Goat yoga — it’s available in Vail
The centuries-old practice of yoga is based on objects in nature and animals. Popular poses include downward dog, cat-cow and goat. And now you can have actual role models — in Vail — for the latter pose with goat yoga. No kidding.
The trend which began in Portland, Oregon, last year has swept across the country and the United Kingdom. According to CNN, the farm in Albany, Oregon, which started this phenomenon has a waiting list of more than 1,200 who wish to have a goat in addition to a cat-cow.
“Goats are the natural entertainers of the animal world,” said Kym Luck, owner of Vail Stables, explaining the craze. “Life is wonderful to a goat that naturally lives in the present. The adorable appearance of a baby goat is off the charts.”
“Get ready for the best day of your life,” said yoga instructor Mary Gavin at Vail Stables.
‘Lay with goats’
Set in the White River National Forest on Spraddle Creek Road, the scenic beauty is rivaled by the sounds of nature: aspens quaking, horses neighing and Nigerian dwarf goats bleating. These gentle creatures jump on participants backs, settle on laps when yogis meditate and nibble on grass, hair or items of clothing.
The practice begins in silent meditation with goat cuddling on a well-chewed grassy slope. The uneven surface Gavin contends increases balance and awareness.
Gavin even incorporates them in modified poses such as tree with goat in arms — or boat with goat through the legs.
So what happens when participants are more interested in the goats than the physical yoga practice?
That’s OK too, says Gavin, explaining there are eight limbs of yoga which incorporate everything from breathing to the physical practice.
“Meditation is one of the limbs which I find really complements the goat yoga because it can be used as a meditation and practice of mindfulness,” she said. “You can really become aware of your experience in the present moment. It is very meditative to lay with the goats and watch them play.”
At the end of practice students lie in the traditional Shavasana pose again with the addition of a goat on the stomach, nuzzling a neck or chewing hair.
Gavin gently reminds students several times that class is done.
Sisters Emily Peyton, of Wolcott, and Anna Peyton, of Minturn, have been practicing yoga for several years and recently attended their first-but-not-last class.
By the end of the class, Anna was dubbed “goat whisperer” as a few kids ambled to her mat. This is natural, according to Gavin.
“The babies are pretty chill and this is something that is happy and is going on while you are doing your yoga practice,” she said. “A lot of time during your practice your mind may wander, but the goats bring you more into the present moment.”
Luck sees the goats as an aid for those who can be inhibited doing certain poses.
“Yoga may be relaxing to most, but for some of us it points out our inadequacies, such as lack of flexibility, balance and coordination, which is not a lot of fun in a public environment,” Luck said. “Goats are the perfect distraction for the insecurities some people experience in situations that are challenging or uncomfortable or for people who are unhappy or distressed. It’s virtually impossible to focus on our negative feelings when surrounded by goats.”
‘Best Job Ever’
Luck has owned “many, many goats” for more than 15 years. She still delights when the kids amble to her, legs askew tails twitching and bleating, “Maaaaa.”
The 15 goats at Vail Stables are well-looked after and have a break between classes where all their needs are met.
Some needs, however, can’t be controlled and special rubber yoga mats are provided.
“If the goat does his or her businesses on the mat, just flip it over,” Luck advises.
At the end of each class, mats are power washed and sanitized by horse wranglers doubling as goat herders.
Certified yoga instructors are welcome to teach classes.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Gavin said. “I get to teach yoga and hang out with goats.”
She encourages students to share their experience with the hashtag #goatselfie. Naysayers such as PETA and other animal activists question what happens when the baby goats grow up and lose their appeal, but Luck’s cloven-hoofed creatures are Nigerian dwarfs who will remain cute and cuddly and have life-time job security.
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