By LISA READIE MAYER
With all due respect to Barbra Streisand, the lyrics to her iconic ballad really should go like this: “People,… People who need pets, Are the luckiest people in the world.” Interacting with animals is proven to decrease blood pressure and stress hormones; cut the risk of heart disease; reduce
loneliness, anxiety, and depression; improve social interactions; and enhance feelings of calm, comfort and focus. Here’s a peek into the pet effect, and why we are the luckiest people in the world:
STUDIES SHOW PETS’ UNCONDITIONAL LOVE,
PATIENCE AND INTUITIVE EMPATHY
HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON HUMAN
HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING.
You may be used as a makeshift mountain during Downward Dog, or go nose to nose with one of the
curious creatures during Cobra pose, but that’s all part of the fun of Goat Yoga. The concept of practicing
yoga with goats started on the west coast in 2016, but thanks to social media, the phenomenon is sweeping
the naaaaahtion (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). Why? According to practitioners, it is impossible to feel
sad—or, to even resist laughing out loud—when you are distracted by playful, silly, goats.
Oasis Therapeutic Life Centers (Oasis tlc) in Middletown, an organic farm school for people with autism,
started hosting Goat Yoga classes for the public last year. The classes, held outdoors on the peaceful farm,
are led by Gina Lennon of Hot & Soul Yoga,Red Bank, and Jen Portman of Synergy Hot Yoga, Fair Haven.
All the while, some of the 32 Nigerian dwarf goats that reside at the farm school, wander around, inquisitively checking out the bending and stretching yogis on their mats. “The goats are naturally curious and friendly, kind of like dogs. They make people smile,” says Mai Cleary, founder of Oasis tlc. “It is a really fun experience and everyone is so happy afterwards. It shows how animals can help people.”
The goats are raised and cared for by student interns who participate in the Oasis tlc program, which is designed to provide vocational training and meaningful work in a healthy, natural, structured environment. The student interns also use the goats’ milk to create and sell soaps and lotions. Money raised from yoga classes ($30 donation per person, per session) helps cover operating expenses for the farm school, including the goats’ food. Goat yoga proved so popular last year—attracting as many as 130 participants per session from as far as New York City, and with nearly as many on the waiting list—that Oasis tlc added more classes and created an easy online registration portal this year. OASISTLC.ORG