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Column: Is goat yoga turning this country into a — wait for it — nanny state?

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner Staff - | Aug 29, 2017

You had me at "goat." And then lost me again at "yoga."

But apparently, that's an actual thing: "Goat yoga."

Over the weekend, the Standard-Examiner ran a story about Alisa Boulter, the West Point woman who started a business called "Goat Yoga Utah: On the Farm." It's part of a much larger national trend involving goats and yoga.

RELATED: We're not kidding -- goat yoga craze has arrived in Northern Utah

To be clear, goat yoga is not yoga for goats -- although that would be plenty entertaining to watch. Rather, goat yoga is yoga WITH goats.

Because nothing helps you find inner peace and enlightenment like doing stretching exercises in the presence of bearded ruminants.

RELATED: New York's Spider-Man has nothing on Northern Utah

Near as anyone can tell, the idea of combining the ancient Indian spiritual discipline with adorable farm animals originated just last year in Oregon -- a place that, incidentally, also happens to own the distinction of being the first state to decriminalize marijuana.

Lainey Morse, of Albany, Oregon, is credited with the first yoga-goat mashup. And to hear news reports tell it, the waiting list for sharing a yoga mat with one of the Billy Goats Gruff is a mile long.

I honestly can't decide if the idea is genius or madness.

In any event, news outlets have been having a field day with the headlines. ABC News bleated: "Goat yoga is the latest trend, and it's here to namaste." The Huffington Post went with a similar variation on the Hindu word, offering up: "Baa-maste! Boulder Goes Wild for Goat Yoga."

Even the Standard-Examiner's headline on its website playfully read: "We're not kidding -- goat yoga craze has arrived in Northern Utah."

It isn't difficult to understand the appeal of staring at goats during yoga, especially the miniature ones. They're just so darned cute and playful. Indeed, years ago we had a neighbor who raised pygmy goats, and it was a blast to go over to their house and watch the little goats running around, climbing on everything.

They had this one tiny goat that would repeatedly head-butt anyone who went in the backyard. Of course, this "little-goat-who-could" didn't weigh much more than a similar-sized stuffed animal, so it's not like it hurt. But it sure was fun to watch the thing spend hours -- if you'd allow it -- repeatedly raring back and clobbering you on the shins.

"Adorbs," I believe the young people these days would call it. "Totes adorbs."

Believe it or not, I've also dabbled in yoga. Ten years ago, in an attempt to make me a bit more flexible than your basic two-by-four, the missus dragged me to a summer of yoga classes. (For obvious reasons, my favorite pose was always Savasana, or "corpse pose.")

On the original goatyoga.net website, the frequently asked questions section addresses important issues like:

Q: Do I need to bring my own yoga mat?

A: No. We provide a special yoga mat that the goats can't destroy.

Apparently, goats -- like certain overweight columnists -- have a reputation for eating just about anything placed in front of them. It would be interesting to know what this goat-proof mat is made of.

And my other favorite question from the FAQ:

Q: Do I have to participate in the yoga portion of the class?

A: No. Some people just like to sit on their mat and snuggle goats.

Technically, I don't think you can call that a workout.

There aren't many communities that the goat yoga craze hasn't touched, and the specialty yoga madness is spreading. There's already a thing called "chicken yoga," which involves doing yoga in the vicinity of egg-layers, and I suppose it's only a matter of time before we see things like "bunny yoga" and "kitty yoga."

Personally? I'm holding out for Yogi yoga -- performing the exercises in the presence of a costumed mascot representing the pic-i-nic basket-loving Jellystone Park bear from Saturday morning cartoons.

But until then, goat yoga will do nicely, thank you very much. Because the truth is, there just aren't many otherwise boring and/or uncomfortable activities in this world that couldn't be made so much better with a bunch of miniature goats frolicking around it. Why, the possibilities are limitless:

• Goat dentistry.

• Goat operas.

• Goat presidential press conferences.

• Goat colonoscopies.

• Goat road construction zones.

• Goat church.

Say, maybe turning this country into a nanny state isn't such a bad thing after all.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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