Goat Yoga Richardson, a grassroots organization that offers classes all over the DFW Metroplex, began with just four goats, neighborhood friends and founder Amanda Henderson’s backyard.
The concept of goat yoga originated on a farm in Albany, Oregon in late 2016 and has since become a popular trend across the country. It consists of yoga classes where goats have open access to interact with the participants by cuddling, jumping or climbing on them. Participants are encouraged to play with the goats as they go through the yoga routines by giving them treats and petting them.
“It was crazy, you know — obviously it has become quite the trend, but we were not expecting that,” Henderson said. “We were just doing yoga in our backyard with our four pet goats.”
Henderson said the challenges involved with launching Goat Yoga Richardson had less to do with business and more to do with learning about the maintenance and health of the goats with limited amounts of resources for goats as pets instead of livestock.
“The research that’s been done about having goats in our lifetime (has) really only been done with the thought that goats are being raised only for meat or milk,” Henderson said. “Well, that was not what my goats were for, and so I was trying to treat them like pets and there really isn’t a lot of information out there if you’re raising a goat.”
Henderson said her goal in creating Goat Yoga Richardson was to appreciate the connections that animals can have with people. She said another goal was to see more interaction with animals of all kinds and for that to become more widely accepted and available.
“For the most part, (the feedback) is just sheer joy and smiles,” Henderson said. “That carefree feeling that you get after an active and hilarious activity.”
The goats of Goat Yoga Richardson lack any sort of formal training. Rather, they are encouraged to socialize with the yogis through treats that are given to them throughout the lessons. Henderson said for the goats, watching the others also helps them to realize that the yoga lessons are a fun experience that bring with them excitement and love.
“I don’t think you have to train them to hop or be curious or be funny,” Henderson said. “You don’t have to teach goats that. If they feel comfortable, they just naturally do it.”
Henderson said the classes offered by Goat Yoga Richardson are often sold out because the class sizes are relatively small. The sessions can have anywhere from 30 to 80 people in attendance. Goat Yoga Richardson will be hosting an event at UTD on March 25.
“We’re looking to keep (our classes) somewhat intimate, so the goats have a chance to get to know everybody, hang out, do what they’re going to do,” Henderson said.
She said the best aspect of goat yoga, in her opinion, is interacting with the goats. She said they are naturally funny, curious and friendly.
“I just think they’re the best,” Henderson said. “I think my goats are the best goats.”