Naaamaste: Goat yoga gains popularity in Edmonton area

What started as a whim in Oregon last year has now become a bonafide craze across North America, and it's arrived in the Edmonton area.

An animal sanctuary in Wetaskiwin says the classes with goats are quickly selling out

People from across Alberta have been lining up for the privilege of doing yoga with goats. (FARRM/Facebook)

Now you can work on your downward dog or cobra pose with the help of goats.

Yes. Goat yoga is a thing. 

What started as a whim in Oregon last year has now become a bonafide craze across North America, and it's arrived in the Edmonton area.

The Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement (FARRM) Animal Sanctuary just outside of Wetaskiwin hosts classes with the bleating creatures twice a month.

People don't seem to mind a bit of hay and goat poop on their yoga mats — yogis from across Alberta have been lining up for the privilege since the classes launched in late May.

It's now sold out until August.

'People are super excited'

"People are super excited. It gives people a chance to interact with the animals," said Chantelle Theroux, the yoga instructor who leads the classes.

Known for their curiosity, climbing skills and tendency to devour garbage, the goats do tend to be a little distracting, but participants are embracing the chaos.

"There are no advanced postures or aggressive flow yoga postures being done," Theroux said.

Any time I've been leading a session and a goat walks up to interact with someone, the yoga halts until the goat goes elsewhere.- Chantelle Theroux, goat yoga instructor

The goats don't actually do any poses, but they do stretch, nuzzle and generally run amok during the outdoor sessions.

"Any time I've been leading a session and a goat walks up to interact with someone, the yoga halts until the goat goes elsewhere, but they don't seem to mind."

If goats aren't your thing, FARRM's classes often include other members of their barnyard, including chickens, baby lambs and portly pigs.

For FARRM, it's a fun way to fundraise for their ever-growing brood of rescued farm animals, and raise awareness of animal welfare issues.

Since they were founded five years ago, FARRM has rescued more than 350 animals from the Edmonton area and across the Prairies. The volunteer-driven organization relies on public donations.

Melissa Foley, the founder of FARRM, said not all goat yoga programs sprung from the barnyard fitness fad have the best of intentions. FARRM's classes offer an "ethical alternative," Foley said.

"The reality for animal lovers is that people are going and doing it, and they don't realize that they're doing yoga with animals that are going to slaughtered in a few months," Foley said.

"It leaves a pretty bad taste in your mouth if you really look into it. We just wanted to offer a nicer alternative for people. These are animals that are going to live out their days here."

If goats aren't your thing, the classes include a menagerie of farm animals, like this portly pig. (Living through the Lens Photography)

'It's really nice to see them relax'

Human participants aren't the only ones finding their zen during the classes. Even the animals seem to relax, Foley said.

"We've found in all the yoga sessions that we've been doing that the animals really want to come, hang around and sleep," Foley said.

'We have one goat, Daisy. She's blind. So [she] kind of spins and she's always really frantic, but when we're doing yoga, she's one of the first animals that lies down and settles in.

"It's really nice to see them relax in a way that I didn't think they would."

The classes are $20 per person.

More information on upcoming classes is available on FARRM's Facebook page.

Doing with yoga with farm animals is less about technique and more about interacting with animals, said FARRM founder Melissa Foley. (Living through the Lens Photography)

With files from Ariel Fournier