Associated Students, Inc. Events brought a crowd to Mott Lawn on Oct. 1 as they welcomed goats from family-owned Mullenax Ranch for “goat yoga.”
Students stood in line for more than an hour in anticipation of petting and posing with the goats. Those who did not participate in the yoga class lined the pen to scratch behind goats’ ears and snap photos.
Ranch owners Ernie and Alex Mullenax describe goat yoga as “the art of doing yoga while goats walk and play at-will around you.”
Animal science freshman Ashley Fisher said she found the event worth the wait.
“Goat yoga is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Fisher said as a goat nuzzled her shoulder.
The owners began offering goat yoga as a direct means to provide and care for their animals. The husband-and-wife team treat their Nigerian Dwarf goat “kids” as an extension of their family.
When the goats retire from yoga, they live on the ranch, or they may be adopted.
“People of all ages, backgrounds and from every walk of life experience stress and hardship of varying degrees throughout their life,” Alex said. “The goat yoga has served as a way to help everyone relax, have fun and break down some of those barriers.”
ASI student assistants Eve Sumbstur and Nick Price were inspired by a survey last year that reflected students’ interest in fitness, so they decided to host special exercise events. Sumbstur and Price also said they thought it would be exciting to bring the “goat yoga” trend to campus.
Yoga instructor Chelcy Westphal graduated Cal Poly in 2017 and has taught yoga since 2018. Compared to other classes, Westphal said goat yoga is a playful, welcoming introduction to yoga.
“I don’t think that anybody has ever left class without a huge smile on their face,” Westphal said.
Handling live animals, student safety and outdoor elements challenged Westphal’s creativity when teaching the class, she said. But she said goat yoga is rewarding when the students find joy with the animals.
“When [the goats] come and lay on your mat, you feel chosen,” animal science freshman Maddy Shepherd said.
The accessibility of yoga surprised mechanical engineering freshman Megan Tran and chemistry freshman Erica Dorwar. Before the event, the pair expected yoga to be overly challenging, but they Dorwar found that the goats “kept it more lighthearted.”
Experienced yogis and beginners alike found common ground at this event.
“People get so intense in yoga about getting things right,” environmental engineering freshman Kenzie Rutherford said. “But the goats added an element of ‘chill.’”
California Goat Yoga holds classes at the Madonna Inn every other Saturday.