‘Kids’ walk all over teachers: goat yoga prepares teachers for school year
Oct 01, 2019 11:12AM
By Jet Burnham
(Jet Burnham/City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Yoga can be a peaceful experience.
But for teachers at Columbia Elementary, there were too many “kids” climbing all over them to be able to relax. The “kids,” which were actually baby goats, were part of the goat yoga session arranged by their principal Abe Yospe, who loves goats.
“This is a very stressful time of the year for our teachers as they get ready for the new year,” Yospe said. “So, to have a 40-minute block where they can just get together, bond and have just a good time—it's a great start.”
A yoga instructor guided the staff members through poses to help reduce their stress levels as they prepared for the first day of school. But there was more laughter than deep breathing during the hourlong session which took place in the school gym.
“I knew it wouldn’t be exactly a Zen place,” said Tiffany Jessop, who was trying to relax before facing a new batch of kindergarteners the following week while her colleagues squealed in the background.
A few faculty members were hesitant to let the hooved animals jump on them, but even the spectators got an abdominal workout, laughing at the antics of the goats. Eight goats scrambled on and off the participants’ backs and outstretched limbs. The animals nibbled on their hair ties and water bottles, and randomly urinated on their yoga mats.
Yospe said the class was even funnier than he thought it was going to be.
“You’ve got to try it at least once,” Yospe said. “You'll laugh harder than you've probably ever laughed.”
Yopse said it was one of the best professional development days they’ve had at Columbia.
“The goats felt so good on your back,” he said. “And then the laughter that we had just added to the whole experience. It was just so much fun. My favorite part was seeing my faculty bond and laugh together.”
Paige Hamblin, a manager at Utah Goga Guys, said the goat yoga—or goga—classes are meant to be fun and interactive.
“We don’t promote any sort of Zen-feel in the class,” Hamblin said. “We want people to scream and laugh and have a good time. That’s what they’re here for—just to help people forget about everything other than the goats and stretching out and trying to relax.”
She said animal therapy also enhances the experience.
“Especially around here, not a lot of people get a lot of interaction with farm animals,” she said. The teachers had fun interacting with the goats, taking their pictures and feeding them graham crackers.
The goats are not trained in any way to enhance the yoga experience, said Hamblin. They just naturally climb onto people when they are low enough to the ground.
As a fan of goats, Yospe convinced students last year that he kept a herd of goats in the school’s basement.
“Maybe next year I'll tell them we have pigs in the basement, so maybe we'll have pig yoga next year,” he said.