Ever since “goat yoga” became a multinational trend, other livestock and farm animals have joined in the experience.
There’s alpaca yoga, pig yoga, chicken yoga, and, perhaps inevitably, cow yoga—two farms, one in the UK and one in Pennsylvania, have gotten attention for the latter. But the leader of a Hindu organization has criticized the use of cows in yoga, according to Metro UK.
Goat yoga and its descendants are, essentially, guided yoga classes, often on farms, while animals sort of walk around or nap. It’s become popular as a novelty, and also because goats (and alpacas, the other animal often found in this sort of class) are funny and cute, and people like being around them.
But a dairy farm in Lancashire, England came under fire for its “cow yoga” classes, with criticism coming from Rajan Zed. Zed wrote a letter to the farm, stating that cows are sacred to the Hindus, and that cow yoga is disrespectful to both cows and to the practice of yoga. In response, the farm apologized and canceled its cow yoga classes. The Pennsylvania farm, on the other hand, said its cows were separated from the classes and are not being mistreated in any way, and does not seem inclined to change the classes.
Rajan Zed is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, which was formed in 2011 in Reno, Nevada. It is not any kind of elected or centralized body; there is no such thing in Hinduism. It’s unclear exactly what the Universal Society of Hinduism does—its website is sparse—but Zed is very active in opposing Western uses of Indian and Hindu symbolism. He has criticized a Selena Gomez music video, a pair of Adidas sneakers inspired by the Hindu festival of Holi, and a Ganesh-shaped chocolate at a New York chocolatier. His press releases sometimes imply that Zed represents many Hindus (“Upset Hindus are urging” is how many press releases begin), though it’s not clear exactly who else that might be, or how large the Universal Society of Hinduism is.
In any case, cow yoga is now canceled in England, so if you want to do some yoga near some cows, you’ll have to head to Pennsylvania or find some cows of your own.