Photos: 'Goat Yoga' Is Now Apparently A Thing
By Jennifer Swann
“If you feel a goat walking on top of you, it’s considered an adjustment,” said Tina Marrin as she stretched her back forward and reached her arms above her head into a child’s pose.
It was a drizzly Saturday morning and nearly 50 people were spread out in a circle around Marrin for a yoga class on the grassy northern edge of Griffith Park. Meandering within the maze of yoga mats were Spanky and Pippin, two baby goats who hopped onto the flattened backs and chests of strangers when prompted with treats from their trainer, Scout Raskin.
The practice known simply as goat yoga—or yoga that involves the aid of small goats, who typically lend their charm rather than their dexterity—has become something of a trend in recent months, with viral videos of farm animals mounting plank-posed yogis having racked up thousands of views on YouTube. The pastoral pastime, which winningly combines mild exercise with adorable baby animals, has been reported mostly in small farm towns across America, from Virginia and New Hampshire to Oregon and Colorado. But the goat yoga session being held last weekend, in a stretch of park so tranquil you’d forget it was straddled by the 5 and 134 freeway interchange if it weren’t for the hum of nearby traffic, appears to be the first of its kind in Los Angeles.
In a city that practically invented gimmicky yoga classes—stoner yoga, deep bass yoga, helipad yoga, and Drake and Beyoncé-themed yoga are all well within yogic reach—maybe it’s unsurprising that people are flocking to one that feels more like a farm retreat than a high-end gym. Unlike other offerings, this one isn’t held in a nightclub or on top of a skyscraper, there’s no sound system or cover charge, and it’s so wholesome that even toddlers and their moms are doing it. Rest assured, it is also incredibly, undeniably Instagram-worthy.
Michelle Tritten, a longtime animal lover who has a barn in her backyard near Griffith Park, organized the first goat yoga class last month to coincide with Earth Day. She’s owned goats since she was a teenager, but it wasn’t until several months ago that her friends began sending her YouTube videos featuring goat yoga that she decided to start her own. She asked a friend to lead the instruction and about ten people showed up to the inaugural event, she says, during which her two full-grown goats, twin sisters Horns and Chop Chop, roamed the park but didn’t climb on top of any of the participants.
If the first class was met with mild interest, then the second class drew ravenous fanaticism, spreading organically through social media. By the time last weekend rolled around, more than 300 people had RSVP’d to the public Facebook event and 1,400-plus people said they were interested. The unusually gloomy weather may have contributed to lower turnout, which was probably for the best since it was near impossible to hear Marrin’s instructions from even the second row of the group (But it’s not like anyone was paying attention to anything but the goats, anyway).
“It just turned into a completely different thing than what we had expected,” Tritten says. “I want to figure out a way to serve the need for goat yoga in L.A. and have more manageable classes.”
Adding to the appeal—and the chaos—of the most recent yoga class were new additions Spanky and Pippin, brought by Tritten’s friend Raskin, who became convinced that her baby animals were the perfect size for a more hoofs-on experience of goat yoga. An out-of-work production manager, Raskin bought the Nigerian dwarf goats from a farm last month as an investment after her previous employer, the Cartoon Network show Rick and Morty, went on hiatus. Despite never having owned goats before, she quickly got to work teaching them tricks and posing them for photos and videos in her La Tuna Canyon backyard.
Through her new venture, Party Goats, the precocious three-month-old siblings have been hired for birthday parties, photo shoots, and baby showers. Raskin eventually hopes to break them into the TV and film industry, but for now, she says the timing couldn’t be better to capitalize on the goat yoga phenomenon, particularly while Spanky and Pippin are still small enough to participate. “I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth while they’re little,” she says.
Even as small as the goats are now at 15 pounds each, their weight still comes as a shock when they hop on top of you. Angela Shin, one of the yoga participants, remembers thinking, “It hurts, but I like what’s happening.”
But not everyone was thrilled by Pippin and Spanky, who reportedly left several souvenirs behind for the group. “One peed on his towel,” says Denisse Villa, pointing to the person who sat next to her during the yoga session. “That just means he got the full experience.”
Michelle Tritten plans to host the next goat yoga class on May 20 and every other Saturday after that at Bette Davis Picnic Area located at 1850 Riverside Drive in Glendale. Check Hello Critter’s Facebook page for updates.
Jennifer Swann is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. Invite her to all of your goat parties.