Getting My Goat Yoga On

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience with a room full of adorable kittens for cat yoga. But for the last year I have actually been dying to try goat yoga. Nashville, being the hipster metropolis that it is, has at least 2-3 goat yoga companies from which to choose.

I selected Shenanigoats Yoga to get on my nanny goat namaste. Shenanigoats is owned by Jamie (pictured below) and her family and it began as a goat lawn care service. However, that all changed after someone suggested she get into the yoga business. After a post in our local neighborhood Facebook group inquired whether anyone would be interested in local goat yoga classes, and hundreds of excited responses, Shenanigoats Yoga was born.

Shenanigoats hosts yoga sessions a few places around town, but I lucked out that one of those spots happens to be right outside of Bongo East, a coffee shop just a few minutes from my house. The class was led by Janaye Williams from Shakti Yoga.

Fortunately, it was only about 80 degrees outside. Which, for Nashville in August, is basically a cold front. Unfortunately, I still got a good bit of sun because I neglected my sunscreen. Oops!

Enough about me. On to the goats . . . and yoga.

There were a few dozen participants there for my session. Jamie said they sell out every class, which does not surprise me one bit.

We all lined up on either side of the fence, facing the center. I strategically picked a spot near a water bowl in hope that it would increase my goat traffic.

I was right. Several precious goats came by to pay me (ok, the water bowl) a visit.

One friendly little goat even decided to make itself at home on my mat. I, of course, had zero objections to this.

I spent most of my time taking pictures of and petting goats and little time actually doing yoga. But who cares! Goats!

Jamie and her family were also more than willing to assist with the perfect goat yoga poses. It was a little hard to balance on the grass when the sun is in your eyes, but perfect yoga form isn’t why we are there.

At the end of class, we all lined up shoulder to shoulder so the goats could run across our backs. It was adorable.

I had so much fun with Jamie and her goats and I have already promised a friend I’d make a return visit with her.

If you are interested in attending your own goat yoga session, Shenanigoats has all of their upcoming events listed here.

PS: If you want to keep reading about goats, see this post about my experience milking a goat and making goat cheese.

Meowmaste! Cat Yoga is Positively Purrfect

The world of yoga is expanding. You can try beer yoga in London, goat yoga in Vermont, and cat yoga right here in Nashville.

Photo by Keri Newman

Every other month, Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control hosts an hour of zen with cats and kittens in need of homes. The yoga session helps socialize the cats and helps MACC learn about their personalities to help place them with the right families.

Photo by Keri Newman

Our yogi kitties were Storm, Kit, Kaboodle, and Cutie Patootie Pants (yes, you can change their names if you adopt them).

I really don’t know who had more fun, us, or the kitties who had the run of the room.

Rebecca Carey and Keri Newman, from Shakti Yoga, were our instructors for the day.

Photo by Keri Newman

While Keri took pictures, Rebecca guided us through the traditional yoga poses, cat-cow, cat-uranga, and even downward dog (shhh . . . don’t tell the kitties).

Photo by Keri Newman

We also took plenty of kitten breaks to play with our new furry friends.

Photo by Keri Newman

However, I learned that a hanging ponytail will stand in for any cat toy.

Photo by Keri Newman

But when it was all said and done, everyone was ready for a relaxing sunbeam shavasana.

These kitties, as well as many of their dog and cat friends, are looking for homes. If you want a forever yoga partner (or even just a short-term foster), contact Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control to find your purrfect mate. Adopt, don’t shop.

Sound Immersion Meditation

I have never been good at meditation. I have tried it on a few occasions, but I have struggled to steady my mind for more than a moment or two. As soon as I calm my brain it starts making lists of all the things I have to do later, regretting that thing I said to someone 8 years ago, or contemplating what dark matter is actually made of. All things that of course must be resolved immediately.

The only time I’ve actually enjoyed meditation was when I spent 10 minutes overlooking the canyons of Malibu after climbing to the top of a waterfall last week. The serenity of the sound of the falling water against the beautiful backdrop made it easy to let go of everything.

Although I have struggled with meditation in the past, this project is as much about pushing myself to do things that make me uncomfortable as it is about doing things that are exciting.

I was intrigued when I first saw a post advertising sound immersion mediation. The session was held at The Hot Room Yoga and Wellness Studio and was hosted by Massood Taj and Robin Barnes. The description of the event read:

“As the sounds of singing bowls, frame drums, native flutes, gongs, vocal overtoning and other sacred instruments wash over you. It invites you to move into a deep meditative state. Cellular vibrations can unlock unhealthy, stuck emotional tension held within our cellular memory, boost your immune system & cultivate a heightened awareness of your inner world and intuition.”

Here is an example of what it sounded like:

Massood and Robin had a multitude of instruments laid out on blankets surrounded by salt lamps and rope lights, which provided great mood lighting in the dark. They used water drums (a bowl is placed upside down in a larger water-filled bowl and then stuck for a percussive sound), frame drumsTibetan signing bowls, crystal singing bowls, a handpan, energy chimes, a wooden bamboo flute thingy (that was made with bamboo that grows naturally in Tennessee), a Quena (Peruvian wood flute), an african talking drum, a kalimba, and an array of other fascinating instruments.  A nice summer storm added to the soundscape.

The best way to describe it was that it felt like I was being treated to a live version of the music they play while you get a massage. It was extremely relaxing.

I was just as unsuccessful at clearing my mind as my previous meditation attempts, but I did have a few moments of zen when I pictured my view from my Dominican rainforest tree house. The music was beautiful and I loved the experience. If I ever hit the Powerball I plan to hire Massood and Robin to provide the soundtrack to my life.

Laughter Yoga: Post-Election Recovery

Well, this has been a hell of a week, hasn’t it? Regardless of your political beliefs, or expected or desired outcome, this election has been tumultuous. Like most of America, I needed a break. In order to inject some joy into my life I reached out to laughter yoga.

Laughter yoga surprisingly has no yoga in it. Instead, laughter yoga is a class that promotes prolonged voluntary laughter. Laughter yoga was developed by the Indian physician Madan Kataria and is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.  Some studies have indicated that laughter yoga can reduce pain, stress, and blood sugar, and can help with short-term memory. I can’t speak to the validity of these studies, but I can say that it lifted my spirits.

Our class was filled with silly laughter. It was like improv combined with children’s playtime. We started with pretending to be squirrels, running around eating imaginary acorns and giggling wildly. I immediately realized I had no idea what I signed up for. The absurdity continued from there. We were tittering trees, cackling mad scientists, chuckling penguins, and snickering sandpipers running into the ocean waves. We also tossed around an imaginary ball, that would send the person who caught it into a fit of laughter. The goofiness of the class meant that I did not need to force my laughter. It was real and infectious laughter. Each activity is concluded with childlike clapping of your hands and shouting “Very good, very good, yay!”

When I first told friends I planned to go to the class, many said they were not up to it after a very stressful week. However, once I described how fun and uplifting it was (and how they didn’t actually have to do any yoga) many expressed a desire to try it out in the future.

I immersed myself in the class and therefore did not take any photos or videos of my experience. However, if you are interested, here is a sample of what the class was like:

%d bloggers like this: