With styles such as Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) yoga, Naked yoga, Cannabis yoga, and Beer yoga popping up in studios across the country, it seems like yoga couldn’t drift any further from its roots.
However, there is a new style popping up in several cities across the United States—yoga with animals. Yeah, you read that right, practicing yoga with your dog, cat, horse or even goat is becoming an actual thing! So, is this new trend lame or legit?
The intention behind these classes seems to vary greatly. Some are practiced in shelters to increase animal adoptions, while others are solely a novelty.
Take Horseback yoga, for example. Practiced at least in part on a horse’s back, it’s said to connect the rider with their horse through conscious breathing and subtle movement, just as yoga is meant to connect the practitioner to their spirit.
Then we have Doga: yes, that’s right, yoga with dogs.
Doga is a partner style class, where dogs take the place of another human being. Downward-Facing Dog and Upward-Facing Dog may be named after our canine friends, but in Doga humans guide their pups into a variety of yoga poses.
And then there is Goat yoga, which seems to be the hottest yoga trend at the moment. Lainey Morse, creator of this unique trend, started Goat yoga as a community class on her farm where goats roam freely.
Class ends with a “goat happy hour” where practitioners can take photos with their furry friends. The goats are less involved as opposed to Doga or Horseback yoga, but they still make the whole experience light and fun.
Animal shelters have learned how to work the yoga with animals trend to their advantage. Centers such as the Good Mews cat shelter outside of Atlanta offers yoga in the shelter. These cats live cage-free, and yoga night gives them a chance to interact with humans and vice-versa.
While yoga with animals can involve different types of animals, it’s the intention that differentiates one class from another.
Yoga classes at animal shelters, for example, are an awesome way to make adoptable dogs and cats visible to the public. These classes draw in those who aren’t actively searching for furry friend, making them more aware of the importance of animal adoption.
It’s hard to take the other styles very seriously, although it’s easy to imagine that they bring happiness to everyone who takes part.
Being around animals is uplifting, as we’re quickly able to give and receive their love, and their playfulness is always entertaining.
Practicing yoga while goats wander in between you and your neighbor would definitely add humor to your yoga practice. Plus, practicing outdoors on a gorgeous farm is an experience that can be very uplifting. And getting on your mat or horse to practice yoga with your canine or equestrian friend would surely be fun, if not challenging.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine that yoga with animals would deepen your yoga practice. While asana is meant to be a tool for the mind to go inward such as focusing on your breath while practicing a Handstand, adding an unpredictable and less focused animal into the mix is a distraction.
In the end, whatever brings people to their yoga mats is a good thing. Perhaps someone’s very first yoga class starts in an animal shelter, but ends with many years of serious practice. Start superficially and eventually you’ll end up in the same place as the world’s most spiritual yogis.