Yoga with animals is trending lately. And if you ask me, it’s for good reason. If you ask others, they may say something else. I’m here to share my perspective on yoga with animals; you may have a different view, and that’s fine! I encourage you to form your own opinion about it. You do you. I’ll explain why I support yoga with animals then tell you allll about my experiences (don’t worry, cute photos included).
These are the top four reasons why I support yoga with animals:
- Animals are wonderful for stress relief. Anyone come home after a long day at work and just melt petting your cat or your dog? Research shows us, time and time again, that connecting with an animal has vast benefits–lower blood pressure, increased oxytocin, and a general mood increase. Combine that with yoga, another surefire way to decrease stress, and you’ve got a mood booster waiting to happen.
- Yoga should be accessible. If you scroll through Instagram, yoga might look like fancy handstands and seemingly impossible binds. But real yoga can be anything–meditation, light movement, a hot power vinyasa class, a walk, whatever. As a yoga teacher, I want as many people in the world to be doing yoga as possible. If yoga with animals is the bridge that brings someone to a yoga practice, count me in!
- Yoga should be fun. There is almost no greater joy that bursting into laughter during a yoga class. Laughs are inevitable when goats are jumping on you or kittens are trying to climb up your leg in extended mountain pose. Yoga, like life, ought not to be taken so seriously.
- Yoga has changed SO much over the years. Did you know the OG yoga only had 15 asanas (or poses)? We are way past that now, so why can’t we introduce other forms of yoga? Paddleboard yoga, aerial yoga, acro yoga. All of it. It’s all yoga because yoga means connecting your mind to your body. Perhaps yoga purists would argue that yoga with animals is sacrilegious, but as with any tradition, as long as you’re respectful of the roots, I think you get to make of it what you want, in a way that serves you.
I was lucky enough to experience the Original Goat Yoga in Corvallis. I took a class with a dear friend and was smiling the whole time. You don’t use your own mat because, weeeelll, the goats may poop on the mat. It’s easy to swipe it off though. Goat Yoga started in Corvallis, but has since spread all over the country (world?). The goats seem to enjoy people and were eager to jump on human backs when we were in tabletop. They’re sort of cuddly too, which I didn’t expect. I love gifting a Goat Yoga class for birthdays because it’s something most people would love, but may not buy for themselves.
One of my local animal shelters puts on Kitty Yoga in the dog training room (basically a big empty room). A local yoga teacher donates her time and the proceeds go straight to the shelter. I think I paid $10 for it, and would 100% do it again. The kittens were fresh out of foster care and were a little skittish being around so many people but watching them interact with each other was cuteness enough.
Puppy Yoga was the same deal as Kitty Yoga–$10 donation for an hour of yoga and playing with puppies. They were the most active out of all animal yoga I’ve done and they were loving being around so many people. This might have been one of my favorite yoga classes I’ve ever done because, at one point, all the yogis decided to put our mats in a circle facing each other, so we could see all the puppies in the middle. That connection and mutual love for the pups was an awesome moment. The coolest part was that all four pups were up for adoption starting the next day. It was hard to not fall in love with one of them. (No, I did not adopt one, but I was SO tempted).
Overall, I’m a big advocate of yoga, in whatever form resonates with you. I happen to resonate with animal yoga. I love moving my body mindfully and I love looking at cute animals. It’s the mash-up I never knew I needed.
Has anyone else done yoga with a different kind of animal? Or maybe another non-traditional form of yoga? I’m all about it. Comment here on on Instagram. Find me at @kellyinoregon.
Thanks for reading! Check back soon.