Some believe goats belong in a barnyard, not a yoga studio. But those people were noticeably absent Saturday, when the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge hosted a first-ever goat yoga class for both the curious and the convinced.
Nigerian Dwarf goats Billy, Burlap and Roscoe made the trip from Hello Critter Goat Yoga in the Burbank/Glendale Rancho neighborhood to La Cañada, where a class of 35 participants had signed up for a one-hour session that promised peace and mindfulness with a side of animal action.
Hello Critter yoga instructor Beverly O’Donohue went over the basics, including what is surely the No. 1 question on any goat yoga FAQ:
“They are goats, so we have to keep in mind that they are willing, and able, to make this entire room their bathroom,” O’Donohue said, explaining any “blessings” offered by the goats during class would be immediately cleaned up. “We are extremely appreciative of your tolerance and sense of humor.”
Some poses would be slightly modified to avoid injuries, while others might inspire goats to jump from one back to another, the instructor continued. Unlike typical yoga classes, selfies and cellphone pics were not prohibited.
The three goats worked the room, perching on backs and shoulders with sock-covered hooves as students changed positions. A row of students doing “Downward-Facing Dog” created the perfect tunnel for Billy, a young male goat whose budding horns were wrapped in vet tape for safety, to run through.
Hello Critter owner Michelle Tritten and mom Donna used treat canisters to help focus the animals’ attention and distribute the love evenly, though they occasionally traded them for towels and brooms whenever blessings required cleanup.
After the session, participants lined up in the courtyard to take posed photos with Burlap, Billy and Roscoe. La Cañada sisters Claire and Ellie Chapman said they equally enjoyed the yoga and the goats.
“It was really fun and relaxing,” said 17-year-old Ellie Chapman. “And it was kind of funny, in some aspects, because you’d be relaxing and then you’d have goats on you.”
“It made it more fun to be watching them,” Claire Chapman, 19, agreed.
That’s the allure of goat yoga, said Michelle Tritten, who’s owned goats since the 1980s and claims to have hosted the first class in Greater Los Angeles in 2017 — they lend an undeniable joyfulness that can enhance the yoga experience.
“You can’t be mad or depressed around a goat,” she said. “They just open up hearts and give me a sense of peace more than anything else.”
La Cañada resident Sasha Stalgren brought husband Doug to the Community Center Saturday as a surprise present for their sixth wedding anniversary. Attracted by the novelty, she quickly warmed to the concept.
“When I do yoga it’s hard to focus my mind because my mind wanders,” she said. “But with this, I could focus my mind on the goats. It helped.”
As for Doug Stalgren, while the inclusion of yoga mats made his wife’s plan clear, the goats were a welcome surprise.
“I thought she was going to get me a tattoo,” he joked.