The Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center in Miami, Florida, is always looking for inventive ways to deliver unique experiences to its members. One such experience is a series of goat yoga classes the Alper JCC hosted in late September to celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith.
Before each class, participants learned the significance of goats to the Jewish tradition. “During the holiday, there is an ancient ritual where a goat, referred to as the scapegoat, was thought to have all the sins and transgressions of the Israelites from that year put upon it,” explained Jenine Simon, the director of programming at the Alper JCC. “It was then set free in the wild so the people could begin the new year fresh without sins.”
After learning about the scapegoat ritual, participants were guided through a 30-minute goat yoga class, in which 11 goats wandered through the exercise area, interacting with participants.
“The instructor leading the yoga session explained the goats like strong and stable backs,” said Simon. “As soon as people went into the downward dog position and other positions like that, the goats started jumping on people’s backs. When the first goat jumped on someone’s back, the whole group stopped to watch and take pictures.”
Featuring goats of a variety of ages — from two weeks old to grown adults — the goat yoga classes gave participants a highly entertaining exercise experience they wouldn’t forget.
“Baby goats fell asleep in people’s laps and on their yoga mats,” said Simon. “They went through people’s bags, played with people’s hair, and children ran around to play with them.”
According to Simon, participants loved the goat yoga sessions. “We’ve had a huge, positive response and have heard from participants since the event about how great it was,” she shared.
There were three goat yoga sessions — one for families, one for a mix of families, teens and adults, and one for adults only — and each class delivered a unique and enriching experience.
“The goats made everyone laugh and have a great time,” shared Simon. “It was definitely a highlight watching people embrace the goats — forgetting all about the yoga at times — and loving every minute of it.”
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