When considering meditation or a relaxing yoga session, baby goats jumping onto and off of your back doesn’t usually come to mind. For some, this sounds just about the furthest thing from relaxation. Well, those people would be wrong. Goat yoga exploded throughout the country in 2017 as this new and unusual way of finding a moment of peace amidst the hustle and bustle of regular life connected with people at a root level. Since then, goat yoga has spread all across the world with more than 500 goat yoga businesses currently up and running. Even though the phenomenon has now turned into a global success, goat yoga started in the unexpected small town of Albany, Oregon, all thanks to Lainey Morse.
With Morse finalizing a divorce and being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease all around the same time in 2016, life was everything but easy. “It was tough,” she says. “The thing that was so therapeutic for me was the goats.” She coined the term of spending time with her goats “Goat Happy Hour.” Realizing how beneficial this was for her mental health, she began to invite friends and family members to join her. One day during a goat happy hour, a yoga instructor said that she should do yoga sessions with the goats. While it seemed like a little bit of a crazy idea at first, Morse realized that yoga sessions with the goats would be an excellent way for people to laugh and decompress. Since she had skills from her work in marketing at the time, Morse took some photos of the first goat yoga session to send off to a news outlet to seek out some publicity for her new endeavor. This decision would be life-changing for Morse.
Once the media caught hold of her story, it spread like wildfire. While working at her current job, she would sneak away for press interviews. She was juggling around 30 interviews a day during this time. Goat yoga was officially going viral. With this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of her, she quit her job and took a leap of faith. “People just don’t go viral,” she says, thinking back to that time. “It’s like winning the lottery. So, I can’t not pursue this.” The timing of this business venture could not have been better as it coincided with the 2016 presidential election cycle, during which a large majority of people craved the escape from everyday life that goat yoga offered.
Six years later, the success of goat yoga has led Morse to be able to open up 10 goat yoga facilities across the nation. The playful and loving nature of goats has proved to be an amazing way for people to get out of their heads and anxiety by living in the moment with these beautiful creatures. “I think the happy distraction is the most important thing,” she says. “It just brings you down and allows you to focus on different things. It’s important to find that healthy distraction or else people get caught in their heads with their anxiety and go down the rabbit hole.” At her current property in Monroe, Oregon, her goats have reached the age where they aren’t ideal for yoga so they have become the residential tour guides for goat happy hour as they walk with you around the property and play as you sit and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
Morse is always growing and innovating within her businesses and has some exciting projects slated for the future. Her most recent venture has been renovating an old barn built in 1890 on her property. The plans include building a guest suite in the loft which will be available for rent with lots of quality time with the goats. When talking to Morse, the excitement and passion is evident in her voice when talking about these projects and her journey. Her story provides a perfect example of taking that risk and turning your passion into a career. While it certainly was not easy leaving her job behind and entering the world of entrepreneurship, her struggle and grit paid off. Through this, she is now able to sit in her barn getting work done with friends — all 10 of her goats.