Laughing. It’s something we encourage a lot here at Nashville Fit Magazine, and when we stumbled upon Goat Yoga Nashville, we knew we had to give it a look.
Imagine beautiful Tennessee scenery all around you, yoga, and sweet, baby goats running and jumping all around you as you bend, lift, and stretch your body into your favorite yoga poses. Snuggles are not uncommon, and neither is the occasional upward goat on a downward dog.
Melody Nash started Goat Yoga to help a family member with the high stress job of being a firefighter. “[My brother-in-law] actually sent me a video last February and after researching it with my husband, we decided to start one here,” Melody says. It just so happened that he loved goats and yoga, so they decided to combine the two together as a way to bring more fun into his life. “The property we live on is a perfect place for [yoga], and I have always loved practicing it recreationally.”
Goats are natural climbers with amazing balance so yoga and goats are the perfect combination. “Plus, when they’ve been socialized they are very calming and have a therapeutic quality that keeps the zen of a yoga class flowing naturally,” Nash explains.
Just like puppies are used to help people cope with depression and certain stress-related disorders in specific environments, Goat Yoga can be used the same way. In fact, new research from the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests the hormonal changes that occur when humans and dogs interact could help people lower their blood pressure. Just a few minutes of stroking a small, furry animal – such as a goat – releases of a number of “feel good” hormones, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
“We currently offer classes 3-4 times a week for about an hour each time. Afterwards guests are welcome to take photos with and mingle with the goats as well as strike their favorite poses while we take pictures for them,” Melody adds. Private classes and events are also available too.
Encouraging our kids to be active, feel comfortable in their own environment, and embrace their bodies is an important part of growing up. Yoga has been known to be an effective tool when it comes to helping children manage the physical, mental, and emotional effects of stress and change as they grow to understand their world.
Offering a variety of classes in schools, day camps, private yoga sessions, birthday parties and more, Habitat Yoga has combined yoga with lessons in mindfulness and mediation in a straightforward, intentional, and developmentally appropriate way for yogis of all ages. They currently practice with kids from ages three to 17, and their approach incorporates five key elements that address the whole child: breath, movement, attention, relaxation, and connection.
Founded by Ashley Ray, each Habitat Yoga class intentionally teaches a mix of energy-releasing movement, sequences, and games, combined with calming and focusing exercises. Ray explains, “This combination of energy release and grounding techniques helps their students gradually calm their nervous system throughout the class to achieve a more focused and balanced energy level.”
Exposing your kids routinely to these practices is a simple way to help them live happier and healthier lifestyles, increase their capacity to learn effectively, manage their emotions, regulate their own behavior, and achieve personal and academic success.
Overall, it’s Habitat Yoga’s goal to “give our young yogis the tools to live a more present, grateful, and fulfilled life,” Ray says. “By making these tools more accessible in their everyday environments—their schools, homes, and community centers—Habitat Yoga students build an understanding that yoga is much more than just postures or sequences on a mat. They’re able to take the tools of calming breath, mindfulness, movement that releases energy, and respect for themselves and others into their daily lives, positively affecting the way they develop and grow.”
At this age, yoga isn’t just downward-facing dog or warrior II. They’re teaching kids how to interact with one another. Parents are as happy as the instructors when they notice improvements in everything from the children’s attitudes to their test scores. Now, if we can only get this curriculum added to our schools!
A Remix on Yoga
There’s little to argue, living in Music City, we should also have a yoga class that’s dedicated to bringing your body and mind to life with the power of music. Inner Light Yoga is leading the way with a variety of classes paired with signature genres, including pop, country, R&B, and heavy metal.
Mixing high-energy music with vinyasa flows, classes are usually unheated and yogis are encouraged to move at their own pace, feeding off the beat of the music and their own breath. Much like the city of Nashville, music is the epicenter of each class at Inner Light Yoga and the roster of classes helps attendees get a feel for the vibe of the city.
The name Inner Light Yoga came long before a studio or the element of music was a part of its spirit, though. Founder Emmy Singer and instructor Maddie Teren completed their first teacher training back in 2013 together and became dear friends. Inspired by their brand-new teaching skills, they wanted to share their energy and new abilities with the rest of the yoga world. “We had a new ‘inner light’ that couldn’t be contained, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a studio named Inner Light Yoga?’” Singer said. Four years later it came to life and now the duo is running music-themed classes day and night.
It would be hard-pressed to find someone that hasn’t experienced the motivational and healing power of music, whether simply being lifted out of a bad mood upon hearing a favorite song or feeling something bigger than themselves when they learn the background behind an artist’s lyrics. Music and yoga both encompass some form of therapy for undefined and sometimes unseen syndromes, so it only makes sense that bringing these two remedies together would have the potential to create a unique experience in the yoga industry.
Inner Light Yoga is edgy and fun. Whereas most traditional yoga classes tend to play music that sets a calming tone, high-energy music provides a perfect complement to the upbeat yoga classes and attitudes.
Worth the Weight
Nearly everything in life is about balance. We balance our job. We balance our social life (if we have one). And we balance our workouts. Arguably, the most important aspect to direct our efforts toward is the balance of mind and body wellness. Often in yoga practice, we are guided through methods to assist us in relaxing, breathing, and resetting. Whether it’s 10 minute flow in the morning or an hour-long class in the studio, yoga can grant you the tools to rejuvenate focus and ambition, as well as optimize physical activity.
In Nashville, new workouts and fitness classes are welcomed by the community, and recently, a yoga with weights class has entered the scene.
If you’re looking for a little more weight in your yoga class, NuPowerYoga is opening its doors to the combination of flexibility and strength. By enhancing the mindful movements of traditional yoga with core strength and cardiovascular conditioning, NuPowerYoga is creating balance in the mind, body, and spirit.
The classes utilize patented weights called NuBells to fire up your primary, secondary, and accessory muscles in every workout. Unlike a traditional set of dumbbells, the NuBell’s circular design evenly distributes the weight around your entire hand, removing stress and tension on the wrists and elbows. During a yoga session, you’ll add toning and muscle strengthening as you bend and stretch.
Co-owner Lauren Zoeller has also incorporated a nutrition component in the curriculum. Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga and a “body type” approach to health, pairs perfectly with the physical practice to bring your body into even further balance.
“It’s more than just a yoga routine with balanced weights. We’re leading you on a journey to find balance in your yoga, weight training, nutrition, and meditation practice. [Co-founder] Linda Fenelon and I developed NuPowerYoga knowing that in order for someone to achieve wellness in all aspects of the mind, body, and spirit, it had to become a lifestyle. We wanted a program that encompassed it all, so that’s exactly what we created!”
Holding Warrior II without weights is already pretty challenging, but when you add another strength component to the movement, it intensifies the class even more. It may not be yoga in the traditional sense, but that’s the beauty of it. You can always put the weights down and you’re instantly back to using your own bodyweight.
If you’re up for the challenge, bring a towel and prepare to sweat.