Representatives of the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C, recently sought to include the four-legged farm animals in the chapel’s yoga classes. For as gentle and beneficial as goats have shown to be for yoga practice — a fitness fad that now has worldwide reach — the District still considers them an exotic species. While the organization has received permits to have goats on the premises before, the difference now hinges on the educational merit of using goats during yoga sessions.
Paul Williams, an organizer and fundraiser with the preservation group, sought the education based permit with a health and wellness approach. He previously proved the digestive power of goats by having them on the property to eat poison ivy and other invasive plants — a lesson in alternative and eco-friendly methods of grounds maintenance. With yoga’s known impact on digestive regulation, blending the concepts should provide that same educational benefit according to Williams.
The District’s Department of Health declined to agree. In a letter responding to the permit, the Executive Director, Vito DelVento, stated it would violate policies prohibiting animals and spectators from touching during public events. Further concerns for safety were also expressed, as well as doubt in the event’s use for educational purposes.
For now, the representatives for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery continue to negotiate with the D.O.H regarding new permit possibilities for goat yoga.