Ian Holihan wanted to stand up straight, but he couldn’t.
There was a goat on his back.
“I was like, ‘I’m just gonna let him sit here,'” said Holihan, a freshman in the sport, outdoor recreation and tourism management program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
It wasn’t like Holihan, who’s from Franklin, Tennessee, unexpectedly found himself with a goat standing on him. He was one of the students taking part in a goat yoga session on Chamberlain Field on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
In four 30-minute sessions, Nigerian dwarf goats, ranging between 15 and 35 pounds depending on their age, were exercise companions to the students.
Melody Nash, the owner of Goat Yoga Nashville and a yoga instructor, told the students, “If you’re on your mat, they’re going to jump on you.
“We don’t ask them, ‘Hey, jump on this person.’ They’re just gonna freely jump. There’s no way to stop them from doing that. Their natural instinct is to climb. You’re basically their jungle gym for 30 minutes.”
Goat yoga has been taking place on Chamberlain Field since 2018, one of the many Welcome Week events hosted at the beginning of fall semester.
“We’re creating an experience for students to engage in that promotes community building, positive mental health, a healthy lifestyle and just plain fun,” said Lucy White from the UTC Center for Wellbeing—one of the event’s sponsors.
Judging from the laughter, squeals and smiles during the session, fun was not in short supply.
Nash led the group through a series of yoga moves and poses. Goats leapt on the students’ backs, stood on their stomachs and meandered between them. Moments for cellphone photos were provided.
Kimora Parker, a freshman in pro-professional biology from Jackson, Tennessee, said she knows people who had previously tried goat yoga.
“I was like, ‘You know what? I have to try.'”
After trying, she was glad she did.
“It felt good. Just a little bit of pressure,” she said.
Holihan was walking through the UTC Library plaza when he saw the set-up for the goat yoga.
“I was going to end up in the library, then I saw this and I thought, ‘This would be fun.’ So I asked them if they had any open spots,” he said.
“I loved it. I thought it’d be a little more ‘pointy,’ but it didn’t hurt whatsoever.”