is more about the animal encounter than the actual practice of yoga. It still makes for a fun play date, with funky music blaring in the background while a tiny herd of Nigerian goats sniff your mat, bounce from one back to another, and sometimes nibble a ponytail.
Goat Yoga is suitable for children ages two and up, and is appropriate for kids who can follow safety precautions outlined at the beginning of class — mainly, no putting your fingers in the goats’ mouths. “The RMGY herd is extremely well-behaved,” says Naron. “Our goats are constantly being trained to interact and find companionship with guests in a way that’s specifically designed for goat yoga sessions.”
Baby goats really do love to climb on backs, and yogis are encouraged to pet the baby goats, hold them, and snap funny photos. There’s some evidence that practicing yoga with goats has benefits beyond the “cuteness” factor too. “From a scientific level, humans release oxytocin when interacting with animals, which reduces cortisol levels,” explains Naron. “It’s an animal connection that produces the love hormone, and that is healing power.”
We couldn’t end our practice with a typical savasana (resting pose). “That gets intense with goats,” Naron explaines. So, instead, we took a moment of silence to appreciate the goats, who are curious, playful, fun, and oh-so-loving… just like our own children, even if we sometimes forget it during the hectic ups and downs of parenting.