AHEAD OF THE HEARD — If a recent article in the Calgary Herald is to be believed, goat yoga is taking North America by storm. At first one presumes that goats are now practicing yoga to soothe their anxiety and stress to reach goat spiritual enlightenment. Who knew goats could engage in such flights of mental and physical discipline – surely we have all underestimated the esoteric mind of the humble goat. That may explain the curious behaviour of the caprine variety known as “fainting goats.” But then, surly goats are notorious for obnoxious antics like jumping on parked cars and climbing onto roofs – maybe yoga will help with rehabilitating such annoying behaviour. But there is more to the story.
What the story is really about is the curious (some might call it nonsensical) new fad where yoga practitioners (I prefer to call them yogaistas) gather at a local goat owners’ property and engage in yoga mind-melding with goats. Yogaistas are herded into a corral with the goats where they lay out their yoga mats, engage in various yogic poses and let the goats approach them whilst in a state of meditative bliss. Somehow the goats are supposed to calm or stimulate the yogaistas to ever higher levels of insightfulness and mental peace. What the goats see in all this human peculiarity remains a mystery, but they are undoubtedly interested in the grain treats the yogaistas hand out – I guess the goats get the last laugh. Goat owners must also get a big laugh by renting out their facilities and goats to these new-age yoga thrill seekers.
Goat owners in their wildest fantasies probably never imagined that there would be folks who would actually pay to sit in a corral to commune with their goats. Forget goat milk, meat and mohair production, the real money is in esoteric goat yoga visitation. There is no real work involved for the owner except in keeping the animals alive – no milking, meat processing or shearing – this is too good to be true. Apparently, any old goat will do – although I expect malodourous and unruly adult male billy goats are kept away from the odour sensitivities of the city folks. Cute and cuddly goat kids are likely more preferable, but like human kids their attention span may be limited. Interestingly, the biggest fears these folks have is stepping into goat manure (they refer to it with a more genteel name – goat seed) or of goats eating their precious yoga mats – I expect they probably taste better than tin cans. But I digress.
There are all kinds of opportunities for entrepreneurial goat owners to promote their yoga friendly facilities, including added features like organic, free-range, all natural goats. Goats trained not to defecate and urinate during a yoga session to spare yogaistas any visual unpleasantries. They could sell photos and hair of a yogaista’s favourite inspirational goats for them to cherish at home. They could arrange private yoga counselling sessions with particularly popular and sensitive goats. They could arrange goat adoption services. The money-making opportunities would seem endless.
This new goat enterprise should be an example to other livestock producers to diversify. How about offering athletic groups an activity called calisthenics with cows – or better yet use bulls to add that extra edge of excitement – like having to run for your life. I suspect bulls probably don’t share the same elevated levels of serenity and patience of yoga goats. How about pilates with pigs? Pilates is sort of like yoga but without the philosophy. That may be better suited to pig behaviour being they are probably less likely to engage in stimulating mental telepathy than the more cerebral goats.
One thing for sure – there’s probably some university researcher applying for government grant money to study the impact of yoga collaboration on goat behaviour. Research may discover that goats suffer from mental stress arising from having to put up with idiotic humans trying to achieve nirvana on their bedding grounds. There may be a job opportunity here for goat psychotherapy counsellors. It all boggles the mind.
I need to mention the excellent work done by people and agencies involved in pet and horse therapy. That interaction with animals provides support and solace to many individuals who suffer mental health issues. Much of that work is carried out by dedicated volunteers and they are to be commended for their sincere efforts. Silly and self-indulgent goat yoga engagement is not to be confused with this important work.