Goga. Yep, goat yoga is very much a thing and it’s absolutely BRILLIANT. I first discovered it watching the local Iowa news and within an hour or so I had booked myself onto a session. I’ve become obsessed with yoga since moving to the States and you can’t deny that baby goats are ridiculously cute, so it seemed like the perfect combination!
Goat Yoga: What to Expect
For my goat yoga session I went to Coco’s Ranch in Palo Iowa, just outside of Cedar Rapids. Coco’s Ranch is in a lovely location, there is a small area for parking and as soon as I got out of my car a baby lamb ran up to me! I arrived 30 minutes before the start and had to sign a waiver, I have signed so many of these over the years I don’t even read them anymore (shhhh), but I’d imagine it said yoga is a sport, not liable for injuries, if the goat eats you, you knew what you were signing up for blah blah blah, common sense stuff.
Coco’s Ranch is home to Nigerian Dwarf Goats, at the time of my goga experience, the youngest goat was 5 weeks old and the oldest was 8 years old! The babies are small but the older ones are actually quite big and not very ‘dwarfy’! I’m actually scared of dogs and them jumping up on me, but I never felt threatened by the goats even when they jumped up on me. They are actually a very social animal and enjoy being around people. We were told the correct way to pick up and handle a goat, if we wanted to, they love cuddles! Their eyes are AMAZING. There is a small grass area where the practice takes place. The goats weren’t forced to join in, if they wanted to be around us, they could, if they wanted to wander away and have some space, they were given it.
Goat Yoga Practice
During the actual practice, we were asked to put our cameras away, just like a regular yoga session (I asked if I could set my GoPro up and just let it run and that was ok…). We started the yoga practice by walking around the goat’s enclosure, some of us walked around carrying the baby goats.
It wasn’t like a regular yoga session where I find I can properly zone out, but that’s OK! I love the way Coco’s Ranch advertise on their Facebook page that: “yoga mats and laughter provided’, after all laughter is good for you too! And when a goat sneezes and farts at the same time, I dare you not to laugh! It also made for an interesting challenge, at one point I was in a Tree pose, proper balancing, only one leg touching the ground, and I had a goat munching grass and bumping into my leg…surprisingly my balance is a lot better than I thought!
Another example, I was in a Bird Dog pose with my leg and my arm out and a goat walked right under my leg…and then stayed there!! I thought it was brilliant but I really didn’t know quite what to do with my leg!
We were encouraged to reach out and touch the goats rather than ignore them and pretend like they weren’t there, after all animals are meant to help with putting you into a calming state.
The staff at the Ranch were amazing. They really made us feel comfortable and the practice was ‘gentle’ which focuses on breathing and alignment and is the type of yoga I enjoy doing best. They also told us we were in control of how ‘goaty’ we wanted our goat yoga to be. If it was not enough, they’d bring the goats closer to us, if it was too goaty and overwhelming they’d move them away. During Child’s pose, if we wanted to, they placed one of the smaller goats onto our flat backs. It felt nice, similar to how a weighted blanket would feel!
I also loved the element that the goats provided during the start and finishing parts of the practice. We were told to concentrate on sounds that were far away, I could hear things like the birds, trees, cars in the distance…but then when it came to focusing on the close up sounds it was goats bleating and crunching grass! It really made you aware of the surroundings!
OK, I should also mention that of course there is goat poop around. I found that for the most part I stayed fairly clean. The goat poop is just like little tiny pellets that can be flicked away and aren’t that messy. I got a little bit on the bottom of my shoe and there was a little on the mat at the end but it has to be expected, it is a farm after all! We were also warned that the goats like to sometimes pee on the yoga mats, I don’t think this happened during our session but there was the option to mop it up or exchange mats, if we were that bothered.
At the very end, we could take photos with the goats and the staff were happy to assist. By this point the goats thought of us like family and were happy to have even more cuddles!
What To Wear For Goat Yoga
This was honestly the hardest decision of all! I pride myself on my packing for travels but I just did not know what to wear! They do say ‘dress for the weather’ whether it’s going to be cold or hot. I went on a really hot morning and didn’t want to sweat like an absolute pig (pig? goat? do goats even sweat?!).
Goats are known for eating everything and usually I would wear big baggy ‘parachute’ shorts or trousers/pants. So my first thought was to ‘go tight’ and I was going to wear leggings but it was far too hot, so ended up just wearing a pair of cheap swim shorts that I had bought in Walmart! Turns out there was a mix of all of these! Some people wore shorts like me, others wore full length lycra, others wore 3/4 length lycra capris. My shorts did get nibbled a few times but nothing major! I did get one small scratch on my thigh from when a goat jumped up on me, but I really wasn’t bothered by that and its little hooves don’t actually hurt. Wearing ‘longer’ lycra may be worthwhile if this is something you may be bothered by.
As for a top, I ended up just going with a tank top. Again, I didn’t know whether or not to cover up my back with a t-shirt or just ‘dress for the weather’. People had both tank tops and t-shirts! During the end part of the session a goat did jump up and put its hooves on the top part of my back, no scratches on anything, just some muddy little hoof prints on my skin!
I kept my socks on, others took theirs off, it really was a complete mix.
Information on Goat Yoga at Coco’s Ranch
The session was limited to 12 people, it was a nice number to create a sense of community and fun without being too empty or too over crowded! They also asked participants to be over the age of 18.
Yoga mats were provided, you just had to take a bottle of water and a towel (if you wanted). At the end, they provided an essential oil hand scrub soap and a means of being able to wash your hands and feet. Coco’s Ranch also provide nature bug spray because obviously you are in a rural setting and there are bugs!
I booked my session online via the Iowa Goat Yoga Facebook page. It was all very easy, they list all the sessions on the ‘event’ page and you just message to say which one you’d like to attend. The session lasts roughly 1 hour and costs $20. I paid through PayPal, I was sent an invoice and the payment secured my spot.
Overall, I thought the experience was brilliant! I’m pretty sure you know what you’re signing up for when you decide to do goat yoga. It pretty much is exactly what it says on the tin, get muddy, have fun, laugh and embrace the experience for everything that it is!
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