Forget ice yoga, scrap your plans for Harry Potter-themed bending and breathing , even cancel your reservations at Italy’s first wine and yoga retreat, because the latest craze in this Unesco-listed spiritual pursuit is goat yoga – and it’s finally arrived in Europe, thanks to one farm in Amsterdam.
For three years, yogi Brenda Bood had been running yoga lessons on the Ridammerhoeve Goat Farm near the Dutch capital, but it wasn’t until her friends emailed videos about a farm in Oregon that offered yoga classes with goats that the next step in her business fell into place. The YouTube clips showed goats inquisitively play with pupils in varying yoga positions.
Since then, Bood has found that her Saturday lessons are fully booked and she is currently looking for ways to fit more classes in each week. Speaking to Lonely Planet, Bood said: ‘last autumn people kept sending me videos of Lainey’s goat yoga in Oregon and asking me if I could organise yoga with goats too. In the beginning I thought it was a bit weird and funny but I found out it’s a really good way for people to connect with nature, animals and their body at the same time.’
Bood believes that goats and yoga go well together because the animals are curious and ‘contact-minded’, which means that they’ll often nibble on yoga mats or on the hair of a pupil. She said: ‘[human] bodies produce oxytocin when they are in contact with an animal. This neurotransmitter relaxes your body so you can imagine that yoga postures are done in a different way when your body already is relaxed, it’s more flexible.’
So are there any particular yoga positions that work well with goats? ‘It’s unpredictable, really,’ Bood tells LP. ‘Every time I think that one posture will work […] they do something different than the week before. That’s the fun thing, they really mirror us. In general, postures where we are lying on the mat make it easy for them to join you. But hey, we want to have a balanced class with standing postures too.’
The farm also has a number of cows and horses, but Brood can confirm that there aren’t any plans for Yoga Lesje to include them just yet. ‘I don’t think I would feel safe coming up in downward dog with big animals around me,’ she said.
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