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Where to Get Your Goat Yoga On

Should you Namaste or should you goat?

Well, now you can do both.

Some people are calling goat yoga the latest fitness craze. But it’s not so much about fitness, per se. In fact, it’s a lot more about goats.

And, if you’ve already made friends with any of the goats of Southern California, it’s pretty clear why this trend has caught on so quickly — and not just locally, but also across the country.

Goats are small, friendly, domesticated animals with a natural sense of curiosity that love to climb. They may not bleat in Sanskrit, but they have a certain intuition and are acclimated enough to humans to understand what’s going on when the chaturangas begin.

What has become a national phenomenon actually feels like a perfectly natural way of life for Southern Californians. Sun salutations just don’t feel right inside a yoga studio under artificial lighting. Here, you can take your mat outside and salute the actual sun.

Besides, those of us who don’t fit the clichés of chakras and kale cleanses still love to cuddle with baby animals and hang out on a farm for an hour or two. And if that means we’ve got to strike a few poses on a mat or a blanket just so we can wait for a darling newborn kid to climb atop our laps and backs, then so be it.

Commence the downward goat!

Lavenderwood Yoga
Sandi Hemmerlein

There’s something about goat yoga that’s so much more accessible than what you may think of the ancient practice on its own, if you’re not already a yogi yourself. It doesn’t matter if you can’t hold the one-legged “tree” pose as long as you’re supposed to — because there are baby goats sniffing around underfoot. It doesn’t matter if you can’t perfectly line up your “warrior” pose — because baby goats are nibbling nearby.

And it doesn’t matter if you can’t bend as far into your “child’s” pose as the person next to you can — because a baby goat will inevitably jump on your back to help you deepen the stretch.

Most of all, you don’t have to do any yoga at all. You can just sit on the ground and wait for the goats to come smother you with kisses.

Since not all goats are created equal, the goat yoga experience can vary. But, no matter which class you try, you should follow this rule of thumb: Wear comfortable clothes you wouldn’t mind getting some hoof prints on and bring a mat or blanket that’s easily laundered.

After all, baby goats aren’t litter-trained or in diapers — so, when they gotta go, they go.

As more and more goat farms bring in yoga, and as more and more yoga studios bring in goats, the goat yoga experience will certainly change. But for right now, here are the five best places to take your yoga practice to the farm — and find your zen in the cutest way possible.

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1. Lavenderwood Yoga, Thousand Oaks

Located on a residential street just on the other side of the Ventura County line, Lavenderwood Farm is probably the best place to dip your toe into goat yoga. The goats here are particularly friendly and don’t need much convincing — most of the younger ones love to be picked up and will jump on you or nuzzle you without provocation. The class itself is very “come as you are” and the students are a mix of experts and newbies, as well as everything in between. And if you thought goats in sweaters were adorable, wait till you see baby goats in pajamas. Most classes are offered in either the early morning or late afternoon to stick to the cooler hours, although the farm has started experimenting with BYO (Bring Your Own) wine meet-and-greets following yoga classes conducted in the early evening. The program supports youth agriculture, so the purchase of your ticket goes to a good cause. And best of all, the class size is kept small, so there’s plenty of room and an ideal goat-to-student ratio.

Lavenderwood Yoga
Sandi Hemmerlein
Lavenderwood Yoga
Sandi Hemmerlein

2. Sunny Cabana Farms, Perris

The goats at this family-run farm and micro-dairy in Riverside County are incredibly friendly and cuddly. They’ll let you pick them up and they’ll snuggle into your neck. But they’re not circus animals — so they might need a little help jumping on top of you while you’re on all fours in “cat-cow” pose. Here, the newborns aren’t separated from their mothers and aren’t hand-reared by humans – so you can be sure that kidding season at Sunny Cabana is as humane as possible. Bring plenty of water and wear plenty of sunscreen for those hot and sunny days in the Inland Empire. And after the yoga session (which is thankfully conducted under a shade structure and on top of some soft dirt), adjourn to the tasting room to try some house-made goat cheeses, also available for purchase as part of Sunny Cabana’s farm stand offerings. In addition to chevre, you can also bring home other grass-fed goat’s milk products, including some nice “farmaceutical”-grade soaps and lotions. Even better, everything is non-GMO and free of corn, soy, antibiotics and hormones. The farm is currently working towards becoming certified organic.

Sunny Cabana Farms
Sandi Hemmerlein
Sunny Cabana Farms
Sandi Hemmerlein

3. Oats and Ivy Farm, Somis

You may have already encountered Oats and Ivy products at one of the farmer’s markets in either Camarillo or Westlake Village — but now, the farm has partnered with Lux Milk and Sun Kissed Yoga to bring students to their 10-acre property to practice vinyasa amongst the avocado trees and over 70 animals, which include ducks, chickens and, of course, the goats. The small herd is comprised of a purebred Nigerian Dwarf and a few LaMancha and Nigerian Dwarf hybrids, whose milk is used to produce a number of goat soaps that are available for purchase in the Oats and Ivy store on Etsy. Once you meet the dairy goats, though, it’s easy to forget what they’ve been domesticated for — because they make such good companions. Just try not to crack a smile as you watch the babies wobble around. It’s a welcome distraction, even when you’re supposed to be concentrating on your asanas. At least those wobbly legs can make your worries disappear for an hour or so.

Oats and Ivy Farm | Colin Brown
Goats from Oats and Ivy Farm | Colin Brown
Oats and Ivy Farm | Colin Brown
Goats from Oats and Ivy Farm | Colin Brown

4. The Blissful Goat, San Marcos

True to its name, this goat yoga experience is sure to put you in a state of bliss — but it also might make you fall in love with more than just the goats. The Blissful Goat has started capitalizing on the goat yoga trend to host singles’ mixers — because what better way is there to bring two lonely-hearts together than the shared love for goats? Aimed at the 30-something to 50-something set, these events for singles are more like light stretching sessions, but you should still bring a mat and a sense of adventure. And while you’re at it, come with an open heart — because even if you don’t feel any animal attraction to any of your fellow human students, you’re sure to fall in love with one of the four-legged ones. And what’s more, since there’s a unique spiritual component to communing with these frisky and lively livestock, The Blissful Goat has taken its foray into yoga to another level by offering goat yoga teacher training workshops. After all, why keep goat yoga all to yourself when you can enlighten others?  

The Blissful Goat
The Blissful Goat
The Blissful Goat
The Blissful Goat

5. Hello Critter Goat Yoga, Los Angeles

Not surprisingly, the goat yoga movement in L.A. has a distinctly showbiz angle to it. It arose out of Hire Our Party Goats, which — with former child actor Scout (née Jessica) Raskin at the helm — hires out its goats for film shoots, birthday parties and other events. Her two Nigerian Dwarfs have been trained well to respond to treats — so it was a natural evolution to partner with the Hello Critter Care pet service and place those treats strategically on the not-so-unsuspecting backs of yogis and yoginis. Because there isn’t an entire herd of goats to be had — and certainly not enough goats to satisfy the incredible demand for them — Hello Critter has moved its classes from the Bette Davis Picnic Area in Griffith Park to a nearby barnyard in Glendale. Over there, you can also cuddle up to a miniature horse named Claude as well as a pig named Winifred and some baby ducks. The demand for these sessions has been huge, and capacity has not been limited in the past, so get there early to get a good spot and plenty of time with the critters.

Hello Critter/Party Goats
Sandi Hemmerlein
Hello Critter/Party Goats
Sandi Hemmerlein

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