Sun girl joins in the latest celebrity fitness craze – GOAT yoga

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I’M fine with doing the downward dog or the cat pose in a yoga class. But the whiffy goat? And I mean a real goat? You’ve got to be kidding.

Well actually, it seems not. Animals have become the must-have accessory for fashionable exercise fans, with broadcaster Emily Maitlis the latest to post snaps of her workout with a goat — and nearly being mounted by it, as it appeared in one shot.

Fitness reporter Jenny Francis has been to her fair share of yoga classes – but she has never had to dodge animal poo and pee in the process.
James Lincoln

So it was with slight apprehension, rather than serene spiritual calm, that I turned up at Skylark Farm, wellies at the ready and the stench of cow pats in my nostrils, to find out what this goat yoga malarkey was all about.

Thankfully, I didn’t need my bag of outdoor gear, and instead soon found myself sat on a yoga mat, basking in sunshine, surrounded by beautiful countryside.

My yoga teacher, Diana Malone — founder of the DM Yoga school — invited me to close my eyes and talked me through some meditative breathing. It was all very calming.

That is, until a curious goat approached and began nibbling the bottom of the mat.

After newsreader Emily Maitlis revealed her love for goat yoga, Jenny decided to try the latest celebrity fitness craze for herself

My concentration was immediately broken, but my spirits were lifted as the nanny came over to investigate the curious Londoner who had ventured on to her farm.

But before I could do too much “cooing” over my new farmyard friend, the real yoga began.

If there’s one thing I know about goats, it’s that they like to climb on to things. So when I got into a downward dog pose — a sort of triangle position with hands and feet on the floor, butt in the air — I don’t know why I was alarmed to find a goat, poised and ready to jump aboard.

“Embrace the smells,” said Diana as my goaty pal and her mates started peppering my yoga mat with droppings. It was impossible not to. The stench of goat was so strong it was pretty much all I could “embrace”.

Kate Beckinsale showed fans she can successfully balance a goat on her posterior
Instagram

I was also getting that horrible itch you get when bits of straw make their way under your clothes and begin chafing your skin.

It’s funny, I’ve been doing yoga on and off for eight years and usually spend the entire session trying and failing to clear my mind, tune into my body and let go of any distractions.

Well, I challenge any keen yogi to balance on one leg while trying to ignore the fact that two goats are wandering around that same leg, another is biting holes in your leggings and there’s a distinct chance another is about to pee on your mat.

Fast forward to the next position, in which I got down on all fours, while a battle took place to see which goat would be first to mount me and begin dry-humping my leg.

Jenny says goat yoga is playful, light-hearted, and, let’s be honest, downright ridiculous
James Lincoln

I laughed it off, but then screamed out as one of the passing goats trod on my hand. Yoga is a continual learning process — and what I learned just then was that a goat hoof is one hell of a knuckle crusher.

But while having the distraction of a herd of curious goats jumping around me went against every zen principle I’d ever been taught, it had a surprisingly positive effect.

Instead of solemn deep breathing as I tried to master the ultimate bird of paradise move, I was giggling at the goat which decided to take a nap beneath me, and revelling in the fact that I could pet my new four-legged friend mid-way through a vinyasa.

Instead of taking the yoga practice deadly seriously, I realised the goats were the ultimate way to make me let go of the adult yogi, and instead invite the kid to the mat. It’s playful, light-hearted, and, let’s be honest, downright ridiculous when you’re dodging goat poo and pee — but I guess that’s the beauty of it.

The class was held at Skylark Farm in the beautiful Suffolk countryside
James Lincoln

And you can’t worry about looking good in a yoga pose if a goat and his mate are trying to mount you. So instead, you surrender any vanity, worry or stress, and just let it go(at).

And that’s exactly what Diana the goga teacher — that’s the term for goat yoga — reckons it’s all about.

She said: “Goga is so great for you in so many ways. Being around animals, especially playful animals like goats, who love human interaction, triggers a release of the happy hormone oxytocin.

“Not only that, but science shows that petting animals and animal interaction reduces your cortisol levels — the stress hormone — so it has twice the benefits.

Goat yoga is also known as ‘goga’
James Lincoln

“Yoga is all about letting go and not worrying what others think. Some let go of stress, others let go of laughter, it’s different for everyone. Also, lots of people who would never have tried yoga before have really got into goga after being attracted by the goats.”

Goat yoga was invented in Oregon, in the US, in 2016 by 46-year-old marketing executive Lainey Morse.

She left her well-paid job to set up goatyoga.net after she went through a divorce and developed auto-immune disease and depression.

She got into yoga, and during one outdoor group session a herd of goats joined them — and she realised the joy it could bring to a class. Lainey now earns a six-figure salary from goat yoga events and merchandise.

Many of the summer classes are fully booked weeks in advance
James Lincoln

Her story reached Skylark Farm boss Emma Aldous in Bawdsey, Suffolk, she contacted Diana and together they brought goga to Britain, holding their first class a year ago.

And while it may all seem a bit mad to travel two hours out of London to spend an hour performing yoga moves in a field of farmyard animals, it has proved surprisingly popular, with many of the summer classes getting fully booked weeks in advance.

After an hour of balancing a hooved animal on various body parts, I was exhausted, and dreamed of hitting the hay the minute I returned home. Unfortunately, that was only going to happen after an hour on a swelteringly train, stinking of goats’ widdle while trying to pick straw out of my hair.

But my verdict on goga? It definitely floats my goat.

  • A goat yoga class at Skylark Farm with dmyoga.co.uk costs £10.50 and classes are held once a fortnight. See skylarkfarmsuffolk.co.uk.

A zoo’s who in fitness

IF the word Yogi made you think of a bear, just wait, and it’ll happen . . . but for now, here are some animal/yoga classes already running.

HORSE: Invented in the US, it’s done on the animal’s back – and is graceful enough to silence the neigh-sayers
Rex Features


LEMUR: Lemoga is done outdoors at Armathwaite Hall in Cumbria – with lemurs apparently copying every move
PA:Press Association
DOG: Doga involves owners and pets doing moves together, like this Indian Army dog unit display
AFP or licensors
CAT: It may have sat on the mat, but now moggies roam around yoga mats during poses – at cat cafes nationwide
Doug Seeburg – The Sun
DOLPHIN: Not quite as intimate as goat yoga, in this version dolphins and humans are separated by glass
New York Times

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