by Sheila Julson
Cultivating higher consciousness becomes a little more interesting when adorable, cuddly goats get involved. During goat yoga, goats are brought in to roam among class participants, providing a lighthearted and fun approach to yoga. “It’s a popular trend,” says Rachael Phillips, who formed GOGA Goat Yoga with her fiancé, Trey Kitchen, in September 2017. “We’re starting to see goat yoga pop up all over the country.”
Their classes attract both beginners and seasoned yoga practitioners looking for something a little different. “Goat yoga is great for beginners who have never done yoga before. The goats make it a little less intimidating, and it’s not a super-serious yoga class,” notes Phillips.
Instructors at GOGA Goat Yoga’s vinyasa classes lead participants through the poses while the goats walk around, playfully jumping on the participants or welcoming cuddles. Phillips brings in socialized pygmy Nigerian dwarf goats—one of the smallest breeds—raised by Kitchen’s mother, Roxie Banker, who has a ranch in Hamilton County.
Phillips occasionally hears misconceptions that goats are mean or that they will eat anything in sight. “Our goats have been around people since they were born. They might walk up to you and nibble on your mat, but they don’t have top front teeth,” Phillips explains. “They just kind of nibble on things and move on.”
Phillips came up with the concept for GOGA Goat Yoga after a visit to Banker’s ranch. As a yoga practitioner, she had heard of goat yoga and thought about incorporating Banker’s goats into a yoga fundraiser. Shortly afterward, Hurricane Harvey slammed the Houston area and several of Phillips’ friends and relatives were affected.
She arranged a goat yoga fundraiser to raise money for the victims, and later another for Hurricane Irma victims, and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to those causes. Both events sold out quickly, and Phillips and Kitchen realized goat yoga could be a viable business.
GOGA Goat Yoga offers several classes during two weekends per month at Lamar Union. They recently opened a second location in the Hill Country Galleria, where they plan to offer goat yoga twice per month, with traditional yoga—sans goats—during the week.