YOGA FOR DOGS

Dog stretching

Yoga remains a popular form of exercise and effective way to reduce stress. It can also incorporate meditation and the practice of mindfulness which are both beneficial habits. The question is, can yoga be good for your dog and how does it work?

Dog yoga (or doga) classes are becoming more and more popular around the world, especially in America, Japan, England and Australia. In fact, those who have tried it love it. During a class, you get to spend one-to-one quality time with your best furry friend. This is not only good for your relationship, but also for your physical health. Your pooch also gets an opportunity to socialize, which is very healthy and stimulating. Yet, at the end of the class the dogs are usually as relaxed and calm as their owners.

Some practitioners feel that doggy yoga brings them and their pets closer to each other and that they share the same energy. After all, classes can include anything from petting and cuddling to staring into each other’s eyes.

Usually, the dogs are guided through a few gentle poses, but often they just stay close to their owners and hang or lie around. Doga can also include massage and meditation. Some classes even end with Shavasana, also known as Savasana, or corpse pose. Basically you lie on your back, with your legs comfortably spread out, arms relaxed next to your body, with palms facing up or down.

In Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi, former Seattle yoga and doga instructor, Brenda Bryan, explains why dogs are ideal yoga companions:

“They’re in the moment and all about union because they’re pack animals. And that’s what yoga is all about. It’s all about being in the moment and developing a sense of oneness. Dogs are natural healers and it’s nice to bring them onto our mats and incorporate them into such a healing practice.”

Here are a few dog poses in doga:

  • Chaturanga: Stroke your dog’s back as he or she lies on their stomach.
  • Chair: Ask your dog to sit and hold him from behind while raising the front paws in the air.
  • Inner Dog Mudra: Created by Brenda Bryan, this one is all about connecting the energy of your minds by resting your foreheads on each other.

Doga might not be for all pet parents and many might even think it’s silly. If it doesn’t make your dog anxious and he or she seems to enjoy it, then why not? Any quality time and physical attention is better than nothing.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOGA

  • There are different types of doga.
  • Certification for instructors is not available (yet).
  • Dogs of any size can do doga, even if you can’t pick them up.
  • At some classes, dogs simply hang around; at others they participate.
  • If your dog resists movement, stop. The experience should be pleasant.
  • Never force your dog into any pose; it’s about building trust and bonding.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this question from Brenda Bryan: “Who doesn’t want to get stretched and massaged and paid attention to for an hour?”

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