Rachel Phillips, her fiance Trey Kitchen, and Trey’s mother Roxie Banker, make up the GOGA team. Rachel always loved animals and knew the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. She also was a firm believer in a holistic approach to physical, emotional and spiritual health. When she met Roxie’s Texas Pygmy/Nigerian Dwarf goats, she envisioned a yoga experience enriched simply by including the little guys! Due to her career path thus far, she was well equipped to start a new and successful business with her expertise in marketing and public relations, including social media marketing campaigns, promotions and event planning. Roxie was all for it! She supplies baby goats from her co-owned business, 2 Crazy Goat Ladies, and makes sure they are healthy and happy. With his background in finance and economics, Trey is the numbers guy, keeping GOGA financially healthy.
GOGA is based on Vinyasa yoga, a sequence of fluid, rhythmic moves that increase stamina and flexibility, decrease stress and, in general, improve the respiratory, cardio and circulatory systems. Add the goats and the scientifically proven benefits that come from interacting with animals: reduced blood pressure, cholesterol level, anxiety and depression and improved sleep, memory and mobility. Why goats? Because baby goats love to bond with humans; they are smart, social and cuddly. And they are fun to watch. They frolic with such a joyful exuberance that it is contagious. It’s hard to stay grumpy around the adorable goats, as they wander among the mats, nuzzling the “Gogis,” climbing up downward dog, catching a nap on a back or cuddling up on a lap. Think you can worry about the upcoming downsizing at work or fret over a past hurt with the goats around? An important part of yoga is learning how to be present in the moment, to let go of the past and future for that time. The goats bring that valuable meditative quality to the class.
And that brings us to the third leg of this health trifecta: laughter. The goats are funny as well as fun. They add precious humor, making learning yoga a less serious endeavor for beginners and reminding the experienced (and sometimes too serious) yogis that they might want to lighten up some. As we’ve heard so many times: “Laughter is the best medicine.” It has a positive effect on the immune system, decreases blood pressure and levels of cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone), and increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin (the “happy chemical”) that contribute to a feeling of well being.
It didn’t take long for GOGA to be recognized. In 2018, it was awarded “Best Fitness Trend” in the Austin Monthly magazine’s “BEST OF ATX.”
GOGA began as a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating assault on Texas in 2017, and it remains committed to the community. The team regularly plans and promotes events to raise funds for local charities and donates a portion of their profits to charitable organizations, particularly to those involved with disaster relief. They also set aside 100% of the profits from the sale of their shirts to be used for worthy causes within the community.