“My friends are just like, ‘Is that a thing?'” the woman next to me said just before Goat Yoga got started.
Pippin and Spanky had already entered class at Love Yoga studio in Venice. They were Nigerian Dwarf goats, visiting from a farm two hours north. Their horns were wrapped in hippie rainbow ribbons. Two women, from a company called Party Goats, Inc., led them on leashes.
They caused a stir. Goats entering a spare, white, sun-drenched yoga studio full of adults generate the same reaction as a dog entering a grade school classroom. Otherwise chill men and women (well, three men, at least 3o women) jumped out of Child’s Pose and knocked over their water bottles to catch a glimpse, to pepper the chaperones with questions, to pose for the first selfies of the afternoon.
Eventually, we returned to our mats. A woman wearing jeans, a T-shirt, cropped hair and a big set of keys explained that as we carried on with our poses, she and her assistant would lead the goats around to interact with us. If we laid down, they might climb on us. If we stood, Warrior Pose, they might walk between our legs.
“Are they heavy?” a woman asked.
Pippin, the beige and white one, weighed 35 pounds, a little less than Spanky, who was grayish-brown and white. Pippin would be doing most of the climbing.
“What about pee and poo?” the chaperone asked rhetorically. “They just had a long walk. But you can’t house train a goat. Accidents happen. If it happens to you go out and buy a lottery ticket. It’s good luck.”
There were two yoga instructors, Kyle and Sian. Sian explained that they would alternate. While one called out poses, the other would be tracking the goats and taking iPhone pics, so we didn’t have to worry about that.
“Because,” Sian said, “we know it’s more about that.”
Oh, it was. We all kept our iPhones beside our mats. The chaperones led the goats across each row, then down and back across the other row, like dogs sniffing for contraband in a prison line up. The goats performed. When they jumped on a bent back, their leaders would produce a treat. Walk under legs, treat. Front hooves on a tush, treat.
Two years ago, a YouTube video of goats wandering among a yoga class on an Oregon farm went viral. Stories in newspapers followed, goats across the country were rousted from their yards, and a bazillion Instagram posts were born.
Most of those news stories ended up in my e-mail box. For seven years my wife and I kept two pygmy goats in our backyard in Venice. One I rescued from a butcher, one from a bad home. The reason is this: I love goats.
All the reasons they are lovable were on display at Love Yoga that afternoon. They are curious, obedient (with the right encouragement), dog-like, and entertaining. The goat yoga fad is tired, canned, and at $40, it’s twice the price of goat-less yoga. And yes, it’s all about the ‘gram. But it was also fun. Because goats are just weird fun.
After class, Sian said, there would be a meet-and-greet. As we went into Savasana, the goats moved to the front of the room. We rolled up our mats, put away our blocks, and encircled the amenable animals. One by one we down-dogged as a goat was egged onto our backs. Picture. Laughter. Next.
I left without a photo. I had already taken hundreds of pics with our own goats before we sent them off to a better life at a nearby Jewish summer camp. On my way home, my thoughts naturally returned to Olle and Goldie Horn. Forty bucks per person times thirty people times 52 weeks. $62,400 a year.
Yeah, no wonder it’s a thing.