Crow pose meets curious creatures in yoga classes for animal lovers

BY Christina Orlovsky Page

You’ve heard of downward dog, but what about downward cat? Or even downward goat? All around San Diego County, fitness has gone four-legged, thanks to yoga classes that combine exercise with a love of animals. From goats to cats to dogs, here are three ways to connect with the animal kingdom while tapping into your inner yogi.

The Blissful Goat

Baby goats are all the rage. Just one look at your social media feed will prove that there’s nothing cuter than a bouncing baby goat—except possibly a goat doing yoga. At the Blissful Goat in rural San Marcos, you’ll experience just that—or, rather, a goat standing on your back as you do your best to stay in plank position.

Why goat yoga, you ask?

“In the same way goats are housed with horses for their stabilizing and calming influence, being in a goat’s presence puts me into an anxiety-free, ‘blissful’ state of being,” says Star Bailey, a licensed chiropractor and instructor of Goat Yoga Light, an introductory class for yogis of all levels. Held on her farm in rural San Marcos, the class is as much about laughing and adorable photo ops as it is about stretching, breathing and posing.

“This gives people the opportunity to experience the loving goats and to spend an hour releasing resistance and focusing on something other than their worries,” she says. “There is nothing more valuable than doing something joyful, outdoors and physical. If that involves cuddling animals, it’s just that much greater for the soul.”

Leash Your Fitness

If farm animals aren’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to exercise with another four-legged workout partner.

“Working out with your dog is so rewarding because it gives you a new way to bond,” says Dawn Celapino, personal trainer and owner of Leash Your Fitness. “There is a perfect exercise for every dog. The trick is to find what works and to be present when spending workout time together.”

Celapino has traveled the country with her favorite workout buddy—her senior Cairn terrier, Jack—teaching fitness classes along the way. In San Diego, she offers a wide variety of group workouts—from hiking to “K9 Core & Conditioning” to yoga.

[ FIND YOUR FITNESS SPIRIT ANIMAL Visit theblissfulgoat.life, leashyourfitness.com or catcafesd.com to register for an upcoming animal yoga class. ]


Cats on Mats 

No pet? No problem! At The Cat Café, in downtown’s Marina District, you can adopt one—or simply spend some time socializing with adoptable felines from The Rescue House. The coffeehouse-meets-cat-rescue offers the opportunity to interact with animals seeking loving homes—all while enjoying an energizing cup of espresso or a relaxing savasana. At “Cats on Mats,” you’ll combine your love of cats, coffee and calming yoga.

“Cats on Mats includes moves suitable for all levels,” says Cat Café volunteer and yoga student Annemarie Haydel. “The instructor helps guide each participant so there’s no risk of serious injury, and throughout the entire session, the cats are roaming around the room, exploring and visiting participants. Sometimes they’ll even flop down on the yoga mat. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday night!”