Hay’s Daze: Downward dog has gone to the goats

The downward dog has gone to the goats. Apparently it’s no longer de rigueur enough to have just a regular old downward dog or upward dog — or even the cat, cow or half-cobra. And if you think I’m talking about a visit to the exotic zoo I guess you aren’t much of a Yogi. And if you think a Yogi is a cartoon bear, then you’re getting your animals mixed up.

For the neophytes who have no earthly idea what I’m on about, I’m referring to that popular ancient fitness phenomenon called “yoga”. Technically, a person who practices yoga is referred to as a “yogi” but hardly anyone calls that person yogi on account of it causes people to snicker a little bit. And the dog, cat and half-cobra are poses invented centuries ago in India and that modern yogis everywhere make their bodies do in order to get into better physical and mental shape and to practice looking like a human pretzel.

A few years ago I joined the ranks of people who have tried yoga. It wasn’t pretty.

There I was in a small dark room on a small thin matt. Soothing sitar music was softly filling the room, which was a nice mood-setter. Burning incense was also filling the room, which repeatedly triggered my sneeze reflex, which did very little for the room mood. People were shooting me less than welcoming looks before we even began to yoga.

We started out “easy” and within the first two moves I knew our instructor yogi person had a very warped sense of humor calling this exhausting contortion “easy”. Already I was sweating like a 95 year old Swede in a sauna, except I was also grunting and snorting whilst attempting to place my body parts and appendages into places they were never meant go. And that’s not all.

Every time I attempted to move to another impossible position, I made, um, other bodily noises. The embarrassing kind of bodily noises. I couldn’t seem to help it. “Warrior pose,” the instructor would say. I would try to contort, and: “Whapt!” “Plow pose,” she would whisper. “Braakk!” You get my drift. And so did everyone else. Talk about a mood breaker.

It’s surprising how a room full of quietly stretching, semi-meditating, thoughtful and caring people can turn on you. Let’s just say I was annihilated several times over by the intense dagger eyes thrown at me by perspiring yogis. Let’s just say I never went back to yoga class, and steadfastly avoided anything resembling yoga. Until now. Until Goat Yoga.

I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Invented just last year at a small farm in Oregon, goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like. All these goats get together and they start with the plank pose and move their skinny little legs to the fish pose, and… Just kidding – goat yoga consists of humans doing yoga in the presence of goats. Little farm animals who sniff you and climb on you and chew your hair whilst you are busy posing.

The inventor, Lainey Morse, says it’s “therapeutic” and it must be on account of she has a waiting list of – wait for it – 1,200 people just itching to get all yoga-goaty. What? And there are now several places here in Alberta where you can do goat yoga. Double what?

“It’s hard to be sad and depressed when there’s baby goats jumping on you,” Morse says, and I’m sure she’s right. In fact, I’d even give the goats a go. Because those yoga goats probably make as much yoga noise as I do.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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