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Animals and yoga together make ‘goga’


Goat yoga, a unique way to care for your health while filling your cute quota, is now available in Sault Ste. Marie and area.
Sarah Domingue launched Bearable Yoga with Sarah earlier this year to offer a holistic approach to wellness, bringing together the therapeutic effects of animals and yoga.
“It’s the perfect blend of mindfulness, relaxation, and wholesome fun,” Domingue told Sault This Week. “It’s impossible to not smile as you watch the goats prancing around your feet and see their different personalities.”
Domingue points to multiple scientific studies that have demonstrated playing with animals for as few as five minutes helps to reduce stress levels, reducing the stress hormone cortisol while increasing dopamine and serotonin, which promote happiness.
“Researchers have found that just the presence of friendly animals, even if they are unfamiliar, can help reduce an individual’s blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety, and depression,” she added.
Because goats are highly trainable and enjoy interacting with people, they are the perfect addition to yoga. They will climb on the yoga practitioner as they perform their poses, adding extra weight to help the stretch go deeper and create more of a challenge.
Goat yoga, or “goga,” is not the only animal-focused practice Domingue offers. She recently added horse wellness classes to her roster, providing what she calls “a form of therapy like no other.” In these classes, students meet the horse and feed it some treats before brushing the horse while focusing on its breathing.
“Horses can sense how you’re feeling and will work with you to calm your anxiety,” said Domingue. “Their hearts are four times bigger than ours making them one of the most powerful healers we have around.”
Both goat yoga and horse therapy sessions are good for anyone, regardless of fitness level or experience with yoga, though Domingue does restrict goat yoga sessions to age 10 and up and age five and up for horse wellness.
The sessions are offered on a farm in Echo Bay owned by Andrea Moscicky and John Vanderveer. Moscicky offers assistance during the horse therapy sessions, including guiding participants in reading the horse.
Domingue believes these courses will be beneficial to everyone given the wide variety of health benefits both yoga and time with animals provide. For her part, Domingue came to yoga after suffering a serious fall in 2018 that caused damage to her brain.
“As part of my healing journey my doctor recommended yoga to me,” she said. “He wanted me to headstand to increase blood flow to my brain to heal it quicker. From practicing, I not only am healing brain damage, I also was cured of a heart disease I had developed as a child.”
Domingue has also had two “miracle babies” since beginning yoga after being told she would be unable to do so as a result of having had cancer in her ovary and cervix in her 20s.
“I’m not claiming yoga can cure these things or guarantee pregnancy, but I do believe that the increase of blood flow and oxygen to my body helped aid in the healing of my body,” added Domingue. “After having my daughter, I wanted to do more than just work equal-opportunity employment. I wanted to show people the power of breath and happiness, and to reconnect people to nature and animals. That’s why these classes mean so much to me.”
More information about Domingue’s classes can be found on her website at www.bearableyogawithsarah.org or through her Facebook group called “Goga on the farm! Yoga with Goats/Bearable Yoga with Sarah.” She plans to announce a new class featuring Zumba-style dance with incorporated yoga stretches in the coming days.

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