Goat Yoga Takes on Pinecrest One Hoof at a Time

Samantha Elkins, News Editor

Picture this: you are at a yoga class outside, the weather feels perfect and you have just laid out your mat. The yoga instructor begins the session with a peaceful “om” signifying the time and space that will be spent in meditation. Throughout the session, you stretch and ground yourself, until suddenly, you feel a playful lick on your ankle. Welcome to goat yoga, a new approach to the art of yoga that has taken Pinecrest by storm. 

The establishment of yoga traces back over 5,000 years ago to its Hindu roots in Northern India. Today, people practice yoga to bring harmony between their minds and body. Yoga’s slow stretches, breathing and serenity bring people to the present so they can better connect and center themselves. So, why are goats involved?

Scientists discovered that humans experience a rise in the chemical Oxytocin while interacting with animals. Oxytocin slows one’s heart rate, reduces blood pressure and lowers the production of stress hormones. The same feeling that many get around a puppy or kitten translates to interacting with goats. These creatures often lick, prance or climb on the yoga participants to help lower their stress, while participants enjoy some time with some furry friends. 

Emily Morgan, Founder and Creator of Aiyana’s Empire Dairy Goats, proudly provides the goats for Pinecrests goat yoga sessions. Morgan founded her farm two years ago, yet her passion for agriculture started while she attended Felix Varela High School. While most high schools commonly assign students the famous flour baby project, Morgan was literally given a baby goat. This rudimentary high school project sparked her interest in agriculture and how to sustainably practice it. Now, Morgan leases a farm in Homestead that houses goats, chickens, horses and turkeys. 

“I was kind of tired of hearing about the doom and gloom about global emissions and global warming and that we have to do something about it.  And so I was like ‘Okay, so I’m going to do something about it,’” Morgan said. “And that’s when I really opened the farm and established it for business. The mission is to provide locally, ethically and environmentally friendly sourced food for the Miami area. So that’s kind of how it exploded into creation.”

Eventually, Morgan aims to own an educational farm center in Homestead that provides dairy products, agricultural educational seminars and a community garden to her community. Currently, Morgan’s goats provide the milk for soaps and other products that can be found at @7blessingssoaps on Etsy. Giving back to the community remains one of the primary reasons Morgan provides her goats during yoga sessions. 

“It benefits everybody basically. It benefits me by compensating me because I do get paid for it. And I am advertising for my program and things like that. It benefits the goats because they get to have socialization and they get to be socialized with traveling, which is also a big part of their life….and then it also benefits the community. It engages people in a conversation like ‘what the heck are these goats doing?’ Or ‘what is agriculture and why are they a part of it?’” Morgan said.

Students in Miami-Dade County have the opportunity to work alongside Morgan and her goats through the Summer Youth Internship Program sponsored by Miami Dade Public Schools. Jobs remain available and attainable for students through this link. 

While Morgan does provide the goats, she also works alongside Yoga 4 Change to provide the yoga teachers that lead each session. Yoga 4 Change is a non-profit organization that offers yoga classes for veterans, those experiencing incarceration, youth as well as those struggling with mental health conditions through a yoga-driven curriculum.

“When we work with these communities, we are showing that there are other coping mechanisms and that there are healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe it helps someone find what they’re passionate about,” Program Director and Community Outreach for Yoga 4 Change Alexandra Ramirez said. “If someone is passionate about dance or writing or filmmaking, it gives people another avenue to find what it is that they love to do with their life…It helps them see that there may be another way to life than something they may have experienced.”

Yoga 4 Change engages communities with a healthy outlet that celebrates one’s body and mind. Whether sitting on a chair, on a mat, practicing from YouTube videos at home, or even with goats, people are given many outlets to be in the present moment.  

Goat yoga has also allowed yoga’s negative misconceptions to slowly disappear, as many realize that anyone can participate in the activity. Before, the only attainable reference many had was the common laptop background depicting a twisted flexible person on a serene mountaintop. Yet, many felt encouraged to sign up for goat yoga because of its friendly environment and adorable goats. 

“A lot of people are really nervous because they think they’re not flexible enough, or they can’t sit still and think about nothing. And that can’t be farther from the truth. Yoga is meant for every single person on this planet. No matter your size, your color, your ethnicity, no matter if you’re the most flexible person or if you’re in a wheelchair, yoga can be practiced anywhere at any time,” Ramirez said. 

At Miami Palmetto Senior High, Key Club echoed this message to students as they declared January’s focus of the month on mindfulness and stress relief. This was in accordance with their Governor’s Project which is an initiative focused on nutrition, health, loving the community, and yourself. On the first Friday of the month, students and faculty gathered behind the black box to participate in a student-led yoga session. 

“Everybody’s so spread thin in school, especially the students. Faculty as well, but we took the moment just to stop and say ‘okay, let’s just enjoy each other’s company in a very natural organic setting,’” Palmetto English teacher and faculty advisor for Key Club Maria Sanin said. 

As Key Club’s last session of the year approaches on May 6, from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m., students have the chance to de-stress following the infamous end-of-year testing schedule.

“We laugh, we do yoga and we relax. And it’s so important to do that. Were so stuck behind a computer all the time. It’s important just to go in and relax and enjoy nature,” Mrs. Sanin said. 

After a stressful school year, many yearn for activities to de-stress and engage with their community. Those seeking the best of both worlds along with adorable animals should consider signing up for goat yoga to experience just that.